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Alumni in the News - August 2011

Just For Fun

Former Commander Talks NASA

Robert "Hoot" Gibson (B.S., Aerospace Engineering, 1969) talked about his experiences with NASA and lamented the end of the space shuttle program. Gibson is a retired captain and naval aviator in the U.S. Navy and a retired NASA astronaut. He was mission commander four times for NASA.
Read more about Gibson in The Daily News Journal

Farmer Uses Organic and Sustainable Methods to Grow Herbs

Larry Jacobs (B.S., Soil Science, 1976) didn't always want to pursue sustainable farming methods. When he was 20, though, he became sick from a chemical pesticide used to control aphid infestation. After that , Jacobs decided to use only organic and sustainable methods, which he still uses to this day on his Pescadero, Calif., herb farm, Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo.
Read more about Jacobs in The Daily Journal

Dual Degree Grad is a Fiber Artist

Natalie Redding (B.S., Animal Science, 1995, M.S., Agriculture, 2005) runs Namaste Farms in Temecula, Calif., where she sells wools and fibers all hand-sheared, -washed, -dyed and -spun herself.
Read more about Redding in the Bend Bulletin

Alum's Paintings to be Featured in Cambria

Mark Beck's (Crop Science, 1981) realistic paintings include land and seascapes, but he is best known for his simple and often isolated old houses. Beck keeps up with current affairs and politics, which often find their way into his work. In his earlier days as an artist Beck was drawn to the old commercial buildings downtown and the homes along Buchon Street. His work will be featured at the The Vault Gallery in Cambria.
Read more about Beck in The Tribune

Ag Business Grad Plays the Game of Kings

Megan Judge (B.S., Agricultural Business, 2000, M.S., Agricultural Business, 2010) celebrated 10 years as owner and trainer of the nonprofit Central Coast Polo Club, near Clark Valley Farms. The membership-based program offers training, riding, polo play and boarding.
Read more about Judge in The Tribune

Farmer Keeps it Old School

Gregory Nauta (Agricultural Management, 1990) works 15 or 16 hours a day, 365 days a year on at his farm, Rocky Canyon Farms in Atascadero, Calif. Nauta and his family are defiantly old school in how they farm. He raises a variety of fruits, vegetables, animals and grains reminiscent of the pioneer era. Nauta deliberately farsm a wide range in order to diversify his risk from competition, weather and plant diseases.
Read more about Nauta in the Los Angeles Times

Career Moves

Google Gets Punchd

Punchd, a loyalty service on smart phones created by Cal Poly alumni, was acquired by Google in a deal speculated to be around $10 million. Founder/CEO Reed Morse (B.S., Computer Science, 2010) and co-founder/owner Xander Pollock (B.S., Applied Art and Design, 2010) are now working in the Bay Area with other Cal Poly alum and Google to expand the startup. The grads Punchd was first designed Punchd as a seniort project in an Android Development class, with the help of a donation of Android phones from Google.
Read more about Morse and Pollock on
Read more about Morse and Pollock in The Tribune
Read more about Punchd at

Ag Grad Hired as Program Coordinator

Carrie Crane (B.S., Dairy Science, 2009) has been named program coordinator of Tulare County Farm Bureau.
More on the Fresno Bee's write up of Crane's hiring

Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Engineer to Administrative Post

Warren Glenn Hioki (B.S., Engineering Technology, 1975) was included in President Barack Obama's list of individuals he intends to nominate to key administrative posts. Obama intends to nominate Hioki as a member of the board of trustees of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation.
Read more about Hioki in the Chicago Sun-Times

Del Dios Principal Chosen to Lead New Magnet School

Keith Nuthall (B.S., Physical Science, 1983) was hired as principal of the still-unnamed Escondido magnet high school that will focus on biotechnology when it opens in 2013. Nuthall was previously the Del Dios Middle School principal and a former science teacher. The magnet school is expected to serve 600 to 800 students and will be for young people interested in biotechnology and medical science.
Read more about Nuthall in the North County Times (San Diego)

Grad is New Dean of Students in Morro Bay

Aaron Black (B.S., Kinesiology, 2001, M.S., Kinesiology, 2005) is the new dean of students at Morro Bay High School. Black previously worked as a high school administrator near Fresno.
Read more about Black in The Tribune

Regional Sales Manager Hired to Work Familiar Central California Coast

Tommy Escalante (B.S., Fruit Science, 1996) was hired by Certis USA, a biopesticide company headquartered in Columbia, Md. Escalante will fill the position of Central California Coast Regional Sales Manager.
Read more about Escalante on Business Wire

Bank Announces Appointment of Business Grad to Board of Directors

Brett Whitaker (B.S., Business Administration, 1986) was appointed a member of the American Perspective Bank's board of directors. The bank serves San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties. Whitaker is also the founder, majority owner and chairman of Whitaker Construction Group, Inc., Welco Equipment, and Whitaker Contractors, Inc., all located in Paso Robles, Calif.
Read more about Whitaker in the Sacramento Bee

Attorney Enters Contest for Boulder County Commissioner's Seat

Rich Lopez (B.S., City and Regional Planning, 1972) joined the field of candidates for one of the Boulder, Colo., Board of County Commissioners seats up for election next year. Lopez, an attorney Lopez Law Office and chairman of Boulder Community Hospital's board of directors, was a member of the Boulder City Council from 1997 through 2001 and was the city's deputy mayor in 1998 and 1999.
Read more about Lopez in the Longmont Times-Call

Port of Tacoma Announces New Communications Director, Public Affairs Manager

Tara Mattina (B.S., Journalism, 1990) was announced as the new communications director and public affairs manager for the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, Wash. Mattina will direct the port’s strategic communications, marketing and media relations.
Read more about Mattina in The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Grad Returns as of Counsel to San Francisco Law Firm

Billie Hausburg (B.A., Speech Communication, 2001) who was previously an associate at Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP, returns as of counsel to the firm's San Francisco office. Hausburg was recently an in-house counsel at Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, where she oversaw litigation matters involving alleged breach of contract and bad faith, unfair business practices, bankruptcy and employment law. The firm represents local, national and international clients in a litigation and business practice.
Read more about Hausburg in Jaffe Legal News Service

FNR Grad Hired as Account Manager of Tree Management Company

Blaine Boccignone (B.S., Natural Resources Management, 1990) was announced as the new account manager of Arborwell's San Jose region. Arborwell is a professional tree management company that provides arboricultural services for trees. Boccignone is an ISA Certified Arborist and was recently with Davey Tree for the last 15 years.
Read more about Boccignone in PRNewswire

Mary Kay Senior Sales Director Awarded "Signature Pink" SRX Cadillac

Sheri Farrar-Meyer (B.S., Business Administration, 1982) hasn't had to pay for a car for three decades, even though she has driven more than a dozen new ones. Farrar-Meyer has leveraged her skill at selling Mary Kay beauty products to earn two-year leases on the vehicles. Mary Kay rewards her team's stellar sales receipts with new cars, and her latest reward is a "signature pink" SRX Cadillac.
Read more about Farrar-Meyer in The Californian (Temecula)

Ag Business Grad Involved in all Aspects of Producing Wine

Caitlin Pianetta (B.S., Agricultural Business, 2004) of the Pianetta Winery celebrated the winery's 10th harvest this year. The family-run winery produces around 3,000 cases of wine each year after only producing 370 cases of wine from their first harvest in 2002. Pianetta is involved in all aspects of producing their award-winning wines from growing and harvesting all the way to the final bottling.
Read more about Pianetta in The Southport Times

Honors & Awards

Chemistry Grad Awarded Science Fellowship

Joseph Carlson (B.S., Chemistry, 2010) was awarded a fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The fellowship supports graduate students who have demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering research. Carlson will receive $30,000 a year for the next three years.
Read more about Carlson in the San Jose Mercury News

Animal Science Grad is Cattlewoman of the Year

Debra Twisselman (B.S., Animal Science, 1986) was named Cattlewoman of the Year by the San Luis Obispo County CattleWomen. Twisselman was recognized as one of this year's cattle, agriculture and wine industry leaders during the California Mid-State Fair.
Read more about Twisselman in the Paso Robles Press

Rancher Completes Circle of Pasture-to-Plate Beef Production

Dave Wood (B.S., Animal Science, 1970) is one of this year’s Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame inductees. Wood has spent his career with Harris Feeding Company and Harris Ranch Beef Company. He has worked his way up since accepting a position as a feedyard pen rider after graduating from Cal Poly. He currently serves as chairman, beef operations.
Read more about Wood in Drovers CattleNetwork


George Ramos

George Ramos (B.S., Journalism, 1969) died recently at age 63. A longtime reporter, editor and columnist at the Los Angeles Times, Ramos played a key role in a groundbreaking series on Latinos in Southern California that won the paper a Pulitzer Prize in 1984. He later joined the journalism faculty at Cal Poly.
Read more about Ramos in the Los Angeles Times
Read more about Ramos in The Tribune
Read more about Ramos on KSBY

Dan Little

Dan Little (B.S., Economics, 1978) died Tuesday, June 21, in Spring after a brief illness.
Read more about Little on

Jean Marie Hustead

Jean Marie Hustead (Home Economics, 1976) passed away suddenly Tuesday, July 5 at her home in Morro Bay.
Read more about Hustead in The Tribune

Kathy (Crow) Phillip

Kathy (Crow) Phillip (B.S., English, 1970) died Saturday, June 25.
Read more about Phillip in The Tribune

Michael Warren Bland

Michael Warren Bland (C.R.D., Elementary Credential, 1999) died at his home Sunday, July 10.
Read more about Bland in The Tribune

Carrie Robin Chase

Carrie Robin Chase (M.A., Education, 1995) died July 9.
Read more about Chase in The Tribune