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Deborah Golino remembered for guiding evolution of Foundation Plant Services and advocating for the use of clean plants
From director Maher Al Rwahnih

Deborah Golino, former director of Foundation Plant Services (FPS) in UC Davis’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, passed away on December 23, 2023. Deborah worked as director of FPS from 1994 until retirement in 2021. She was a kind and supportive administrator, who will be deeply missed by all those who knew her. Deborah was a prominent advocate for clean plant use and the advancement of technologies used for clean plant production.

In 1987, Deborah received her PhD at UC Riverside and moved to Davis to work as a USDA-ARS Research Plant Pathologist specializing in grapevine virology. She was appointed to the Foundation Plant Materials Service (FPMS, soon to become FPS) Grapevine Technical Advisory Committee. When FPMS was reorganized in 1994, Deborah was selected as the founding director of FPS. The director role included administration of FPS, as well as a partial Cooperative Extension specialist assignment in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology. One of her first actions at FPS was to revive the grape importation program, opening the FPS National Grape Importation and Clean Stock Facility to provide import and quarantine services. Through operation of the facility, FPS became an important source for international grape material. More than 2,300 new grape selections were introduced at FPS from 1995 through 2021, each an endorsement of the use of clean plants. Deborah strove for the FPS grape program to produce the highest quality virus-tested and true-to-variety plant materials using state of the art technology.

Following the high-quality template of grapes, FPS’s other programs grew considerably during Deborah’s tenure: a sweetpotato clean stock program was added and rose, strawberry, and fruit tree collections expanded. The programs were further strengthened by the establishment of the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) in 2008. Deborah was instrumental in NCPN’s formation and served as Chair of the NCPN-Grapes Committee from its inception until her retirement in 2021. At the state level, she worked closely with regulators of the California Department of Agriculture’s Regulation & Certification programs for grapevines, fruit trees, and strawberries. Deborah was also a member of the steering committee of the International Council for the Study of Virus and Virus-like Diseases of the Grapevine, sharing a vision of clean grape material with global collaborators.

From 1994 to 2010, FPS’s programs more than tripled under Deborah’s management. Deborah was a great fundraiser and made sure that FPS had the financial resources to ensure its long-term stability. Committed to her team and the goals of the program, she also sought to expand the facilities so FPS could continue to deliver the highest quality clean plant materials. By working closely with industry members, clear supporters of the FPS mission, Deborah was able to secure $3.5 million in funding for a new office building. The resulting building was completed in 2015. When Deborah assumed the role of FPS director in 1994, she was tasked with reviving and reestablishing its programs. She did just that, and in her 27-year term grew FPS to a shining example of a clean plant center.

It is an honor to have worked with Deborah, and her impact cannot be overstated. Deborah was one of the top grape research and extension administrators in the country. She will be remembered as a firm believer in the importance of clean and certified planting stock, and for working closely with industry to ensure that their concerns were heard and needs were met. Her kindness and compassion positively impacted those who worked with her, and I am sure they will remember her with fondness. We are deeply saddened by her loss, and our condolences are with her family, friends, and colleagues. Foundation Plant Services and the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology are working together to hold a celebration of Deborah’s life on April 27, 2024 at 2:00 pm at the UC Davis Conference Center. A Zoom feed will also be available. Please use this form to RSVP

UC Davis has also established the Deborah Golino Fund to Support FPS for those who want to support the FPS program in her memory.