Gallery: Yuma’s role in Research, Innovation & Impact

March 18, 2024


Members of the RII senior leadership team learn as field workers start their day in Yuma.
Members of the RII senior leadership team learn as field workers start their day in Yuma.

Members of the Office of Research, Innovation & Impact (RII) leadership team enjoyed an educational tour of University of Arizona key assets and partnerships in Yuma on January 18 and 19. Yuma has a critical role in feeding the nation, making UArizona integral in many ways.

State Representative Tim Dunn and Sony Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Growers Company, Inc, led the RII group on a comprehensive tour of Yuma’s agricultural landscape that began before sunrise as workers arrived at the produce fields. Focus areas included harvesting and food safety with Channah Rock, environmental science specialist and professor.

“The research and innovation we champion in Yuma can be applied to countless other regions across the world,” said Elliott Cheu, interim senior vice president of research and innovation. “We are making Arizona a global leader in transformational technologies and climate-resilient sustainable agricultural and food production practices.”

Yuma is known as the Winter Salad Bowl, where UArizona is focused on possibilities, not limitations. Cheu was joined on the Yuma vist by fellow RII senior leaders, including:

  • Sangita Judge, vice president of research operations
  • Peter Reiners, interim associate vice president of research centers & institutes
  • Doug Hockstad, associate vice president of Tech Launch Arizona
  • Carol Stewart, vice president of Tech Parks Arizona
  • Lisa Romero, associate vice president of research communications and marketing
  • Jane Surgent, assistant director of local and rural outreach for UArizona government and community relations

UArizona students, faculty and staff shared research highlights from multiple disciplines during a tour of the Yuma Agricultural Center led by Tanya Hodges, regional academic programs manager of UArizona Yuma and executive director of business initiatives and grant development.

The RII delegation also visited the Yuma County Cooperative Extension, Yuma Plant Pathology Lab and Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture (YCEDA) with a tour led by Stephanie Slinksi, interim executive director of YCEDA. UArizona researchers demonstrated their work in the areas of tree fruit horticulture, entomology, field trials and agricultural engineering.

The senior leadership team later discussed potential opportunities for workforce development partnerships with the leadership team of Arizona Western College. It also engaged with regional leaders including Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholas, Greg LaVann, interim president and CEO of the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation, Mark Smith, president of Smith Farms Company of Yuma, and other businesses.

The visit reinforced the importance of the university’s Arizona-centric and collaborative approach to research and innovation in solving pressing, complex challenges across Southern Arizona and beyond.


Subscribe to the UArizona Impact in Action newsletter to receive featured stories and event info to connect you with UArizona's research, innovation, entrepreneurial ventures, and societal impacts.

Subscribe now