Nick Reitz is a UC Davis PhD candidate studying food science with Cooperative Extension Specialist and Pomologist, Dr. Mitcham. Through a focus on postharvest biology and technology, he is looking to expand his knowledge and expertise to solve issues around food waste and nutrition deficiencies.
Building upon decades-old methods, Reitz has been able to improve the understanding of plant calcium deficiency disorders that are responsible for about 1% crop loss in tomatoes and 10% loss in certain apple varieties.
Reitz compares the process of identifying and finding solutions to these disorders to a game of chess. “You don’t want to jump in too soon or make a move without considering everything that is going on,” he says.
Reitz spent three years identifying exactly why there is such significant crop loss in apples. Unlike tomatoes, apples experience calcium deficiencies postharvest and he found that this can be mitigated through simple changes in the production process.
“Nick is an impressive student with a passion for research and discovery,” supervisor Dr. Mitcham shares. “He is a voracious consumer of journal articles and uses the knowledge gained to propose and test research hypotheses. He has developed several novel methods that have enabled him to effectively test his hypotheses, speed up his research, and reduce laboratory costs.”
In addition to his extensive knowledge in food biology and chemistry, Reitz also enjoys economics. He is excited to join The March Fund as an Innovator Fellow to explore the economic drivers behind technology development and adoption in the agriculture sector, and apply that knowledge to the development of new technologies that will improve the food system.
In addition to becoming an Innovator Fellow, since 2017 Reitz has been a Teaching Assistant for UC Davis courses in food production, postharvest and product development, and food chemistry and properties. He enjoys mentoring students who demonstrate a passion for understanding and solving food system challenges.