The Berta Family

Firmin Berta

Firmin Berta (’57) and his late brother Irvin have provided $750,000 to advance the Olive Center’s pioneering research.

Their generosity has enabled us to renovate our research laboratory, purchase new equipment, plant new orchards and open doors for young scientists to get a jump start on their careers.

The Berta family’s commitment to the Olive Center stems from their trust in the Olive Center’s mission, purpose, and ethos. Their love affair with UC Davis began with Firmin came home from the Army trying to find his future direction. He arrived at UC Davis and immediately felt wanted and appreciated. This sense of family resonated with him and later his daughter Mary Cristina (’04).

The Berta Family’s philanthropic support has had an exponential impact on the center’s research output. Juan Polari (PhD ’19) and Lauren Crawford (PhD ’19) had much of their graduate research funded by Berta Family Graduate Fellowships. Juan’s research focused on improving the oil sector’s profitability by studying the interrelationship of crushing speed, grid size and malaxation time on extraction and quality. Lauren tackled key concerns in table olive profitability, including innovative debittering methods. The Berta family’s generosity has pushed our lab’s output to average monthly publication of peer-reviewed research.

For their generous donations and ongoing commitment to the olive industry and olive research, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences named the Olive Center’s research laboratory for the Berta family in November 2019.