Two top University of Wisconsin Oshkosh science grads who are working to improve health conditions and food security issues in Africa will be honored for their efforts at the Alumni Awards Celebration in October.
Geology major Richard Guenther ’79, of Cary, North Carolina, and biology major Adam Nothem ’11, of West Bend, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, respectively.
Guenther has worked in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University for nearly 30 years. As a research assistant, he applies biochemistry and nanotechnology to issues of human disease and crop protection. He has authored and coauthored more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and holds four patents.
Recently, he has worked on a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop cost-effective approaches to crop protection in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The results from that early research developed a simple product that in field trials is proving effective in increasing crop yield and reducing pest populations,“ said Steven Lommel, the associate dean for research with the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service. “This research is currently considered the Gates Foundation’s highest potential to increase food stability in this region of the world.
Guenther said UW Oshkosh prepared him well for a career in science.
“The aspect of my UWO education that was essential to my career was the extensive contact with the faculty,” he said. “That exposure allowed me to directly observe what a career in research is like. Having grown up in a small city, I never knew what being a scientist was. The environment at UWO provided an opportunity to observe and take part in numerous hands-on research experiences.”
Nothem, too, said his experience at UWO prepared him well for his work following graduation as a health extension agent for the U.S. Peace Corps in Tanzania, focusing primarily on malaria prevention.
“My interest in the subject was sparked by Dr. Shelly Michalski,” Nothem said. “She, with her passion for parasitology and her engaging lectures, instilled in me a need to find more answers about the continuing malaria burden worldwide.”
Nothem’s Peace Corps service included linking communities to resources and supporting community education. He was selected to attend an intensive Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp in Senegal.
“Following that experience, he served as the regional coordinator for southern Tanzania for volunteer malaria programs,” said M. Elizabeth O’Malley, who served as the country director during Nothem’s time in Tanzania. “He worked to motivate and inform other volunteers about how to engage their communities in malaria activities.”
In May 2016, Nothem began working as the malaria program and training manager for Medicine-Education Africa (MEA) in northeastern Tanzania, while still partnering with the Peace Corps. He is rolling out a regional malaria program to annually test and treat up to 41,000 children in villages.
Guenther and Nothem will be among those honored at UWO’s Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, Oct. 6, at the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center. The cost is $30 per person and includes dinner. For more information or to RSVP for the event, call (920) 424-3449 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.