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How can we feed 9 billion people by 2050? Anthony Wenndt ’15 is on it.
Wenndt is passionate about tackling issues related to hunger relief and food insecurity. In his latest adventures, Wenndt spent the summer in a lab at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Crops Pathology and Genetics Research in Davis, Calif.
He earned the opportunity as a recipient of a prestigious Wallace-Carver Fellowship, sponsored by the USDA and the World Food Prize Foundation.
Wenndt was selected in part because of his ongoing interest in food security. In the past, Wenndt has
- visited rural villages in Kenya to assess the impacts of climate change on smallholder farmer productivity,
- with the University of Costa Rica, conducted research to help combat important coffee pathogens,
- worked on projects related to sustainable pasture management for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and
- worked on three other USDA-ARS projects.
He says, “My USDA research has been primarily focused on grain crop pathogens and response to contaminants in the agricultural ecosystem.“ For example, this summer he explored the responses of rice seedlings to elevated concentrations of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal. His results included pinpointing sites in the rice genome that may play a role in regulating response to cadmium.
“Cadmium contamination is a problem that affects rice production systems nationally and around the world, and understanding these response phenomena may be very important in maintaining high levels of productivity and food safety,” Wenndt explains.
He says, “I firmly believe that it is a responsibility of all people to be mindful of and participatory in the processes of maintaining a sustainable food system. The struggle to alleviate world hunger is multifaceted and ever-changing, and therefore there is always space in food security dialogue for new ideas and fresh perspectives.”
Wenndt adds, “My Grinnell experience has been absolutely instrumental in shaping my worldview, and has provided me with countless opportunities to refine and focus my passions. The resources available at Grinnell have certainly helped me in my own pursuit of hunger relief, and have built a foundation of intellectualism and open-mindedness that I will undoubtedly employ throughout my entire career as a scientist and humanitarian.” He’s not just talking about what’s he’s learned in Noyce Science Center. “My curricular experience as a whole (in the spirit of a true student of the liberal arts!) has been inspirational!” he says.
After graduation, Wenndt plans to pursue graduate studies in plant pathology and an eventual career in laboratory research.
Read more at Keystone student fights world hunger.