Making their mark
Humanitarians work around the world. As the world wrestles with issues like global poverty, disease and water supply, Missouri S&T alumni have embraced their ability to make a difference.
• Kathleen Moldthan, GeoE'86, MS GeoE'86, president and CEO of the World Agricultural Forum, is working to ensure that people worldwide have what they need for survival. Her organization provides a neutral platform for global policymakers and key influencers from the public and private sectors to find ways to bring food, fuel, fiber and water to the world's growing population. Moldthan has been with the St. Louis-based group since 1999. Developing countries cannot keep up with the research and technological advances of corporations, and have little understanding of the processes and procedures required, Moldthan says. By facilitating discussions and networking among policymakers, the WAF helps connect developing nations with new corporate and academic partners.
• Stuart Obermann, ME'79, was the CEO of an Internet startup and his wife, Marcia, was the quality director of a hospital in 2002, when their 21-year-old son, Eric, was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also called Lou Gehrig's disease. The Obermanns quit their jobs to care for their son and started an informal support group with several other families that evolved into the Alabama Chapter of the ALS Association in 2004. They volunteered as executive director and patient services director until there was funding for staff. By 2005, Eric had lost the ability to move or speak, but a foot-controlled voice computer allowed him to give a powerful testimony before the U.S. Senate about the need for a national database of ALS patients. Eric died in August 2010. He lived twice the normal lifespan after diagnosis. His parents continue to lead the fight against ALS. Marcia is coordinator of the first multidisciplinary ALS Clinic in the state. Stuart is board chair of the Alabama Chapter and was elected chair of the national Board of Representatives, a governing body of the ALS Association.
• John E. Priest, CE'52, discovered a correlation between winter snowpack and spring and summer discharges on the Indus River, then used that information to forecast water supply for hydropower and irrigated crop production. His work helped secure Pakistan's water supply and led to the planning, design and construction of the Indus Basin Treaty Works, a water-sharing treaty with India created in 1960. Following Pakistan's civil war and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, Priest helped Pakistan reestablish its national direction and helped Bangladesh develop its own master plan for water, land and agriculture. He has also worked in El Salvador and Chile. Priest spent four years coordinating an Afghan engineering team and opened field offices that completed the planning, design and construction of farm-to-market roads, bridges, wells and irrigation systems in Afghanistan. Now, Priest is back in Pakistan, working to better manage waters of the Indus River.