Entomology students' global research to be supported by inaugural Guyton Award

Amy Duke
January 24, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two students in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are the recipients of the Guyton Award, a global learning scholarship established recently by Bill Guyton, an agricultural economist and internationally recognized expert in sustainable development.

Julie Baniszewski and Bipana Paudel Timilsena, entomology doctoral candidates in the college's International Agriculture and Development (INTAD) dual-title degree program, plan to use the awards to advance their international research in pest management.

Guyton scholarship winners

Bipana Paudel Timilsena, left, and Julie Baniszewski, entomology doctoral candidates in the International Agriculture and Development (INTAD) dual-title degree program, have received the Guyton Award, a global learning scholarship established recently by Bill Guyton.

IMAGE: Penn State

"This scholarship provides an amazing opportunity for these student leaders to make a difference in the global community," said Deanna Behring, assistant dean and director of the college's Office of International Programs. "We are grateful for Mr. Guyton's continued support of our college and his championing of international initiatives. Most of all, we are eager to follow Julie and Bipana as they expand their horizons and make an impact for global good."

Guyton is executive director of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, a nonprofit organization serving the chocolate industry by promoting quality and ethical sourcing practices. He is also founder and former president of the World Cocoa Foundation, a private sector, nonprofit organization focusing specifically on farmer outreach and environmental programs.

His interest in chocolate/cacao research and international development has led to a working relationship with several Penn State faculty, including Mark Guiltinan, J. Franklin Styer Professor of Horticultural Botany, and Siela Maximova, research professor of plant biotechnology, both of whom are widely known for their cacao research.

"I have a high degree of respect for their work and appreciate how they engage and support young people who are interested in international agriculture," Guyton said. "Experiencing another country and culture can be life-changing, especially for a young person."

He knows that firsthand: As an undergraduate majoring in agricultural business at Colorado State University, he received a scholarship to travel to southern Africa, where he studied natural resource management.

"It was a transformative experience, which led to my interest in international development and traveling abroad," said Guyton, who also holds a master's degree in agricultural economics from Michigan State University.

"Establishing this scholarship is my way of giving back to those who helped me launch my career. I hope others will consider donating to or creating a scholarship fund. It doesn't take much – even small amounts can make a big difference in students' lives."

Baniszewski, of Erie, Pennsylvania, will use her scholarship to travel to Costa Rica, where she will examine how mixing tree species in a coffee system can reduce pest pressures. The focus of her project is the coffee berry borer, a pest that is elusive and problematic to control with chemicals.

"Receiving this award allows me to go to Costa Rica, set up traps and monitor arthropod predators, coffee berry borer populations and damage, and to work with researchers in Costa Rica who are able to disseminate the information we generate to coffee growers," she said. "I hope the ultimate impact is finding the right balance to control this pest, but also realize shade coffee can encourage conservation practices and have environmental benefits."

Timilsena of Bharatpur, Nepal, will visit Rwanda and Uganda, where she will investigate the fall armyworm, an insect that feeds on crops and is becoming a major threat to food security in Africa. In the proposed study, she will explore farmers' knowledge of the insect and current management practices. This information will be important in setting research agendas, designing farmer-acceptable management practices and planning appropriate training strategies.

"I have always known deep inside that I want to work with farmers after completing my doctoral degree, and that's why I enrolled in the dual-title program in International Agriculture and Development," Timilsena said. "The Guyton Award will help me to achieve my dream of working with the farmers and for the farmers."

More about scholarship giving is available online at https://agsci.psu.edu/giving/impact. Information about the INTAD program can be found at https://agsci.psu.edu/international/intad.

This gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated February 01, 2019