World class professor always returns to freedom of SDSU

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

Zeno Wicks says his next stop is Alaska — although South Dakota State University is a great spot to be for now.

“People like me who need the freedom to be who they are can be who they are here and still be very good teachers,” he says.

But Alaska?

“If you don’t make it here, you can still move to Alaska and maybe make it,” he says, smiling. “We’re all incredibly different people, and South Dakota tolerates that. A lot of the rest of the world doesn’t.”

He is a plant science professor, though he also teaches through the mathematics and statistics department and is a faculty advisor for the Student’s Association.

Wicks grew up in New York City, a place absent of “amber waves of grain.” Wicks’ dreams were not of corn, but of becoming a doctor. To that end, he attended the University of Vermont and graduated with a pre-medical degree.

He could’ve applied to medical school immediately, but he didn’t. Instead he joined the Peace Corp and was shipped off to West Africa.

“When I got there I ended up in an agricultural program,” he says.

The proverbial seed was planted, and after a year living in Europe, Wicks returned to the United States to go back to school.

Actually, two schools.