Instructor returns to teaching

Like a bug to light, Dr. Hermann Nonnenmacher is repeatedly drawn to Missouri Southern. Lucky for him, the lights in the biology department aren’t deadly.

After a five year hiatus, this fall marks Nonnenmacher’s fifth semester at Southern.

He first served at Southern during the 1992-93 school year, and again in 1999-00 after earning his Ph.D.

In between, he taught at Pittsburg State University.

Nonnenmacher is glad to be back at Southern, a University he said is, “friendly to both the faculty and the students” and where “the faculty is easily accessible.”

Dr. Donna Johnson, biology instructor, said Nonnenmacher is fun to work with.

“I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything but tropical shirts,” she said. “They suit him. He’s always happy.”

Johnson said she appreciates her co-worker’s quick wit, remembering a time he overheard some of Johnson’s students after a difficult exam.

“The students asked if I’d buy them some ‘adult beverages’ because the test was so hard, and Dr. Nonnenmacher said, ‘Oh, prune juice,'” Johnson said.

During this semester, Nonnenmacher is teaching human anatomy and physiology I and II, where he said he hopes his enthusiasm for the subject encourages students to be excited. Nonnenmacher said that students commonly find biology classes intimidating and that “angst about the chemistry and physics involved” is the number one reason more students are not interested in biology.

It’s the angst Nonnenmacher sympathizes with. Originally avoiding science, his first bachelor’s degree was in English and art. Even now, if he were not involved in science, he said poetry would be his second career option. Nonnenmacher said he has no plans to give any lectures in iambic pentameter just yet.

In the past, he has taught general biology and introduction to entomology. Not one to don a white coat and work alone in a lab, he said teaching offers him the chance to merge all his interests through hands-on research, explaining to others, and continuing his own study.

“What makes me feel super lucky is I get to meet the best people in the profession and the best students coming up through the ranks,” he said. “It’s the best possible world, next to being independently wealthy.”