UMES announces new natural sciences department chair | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

UMES announces new natural sciences department chair

  • Dr. Jonathan CummingPRINCESS ANNE, MD — (September 17, 2020) —Dr. Jonathan Cumming is braving the academic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic during his first semester as the incoming chair of the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Cumming’s tenure began July 1.

    "I would like to take this opportunity to publicly express my very deep gratitude to Dr. Deborah Sauder, who has ably led the department over the last nearly seven years. Under her leadership the department has thrived, underpinned by the highly dedicated faculty and staff. I am convinced that the department is well positioned to continue delivering on its mission of educating students and conducting cutting edge research," said Dr. Moses T. Kairo, dean of the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences.  

    Cumming’s 30-year career includes extensive leadership, teaching and research in the areas of biology and natural sciences. Before bringing his skill set to the Lower Shore, Cumming served as a professor of biology at West Virginia University. There, his teaching and research focused on plant acclimation to the stress and the role of microbial symbionts in mediating stress tolerance in plants. His area of research was imperative in maintaining food fiber and biofuel production on non-fertile soils.

    “I’m thankful for the opportunity and grateful that the community has faith in me to undertake the position as chairman of the Department of Natural Sciences,” Cumming said. “I will work diligently to support the activities to advance the education of our students and the development of our faculty and staff’s careers.”

    The successful search, which spanned nearly one year, was conducted to replace Sauder, who has a 30-plus year career in biology, chemistry and biochemistry.

    Cumming holds a doctorate in natural resources from Cornell University, a Master of Science in forest science from the University of New Hampshire and a Bachelor of Science in botany/plant biology from The College of William and Mary. When it comes to leadership, the new chairman is dedicated to collaboration and team building.

    “Together we can join our energies to support these aspiring young adults, harness our knowledge and support each other to build our educational community,” Cumming said. “I believe I will build outstanding relationships with my colleagues, and together, we will establish the university as an institution where doors are opened, careers launched and dreams are fulfilled.”


    Tanesha Hankerson, communications and outreach specialist, Department of Natural Sciences, 410-651-6196,