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February 2022 Edition of the Official Newsletter of the
School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences
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Snowy start to Spring 2022 semester

UMES welcomed students back to the nest for the start of the spring semester on January 31 with a delayed start due to a nor'easter that brought approximately six inches of snow to campus.  Classes for the first two hours took part virtually and resumed in person at 10 a.m.  
SANS students to represent UMES
at the HBCU Battle of the Brains
UMES' Battle of the Brains team from left, are: T’Naisha McLean Addison (senior, biology), Ezra Cable (junior, biochemistry), Jasmine Pearson (senior, biology), Dr. Victoria Volkis (professor of chemistry, faculty mentor), Keith Bratley (grad student, chemistry, team captain), Dr. William Weaver (associate visiting professor of chemistry, faculty trainer), Bokary Sylla (senior, chemistry), and Riham Alhag (grad student, agriculture). Breann Green, a grad student in the MEES program, is not pictured.

A team of UMES students are hard at work preparing for the 5th annual HBCU Battle of the Brains, described as "a national academic championship and experiential diversity recruiting showcase."  They will travel to Austin, Texas, March 8-14 to be pitted against other HBCU teams in a business challenge competition.  It is a first for UMES.

From a field of approximately 50 teams, seven final teams will face off in the finals to vie for a top institutional prize of $50,000 ($25,000 and $10,000 for second and third, respectively) along with eight individual scholarships ranging from $2,000-$5,000.  The teams will have 24 hours to tackle a business challenge developing a solution that incorporates design, policy, business and STEM components, said Dr. Victoria Volkis, a chemistry professor at UMES and the faculty mentor.  Teams, she said, will be judged on their analysis and solution to the business problem along with their presentation and their performance during a Q&A session.

UMES alumna named VP, Marketing at Porsche
We're proud of our SANS alumna Ayesha Coker for being promoted to vice president of marketing at Atlanta-based Porsche Cars North America Inc. Coker graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in fashion merchandising from UMES and a dual Associate Applied Science degree in advertising and integrated marketing communications from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. 
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza detected in the U.S. 
Word is (hopefully!) getting out that the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in commercial poultry flocks in the U.S. for the first time since 2020. 

A February 23 USDA-APHIS report confirmed HPAI in a commercial poultry flock in New Castle County, Delaware, bringing it onto the Delmarva Peninsula.  It was initially detected in a commercial flock of turkeys in Dubois County, Indiana on February 9 after seeing increased mortality.  A week later (February 12), broiler chickens on a Fulton County, Kentucky farm tested positive for HPAI.  On the same day, backyard poultry on a home in Fauquier County, Virginia also tested positive.  All birds have or are in the process of being depopulated.

HPAI has been detected in wild waterfowl in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, the Carolinas, Florida and New Hampshire; the suspected source of the Virginia flock’s infection.

“These announcements are a reminder to anyone who raises poultry to be vigilant and practice biosecurity to protect their flock,” said Dr. Jennifer Timmons, an assistant professor and poultry science researcher at UMES. 

HERE for important biosecurity information, including links to websites and phone numbers for reporting.  
VIDEO:  Click on the image above as 47 abc talks to Dr. Jennifer Timmons, an assistant professor and poultry science researcher at UMES, about the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the U.S. including cases in Delaware and Virginia.
UMES shares biotechnology knowledge in Central Asia 
Top left, Kyrgyz National University students observe while Dr. Sadanand Dhekney demonstrates the  isolation of plant meristems from grapevine tissues infected with crown gall disease.

Top right, Faculty in Kyrgyz National University's School of Biological Sciences welcome their visiting professor from the U.S.

Above left, Dhekney pays a visit to the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to inspect local fruit.

Above right, A farmer in the village of Darkhan receives insight from Dhekney (pictured far left) on fire blight in pear trees.

UMES expertise in biotechnology and precision plant breeding is being shared with the Kyrgyz National University in Kyrgyzstan through an international collaboration.  Dr. Sadanand Dhekney, an associate professor in UMES’ Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences, traveled to the country from late November-early December 2021 through the Central Asia University Partnerships Program of the American Councils for International Education. In Kyrgyzstan, he called on 15 years of experience with precision breeding of grapes for disease resistance.

His mission was multi-faceted—to conduct a two-day hands-on workshop at the university and to visit vineyards and orchards for extension activities with local farmers.  Over 40 students of KNU and their faculty members received training in plant tissue culture and genetic engineering during the workshop.  In addition, Dhekney provided students with information about opportunities at UMES and encouraged them to apply to graduate programs.

Following the workshop, KNU hosts escorted Dhekney to the Issyk-Kul region to survey vineyards and orchards.  Growers there, he said, focus on fruit crops, including grapes, apricots, apples, pears and sweet cherries.  Dhekney worked with farmers on cultivation practices, pest and disease management strategies, crop production issues, irrigation practices, labor availability during harvesting, marketing, crop pricing and sustainability of crop production.
DNS Chair lends expertise to shed light on recent climate change reports listing 2021 as catastrophic year from coast to coast
VIDEO:  Click the image above as UMES Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences Dr. Jonathan Cumming provides 47 abc with insight into a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report that 2021 was the third most costly extreme weather year on record.
VIDEO:  Click the image above as 47 abc gets a UMES expert's take on a Rhodium Group report indicating greenhouse gas emissions rose by 6.2 % in 2021.  Dr. Jonathan Cumming discusses the factors contributing to the backwards slide in the fight against climate change and what can be done, even as individuals, to help reduce our carbon footprint.
UMES microbiologist lends expertise
to international food safety
Dr. Salina Parveen and Dr. Mohammad Aminul Islam visit a whole fish market in Bangladesh to understand the sources of microbial contamination of fish and behavioral practices of value chain actors.
Fish, which make up 80% of the animal protein consumed by the people of Bangladesh, is the most culturally preferred food after rice.  Not surprisingly, fish farming (aquaculture) is currently one of the most important sectors of the national economy.  Problematic to the system is that the country’s aquaculture industry has suffered from issues with food safety due to microbial contamination that has proven harmful to both the health of domestic consumers and the country’s access to international markets.

“Apart from primary contamination in ponds, fish can be contaminated in various stages of the supply chain,” said Dr. Salina Parveen, a professor of food microbiology and safety, environmental microbiology, and molecular biology at UMES.  “At the retail markets, most buyers take the freshly bought fish to a merchant who cuts and cleans the fish, often under unhygienic conditions. Because of the large number of actors, it makes it difficult to regulate and ensure the safety of the product at each step of the process.”

Parveen, a native of Bangladesh, is involved in a collaborative three-year project to assess the entirety of the supply chain of the two most commonly consumed fish, tilapia and panga, for contamination with major foodborne pathogens.  Stakeholders’ behavioral practices in each stage of the supply chain will be analyzed to see how they contribute to the contamination of fish at the consumers’ point, she said.  The data generated from the project will contribute to the development of a quantitative microbial risk assessment model to identify critical points for implementing future intervention strategies—an important step toward addressing food safety in aquaculture systems in the country.
The health and well-being of our campus and the community is our highest priority. The University's Task Force is working diligently to stay informed of changing dynamics in the coronavirus outbreak. 
UMES Updates
CDC Guidelines
EXCITE program aims to build trust and
COVID-19 vaccine confidence
Click on the image above to view a video produced through UMES Extension's EXCITE program, an 1890 Universities Foundation-funded project to address vaccine hesitancy among targeted audiences in the Tri-County area of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.
UMES looks at ways to help Delmarva farmers deal with salt intrusion in soybean fields
Delmarva farmlands are among the most critical areas of susceptibility to rising sea levels due to global climate change.  Saltwater intrusion and well irrigation can impair the growth of salt sensitive row crops such as soybeans and corn—traditional staples for agricultural producers in the Mid-Atlantic.

Dr. Naveen Kumar Dixit, a UMES Extension specialist and assistant professor of horticulture, is looking at ways to help area farmers mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on farm productivity and sustainability through research and extension activities on salt tolerant soybeans.  Dixit conducted research from May-October 2021 funded by a nearly $20,000 grant from the Maryland Soybean Board and presented his findings at events such as the annual Maryland Commodity Classic at Queen Anne’s 4-H Park last summer.  He worked with three varieties of soybeans, comparing how commercially available varieties compare to a salt tolerant one.

“Screening salt tolerant soybean varieties will help growers select those that can survive in salt affected soils,” Dixit said.  “Cultivation of salt tolerant crops in coastal areas not only minimizes economic losses on farms, but also prevents soil erosion and the proliferation of invasive plants.”
UMES helping to revitalize a lost local industry
UMES assistant professor of horticulture and UMES Extension specialist Dr. Naveen Kumar Dixit is helping to revitalize the fruit industry in the Mid-Atlantic.  As the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research & Educations (NE-SARE) state coordinator, he conducts research funded through the agency and helps promote its grants to local growers, students and fellow faculty researchers. 

Dixit's NE-SARE grant allows him to offer four to six hands-on training sessions each year at the UMES Orchard and at local farms such as Butler's Farm Market and Orchard  in neighboring Marion, Maryland.  The owner, Michael Butler, and Dixit have become partners in education, learning from each other's experiences and passing the knowledge on.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number NEUMES17-001.
The American Chemical Society is looking for high school students interested in its 2022 Project SEED summer program. It's mission is "to provide sustained STEM research, learning, and growth opportunities for high school students with diverse identities and socioeconomic backgrounds so they can be empowered to advance and enrich the chemical science enterprise."

UMES will be accepting two high school students to work in its research labs for the full-time eight-week in-person summer internship program that includes a $3,200 stipend.  Interested students will need to apply through a centralized process with the ACS and choose UMES as the preferred program site on the application. The deadline to apply is March 10.
Click HERE to apply by March 21. Select UMES as the site.
View the Project SEED 2022 Student Info Session HERE
Help spread the word: summer internships for undergraduates from outside UMES
Apply now through April 1 to UMES' AFRI-EWD-REEU 2022 Summer Internship!

The program, supported by a nearly half a million dollar USDA-NIFA grant, is slated to take place on campus (pending COVID guideline updates) May 30-August 7.  Applicants for the summer program must be full-time non-UMES undergraduate students in agriculture, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, environmental science, computer science, engineering or technology who are interested in exploring how their major can be applied to a career in agriculture and food science. 

To apply, applicants can send a two-page essay explaining their interest in applying their major to agriculture and food science, their resume and unofficial transcripts to Dr. Victoria Volkis at before April 1, 2022.  Interns receive a $3,000 stipend in addition to room and board for in-person or $4,000 if remote. 
UMES is among the 2022 locations for the AgDiscovery Summer Program.

The free two-week program takes place at UMES June 12-25 through the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences.  AgDiscovery is offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give middle and high school students the opportunity to live and study on a college campus and get a first-hand look at the many career paths open in the agricultural sciences.

Participants will:
•Increase their awareness of the diverse careers and opportunities in food and agricultural sciences
•Participate in experiential learning activities through a series of hands-on labs, workshops, research projects and field trips
•Interact with scientists conducting state-of-the-art research at the UMES Agricultural Experiment Station and at regional research centers
•Participate in character and team-building activities
•Reside on the university campus

Students currently in grades 8-11 can apply below. 
For more information, contact Corrie Cotton,
Register HERE before March 31, 2022
View the photo gallery from UMES' 2021 summer program HERE!

The University of Maryland Extension is seeking undergraduate students interested in careers in extension and agriculture industries. 


Applications are now open for the 2022 Creating Leadership and Professional Development Through Extension Internships Program, a paid internship opportunity.  Are you an undergraduate student currently enrolled in a four-year degree program in agriculture, natural sciences, biological sciences or a related program? 

For ten weeks in Summer 2022, participate in an experiential learning and professional development opportunity while exploring extension careers, applied research, and non-formal education outreach. Interns are expected to attend weekly virtual pre-internship training sessions prior to the internship start date on May 20, 2022. 

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, AFRI Competitive Grant Workforce Development, project MD-UME-09312.

Click HERE to apply by Tues., March 11, before midnight
Winter 2022 now available!
The NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center trains and graduates students from underrepresented communities in marine science for careers in research, management, and public policy that support the sustainable harvest and conservation of our nation's living marine resources. With its partner institutions, the LMRCSC conducts research on marine and estuarine systems congruent with the interests of NOAA Fisheries. The Center is supported by the  NOAA Education Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions.  
Click on the image to read the latest newsletter.
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Upcoming Events

Register at

All classes will follow COVID-19 guidelines
UMES Extension Agribusiness & Tax Considerations Workshop
March 3, 1-5 p.m. and March 4, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

UMES Research and Educations Farm
"This two-day workshop is designed to equip farmers with a better understanding of business and agricultural tax issues associated with managing a farm operation."  $25 registration fee includes materials and lunch on Day 2.

Register HERE!

UMES Extension Spring Herb Webinar Series-FREE!
March 2, 12-1 p.m., "Timing is EVERYTHING"
March 16, 12-1 p.m., "Cover Crops and Growing Roots"
March 30, 12-1 p.m., "Leafy Herbs and Flowers"
April 13, 12-1 p.m., Processing Roots, Leaves and Flowers from Harvest to Value-added Product"
April 30, Field Day at UMES Research and Education Farm (webinar attendees only)

Register for complete series and field day HERE!

Hybrid Event: Greenhouse Ethnic Vegetable Production-FREE!
UMES Extension in collaboration with VSU Cooperative Extension
March 23, 2-4 p.m., UMES Research and Education Farm or via Zoom
"Learn how to grow and market ethnic crops by getting an early start in the greenhouse.  Increasing demand for ethnic crops has opened new and exciting markets.  Understand your demographics and which vegetables are in demand."

Register at

For more information, call 410-621-5450 or email

UMES Extension MyFaRM Program-FREE!
"Production Risk"
Tuesday, March 8, 9 a.m.-noon, Henson Center, UMES

Managing production risks of horticultural crops.  Instructor: Ginny Rosenkranz. Registration HERE!

UMES Extension MyFaRM Program-FREE!
"Production Risk" 
Thursday, March 31, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., (lunch provided) Henson Center, UMES; immediately following on-site workshop at Provident Organic Farm, Bivalve, MD

Production risk related to a greenhouse and transplant business.  Instructor: Jay Martin. Registration HERE!

UMES Extension MyFaRM Program-FREE!
"Production Risk"
Thursday, April 7, 9 a.m.-noon, Henson Center, UMES

Covers the management of production risks associated with specialty and ethnic crops.  Instructor: Dr. Nadine Burton. Registration HERE!

UMES Extension MyFaRM Program-FREE!
"Marketing Risk"
Friday, May 13, 1-3 p.m., Henson Center, UMES

Covers marketing risks farmers may not be aware of when marketing their products to the public.  Instructor: Dr. Theresa Nartea. Registration HERE!

SANS in the News

Ukrainian-Americans on Delmarva Show Support for Home Country
WBOC video, February 28, 2022, Dr. Victoria Volkis

Bird influenza making its way to the states, UMES professor says keep an eye out
WMDT video, February 14, 2022, Dr. Jennifer Timmons

UMES Seeks to Provide Resources for Black Farmers
WBOC video, February 9, 2022, Berran Rogers Jr.

Do you know the Better Chicken Commitment?
The Delmarva Farmer, January 28, 2022, Dr. Jennifer Timmons

2021 is third most catastrophic climate year on record, according to NOAA
WMDT, January 11, 2022, Dr. Jonathan Cumming

Porsche Cars North America starts new year with two new executives
(Ayesha Coker, UMES Human Ecology alum)
Globe Newswire,, January 10, 2022

Coal emissions rise in 2021 as economy begins recovery
WMDT, January 10, 2022, Dr. Jonathan Cumming


New Research Publications

Dixit, N. 2022, Salinity Induced Antioxidant Defense in Roots of Industrial Hemp (IH: Cannabis sativa L.) for Fiber during Seed Germination. Antioxidants 11, no. 2: 244.

Röver, M., Shaw, A. & Kuster, C.J.  2022., International Pesticide Operator Safety Meeting 2021: hand-held application scenarios in low- and middle-income countries. J Consum Prot Food Saf. DOI 10.1007/s00003-021-01359-5 

Punchihewage-Don, A. J., Parveen, S., Schwarz, J., Hamil, L., Nindo, C., Hall, P., and  Vimini, B. 2021. Efficacy and quality attributes of antimicrobial agent application via a commercial electrostatic spray cabinet to inactivate Salmonella on chicken thigh meat. Journal of Food Protection. 84(12):2221-2228. Doi: 10.4315/JFP-21-206.

Acheamfour , C.L., Parveen, S., Hashem, F., Sharma, M., Gerdes, M.E., May, E.B., Rogers, K., Haymaker, J., Duncan, R., Foust, D., Taabodi, M., Handy, E.T., East, C., Bradshaw, R., Kim, S., Micallef , S.A., Callahan, M.T., Allard, S., Anderson-Coughlin, B. Craighead, S., Kniel, K.E,  Solaiman, S., Bui , A., Murray, R., Craddock, H.A.,  Prachi, K.P., Goldstein, R.E., and Sapkota, A.R. 2021. Levels of Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes in alternative irrigation water vary based on water source on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Microbiology Spectrum. 9(2):e0066921. Doi:10.1128/Spectrum.00669-21.

Peng, M., Tabashsum, Z., Millner, P., Parveen, S., and Biswas, D. 2021. Influence of manure application on the soil bacterial microbiome in integrated crop-livestock farms in Maryland. Microorganisms.9:2586.

Previous Editions . . .

The SANS Monthly Digest-January 2022

The SANS Monthly Digest-December 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-November 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-October 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-September 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-August 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-July 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-June 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-May 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-April 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-March 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-February 2021
The SANS Monthly Digest-January 2021

The SANS Monthly Digest-December 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest-November 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest-October 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest-September 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest- August 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest - June 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest- May 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest - April 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest- March 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest - February 2020
The SANS Monthly Digest - January 2020

The SANS Monthly Digest - December 2019
The SANS Monthly Digest - November 2019
The SANS Monthly Digest - October 2019
The SANS Monthly Digest - September 2019
The SANS Monthly Digest - August 2019
The SANS Monthly Digest - July 2019
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