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May 2021 Edition of the Official Newsletter of the
School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences
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Congratulations to the UMES Class of 2021!
UMES among recipients of USDA funding for Center of Excellence
SANS winners of the 2021 Regional Research Symposium
Edible insects gain interest with appearance of Brood X cicadas
Video: DelmarvaLife interviews UMES doctoral student Ebony Jenkins
Health benefits of ginger could combat obesity-COVID-19 risk factor
Message from the SANS Dean
COVID-19-UMES Updates & CDC Fact Sheet

UMES doctoral student explores effects of forever chemicals 
Physics professor's tutelage is a life-changer
Video: Dr. Kausik Das' recent award and overview of lab's activities
UMES researchers conduct hemp cultivar trial
Online lecture series features innovations in agriculture
Video: UMES Extension Small Ruminant Program
UMES joins in bicentennial celebration of U.S. House Ag Committee
UMES Land-grant Scholarship Program

Ingenuity, Spring 2020
Subscribe to Extension's Connections newsletter
New! Spring 2021-The Living Sea-LMRCSC newsletter
Congratulations to the UMES Class of 2021!
UMES returned to an in-person commencement on May 14 where 284 graduates received their degrees at a socially-distanced, scaled-back ceremony following pandemic protocols.  

Top left: UMES President Heidi Anderson praised students for doing a remarkable job helping keep campus safe to allow for an uninterrupted hybrid experience. Photo by Jim Glovier.

Top right:  A graduate strikes a celebratory pose after walking across the stage to accept her diploma. Photo by Jim Glovier.

Bottom left:  Alexia Nicholle Murcia from Berlin, Maryland, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in human ecology with a concentration in fashion merchandising. Submitted photo.

Bottom right:  DaQuan Davis from Prince Frederick, Maryland, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in environmental science. He is a NOAA-EPP LMRCSC Undergraduate Fellow. Submitted photo.

SANS graduates listed in commencement program
View the commencement video
UMES among recipients of $5.76 million in USDA funding to establish center of excellence
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture made an announcement May 12 that UMES is one of four 1890 land-grant institutions set to receive funding from its total investment of $5.76 million reserved for 1890 Centers of Excellence grants.

“The 1890 Centers of Excellence awards are an effort to increase rural prosperity and economic sustainability of food systems in underserved farming communities,” said NIFA director Dr. Carrie Castille. “These grants will support projects that address critical needs for developing global food security and defense; enhancing academic and career activities for students pursuing careers in food and agricultural sciences; and addressing vital needs in nutrition and health to improve the quality of life of underserved populations.”             

UMES will develop the 1890 Universities Center of Excellence for Global Food Security and Defense to foster international partnerships that strengthen agricultural development in developing countries and engage international researchers in addressing new and emerging animal and plant diseases, and agricultural disaster recovery.                                     

                                                                                                         Read More>

Congratulations to the SANS winners of the 
UMES 2021 Regional Research Symposium
In light of the pandemic, the UMES School of Graduate Studies held its first virtual edition of the Regional Research Symposium, April 22, as part of a Graduate Education Week (April 19-23) celebration.  This year's 11th annual symposium was themed, "Global Approaches:  Multidisciplinary Research in the 21st Century."  UMES students, faculty and staff competed against representatives from 17 other institutions from as far away as MIT and the University of California, Davis.  UMES holds Carnegie clarification as a High Research Activity Doctoral University.
Undergraduate Poster Award
Brittney Whitt, a senior biology major, took first place for her research poster titled, "Exploring Antibiotic Producing Streptomyces from Soil in Maryland.”
Undergraduate Oral Presentation Award

Teemer Barry, a senior majoring in environmental science and a NOAA LMRCSC undergraduate fellow, won first place presenting his research, “Probing Specialty Crops and Medicinal Herbs Extracts for Potential Antifouling Agents.”

Three Minute Thesis

Preeti Sharma, a doctoral student in the MEES program, was the winner of the "People's Choice Award in the Three Minute Thesis competition.  Her thesis is “The Use of Chitin and its Derivatives in Reversible Carbon Dioxide Sequestration.” 
Feyisanmi Ojo, a master's student in food and agricultural sciences, took first place in the Three Minute Thesis competition in the master's category for her thesis, “PFAS and its Toxicological Effect on Edible Crops.”

Click here for the Book of Abstracts
Edible insects gain interest with appearance of Brood X cicadas
UMES’ resident expert on 17-year cicadas, Ebony Jenkins, has met with recent notoriety.  The food and agricultural sciences doctoral student has been called on to share her fascination with and knowledge of the curious insect to local media and community groups.  She, however, adds a quirky and interesting angle to the story—not the insect’s entomology, but its edibility.

Jenkins’ research is agricultural entomophagy, rearing insects for human consumption, feed and biological controls.  She and her research advisor, Dr. Simon Zebelo, an associate professor of entomology and plant biology, tout the insect among others as a potentially safe, economical and nutritious source of protein.
Click image above to watch WBOC DelmarvaLife's Jimmy Hoppa and Lisa Bryant get a lesson on 17-year cicadas and the study of entomophagy (rearing insects for human consumption) with UMES doctoral student Ebony Jenkins.  
Health benefits of ginger could combat obesity-known risk factor for COVID-19
Dr. Victoria Volkis, a professor of chemistry in UMES' Department of Natural Sciences, will be collaborating with researchers at Virginia State University over the next three years in a study looking at the health benefits of ginger in combating obesity and other chronic diseases.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded VSU a $600,000 grant for the project for which Volkis has received a $124,000 subaward.

For her role in the research, Volkis will be “dealing with the phytochemical characterization of ginger grown under different conditions, as well as finding new applications for it besides traditional edibles.”  The subaward will also support the work of a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in chemistry in Volkis’ lab.


Dear SANS Stakeholders,

I am absolutely delighted that the spring semester has come to a safe conclusion. More importantly, on Friday, May 14, we conducted an in-person commencement ceremony while observing CDC guidelines. It was great to see graduates who have strived to earn bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees walk across the dais with their parents and guests proudly looking on. Congratulations, Class of 2021!
We are now firmly focused on getting summer academic, research and extension programs going. As always, I am amazed at the initiative and productivity of our faculty, students and staff.  Within this edition of the SANS Digest, you will read about exciting research efforts centered on the health benefits of ginger and our continued investigation of hemp as a potential cash crop for Eastern Shore farmers.
Concerning our students, you will read about a young man who is studying “forever chemicals” and a young lady who served as an expert for the media in regards to the re-emergence of the cicadas. Additionally, we are highlighting the recent winners of the 2021 UMES Regional Research Symposium. Congratulations to them and to the faculty, like Dr. Kausik Das, who educates them.
Finally, to all our stakeholders . . . thank you for your continued support. Please know that we are steadfastly committed to delivering on the tripartite mission of teaching, research and extension.
With very best wishes for a very productive summer to all . . .


Moses T. Kairo
SANS Professor and Dean

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
UMES doctoral student explores effects of forever chemicals on environment
According to a mapping study by the Environmental Working Group, significant levels of “forever chemicals” have been detected in 2,337 water systems in 49 U.S. states.  Eguono Omagamre, an environmental toxicology doctoral student, has spent the past four years studying their effect on the safety of water and agricultural food sources.

The findings from an initial experiment on the influence of perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) on beet armyworm were published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology Journal (Nov. 2020). Omagamre’s recent poster presentation, “Study of the modulatory impact of perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) on the growth and development of soybean (Glycine max (L.)) and cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme) plants,” earned first place at the 2021 Chesapeake Potomac Regional Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry spring meeting.

Dr. Joseph Pitula, Omagamre's research adviser, recently received a $600,000 Capacity Building Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the team to investigate the level and impact of water and soil PFAS contamination in farm facilities on Delmarva. Drs. Simon Zebelo and Victoria Volkis are collaborators.
Physics professor's tutelage is a life-changer
A longtime champion of guiding undergraduate research, Dr. Kausik Das can be proud of the recent accomplishments of his former students and the work they have achieved together.  Publications related to areas of their research at UMES have reached milestones and the students who were involved have excelled.  Six are currently attending graduate school with full scholarships, and one has a job offer from NASA Wallops and another from Intel.

“Dr. Das’ continued, outstanding training of our undergraduates obviously opens many doors for them in their futures,” said Dr. Jonathan Cumming, professor and chair of UMES’ Department of Natural Sciences.  “It especially bodes well for the diversification of the STEM workforces of the future.”

The associate professor of physics was among 16 peer educators out of more than 16,000 faculty members across the state honored by the University System of Maryland as recipients of the 2021 Regents’ Faculty Awardsthe highest honor presented by the board to exemplary faculty members. Das was chosen in the “scholarship, research or creative activity” category.
Click above image for a video on Dr. Kausik Das' recent award and overview of the research his lab and students are engaged in.
UMES researchers conduct hemp cultivar trial
UMES researchers involved in its Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program took to the fields early last month for a hemp cultivar screening trial.  Some 43 cultivars were planted that will be screened for cannabinoid production on the Eastern Shore where it shows promise as a potential cash crop for farmers.

The study will track cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels at weekly intervals following flower initiation, Dr. Sadanand Dhekney, an associate professor in UMES’ Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences and director of the program, said.  The research team will also record biomass yield in various cultivars.  Industrial hemp includes the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of the plant with a THC concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.

“Industrial hemp cultivars grown for seed, fiber or cannabinoids, including CBD, exhibit diverse growth and flower characteristics in response to specific environments,” Dhekney said.  “This makes it critical to screen hemp germplasm that will perform well in the soils and climate of the Eastern Shore.”
Online lecture series features innovations in agriculture
The second installment of UMES Extension's free online lecture series, “Ingenuity and Innovation in Agriculture: Talk with a Farmer,” took place May 15.  Some 58 registrants logged in to Zoom on a Saturday morning to hear how Mike and Ashley McMahon of Magnolia Farm in Esmont, Virginia got their business started and took note of some tips to start a small scale mushroom operation.

The McMahons turned a passion for foraging wild mushrooms into a small scale commercial operation featuring oyster, shiitake, reishi and lions mane mushrooms.  Their farm focuses on self-sustainability.  They also raise sheep, chickens, beef cattle, fruit trees and berries.  UMES Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor of Horticulture Dr. Naveen Kumar Dixit invited the couple to share his experiences with growers and consumers.

On May 29, Dixit hosted Mike and Tina Butler of
Bulter's Farm Market & Orchard in Crisfield, Maryland.  The couple discussed farm diversification through the cultivation of bedding plants and perennials for spring and summer sales.  The Butler's own an 11-acre farms where they currently have four tunnels and greenhouses with a total area of 10,032 square feet for the plants.  They also grow succulents as well as apples, strawberries, blackberries, greens, tomatoes and watermelon.

Visit for upcoming webinars and events.
UMES Extension Small Ruminant Program
SANS Ag Communications was on hand this spring to get a close up look at lambing and kidding on the UMES Farm.  Click on the image above to watch a video of a ewe giving birth.  Click here to visit the Small Ruminant Program. 

UMES joins in bicentennial celebration of
U.S. House Committee on Agriculture

Princess Anne Academy, Class of 1894, from left, are:  (seated) Estelle Stansberry, H. Alverta Waters Johnson, Annie Green, Annie Riley, Estena White, Ella Horsey (standing) Charles Winder, Joseph Hayman, John Waters, Walter Moore, Isaac Dennis and Robert Pinkett.

The U. S. House Committee on Agriculture is in the midst of celebrating its 200th anniversary. UMES’ School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences would like to help spotlight the significant moments throughout the committee’s history and mission of establishing federal agricultural policy and providing funding to ensure safe and affordable food, support agricultural research and development, and ensure the competitiveness of American agriculture.


To this end, The National Agricultural Library of the U.S. Department of Agriculture assembled a digital timeline highlighting significant events and people, along with farming, food and nutrition legislation in the committee’s history.                                                     
Read More>


Ingenuity, Spring 2020

The official research magazine of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences.

In this edition of Ingenuity, you will find stories about  research and key linkages we hold with our community.  It means we care about what's important to you.  From one story, you will learn how UMES is paving the way to a newly legalized hemp industry. And as usual, we like to tell you about outcomes concerning some of the activities of our students, faculty, alumni and Extension agents over the last year.

Read all about it ►

UMES Extension launched its e-newsletter Connections in November last year! 

Subscribers will be privy to opportunities available to the public as well as those only available to our subscribers.

To get your copy, subscribe today!
The NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) 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 (EPP/MSI). Click on the image to read its latest newsletter.
Upcoming Events
Fruit and Asian Vegetable Cultivation webinars-FREE!

The Basics of Growing Grapes-June 12, 10 a.m.

Establishing an Apple Orchard-July 3, 10 a.m.

Creative Science by UMES Extension 4-H STEM and InTheArtRoom

Paint by Science Series
June 9, 6-8 p.m., virtual

Art Exploration
June 10, 6-8 p.m., virtual


SANS in the News

USDA Awards $5.76 Million in Support of Four Centers of Excellence at 1890 Institutions
Oklahoma Farm Report, May 12, 2021

VSU researchers are expanding their study on health benefits of ginger in combating obesity
Independent-Messenger, May 10, 2021


New Research Publications

Meier, S., Moore, F., Khan, N.,  Gonzalez, M.E., Medina, J., Cumming, J., Morales, A., Duran, P., Seguel, A., Aponte, H. Effect of Poultry Manure Compost and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi on Cu Immobilization and Soil Microbial Communities in a Cu-Contaminated Soil Using the Metallophyte Oenothera PicensisJ Soil Sci Plant Nutr (2021).

Barnes, B., Ouro-Koura, H., Derickson, J., Lebarty, S., Omidokun, J., Bane, N., Suleiman, O., Omagamre, E., Fotouhi, M.J., Ogunmolasuyi, A., Dominguez, A., Gonick, L., Das, K. Plasma generation by household micorwave oven for surface modification and other emerging applications. Am. J. Phys. (April 2021).

Previous Editions . . .

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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