Derek Cummings, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

2023 Awardee

Derek Cummings has made significant contributions to the field of infectious disease control, especially since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

In addition to COVID, Cummings’ use of field study and theoretical models of infectious disease has helped scientists and public health officials better understand the transmission dynamics of diseases such as dengue, influenza, measles, hepatitis C and Chikungunya. His research program uses tools from epidemiology, evolutionary biology and dynamical systems to understand the ecology of infectious pathogens.

During the COVID pandemic, his work on SARS-CoV-2 led to measurements of vaccine effectiveness, estimates of transmissibility, estimates and guidance to prepare for a surge in hospitalizations. Cummings, who holds a joint appointment in the Emerging Pathogens Institute, created one of the first estimates of the basic reproductive number of SARS and provided many early estimates of the effectiveness of vaccines.

Cummings’ expertise has been cited by the State of Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ministry of Health of Brazil, and the Ministry of Health of Cameroon. His work has informed the United Kingdom’s response to COVID-19 and been cited in Congressional testimony by Anthony Fauci.

Cummings has published 209 peer-reviewed research papers in such top-tier journals as Science, Nature, JAMA, Lancet, Nature Medicine, PNAS and Nature Communications.

“His expertise is recognized worldwide and his research output is a testament to his dedication to the field of epidemiology and his commitment to finding effective strategies for the control of infectious diseases,” said W. Brad Barbazuk, chair of the biology department.