Faculty Spotlight: Dave Cummings, Ph.D., Professor of Biology

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

PLNU’s Dr. Dave Cummings is more than a biology professor. He’s a devoted husband and father, who commits his days to working with students on various research projects. Most recently, they’ve received attention for their work around drug-resistance genes in parts of the Tijuana River Valley.

As an environmental microbiologist, Cummings works to minimize public health risk by studying pollutants in areas such as the Tijuana River Valley. He’s been working with student teams for eight years and he proudly explains that their time in the lab and the field equips them for success in graduate school after PLNU. In addition to his local projects, Cummings travels with students to the jungles of Costa Rica almost every year for the unique opportunity to study its rich, tropical environment.

Cummings graduated from Point Loma Nazarene College in 1995, but he didn’t study microbiology then. Actually, he didn’t major in science at all. Instead, he received a B.A. in English Literature, but during his senior year he had several conversations with his biology professor, Dr. Fulcher (now PLNU Provost) and as a result decided to pursue a graduate degree in biology. After a difficult search, he was accepted to the University of Idaho and assigned to an E. coli lab where he first discovered his passion for microbiology. In 2004, he came back home to PLNU as a professor of biology.

When he’s not on campus, Cummings is most likely with his wife, Ann, and their three children. They live in Santee where you’ll find him helping with homework, juggling Cub Scouts meetings and sports practices, or serving at church. Whenever he gets the chance, he slips away for a little hiking, backpacking, and fly-fishing anywhere from the Tijuana Estuary to the High Sierra mountains.