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Cummins, George B. (George Baker), 1904-2007



  • Existence: August 29, 1904 - March 30, 2007

Biographical Information

Professor George B. Cummins was an integral part of the School of Agriculture at Purdue University where he served as professor and department head. Cummins was born in Tecumseh, Nebraska, 29 August 1904, to Nellie Baker and George Wilson Cummins.

Cummins attended Montana State College (now Montana State University) in Bozeman. He began his career as an engineering major but after a year changed his major to botany and bacteriology. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Bacteriology from MSC in 1927, and began graduate study at the University of Michigan in the fall of 1927. He earned his Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1929. He went to Purdue in January 1930 to continue his graduate work and to assume a position on the Agricultural Experiment Station staff as a research assistant. There he earned his PhD in 1935, when he began working as faculty in the College of Agriculture and the Agricultural Experiment Statio at Purdue University.

In the fall of 1930 Cummins married Margaret Sempill and together they had two children, Richard in 1934 and Elaine in 1936. Sadly Margaret died shortly after Elaine was born. In 1938 Cummins married Mildred Shriver, a Purdue alumna.

He was affectionately known as "Dr. Rust." His professional specialty for almost his entire career was the taxonomy, biology and geographic distribution of the rust fungi (Uredinales, now known as Puccinales); a group of more than 7,000 species of obligate plant parasites, which he studied in the internationally renowned J. C. Arthur Herbarium at Purdue University. Cummins published nearly 120 peer-reviewed papers and ten books. One of those books was written at the age of 98. He was recognized as the world's foremost authority on the rust fungi. Purdue University awarded him an honorary doctoral degree in 1981. Other universities also awarded him honorary degrees. From 1970 to 1988 he was adjunct professor of plant pathology in the University of Arizona. Professor Cummins died March 30, 2007, in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 102.

Cummins was also active in the American Phytopathological Society of America, the Mycological Society of Mexico, the Torrey Botanical Club, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the Southwestern Association of Naturalists, the Indiana Academy of Science, and the International Association for Plant Taxonomy.


Inoculum: Newsletter of the Mycological Society of America, article by Cathie Aime, vol. 58 (3), May 2007, pp. 1-2. />

Obituary. />

Scholler, Markus. "Dr. George Baker Cummins, 1904-2007." Purdue Herbaria. />

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

George B. Cummins papers

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 17, Placement: 17
Identifier: MSF 71
Scope and Contents This collection consists of one folder of articles written by George Cummins, and an additional article about his life.
Dates: 1941 - 2007; Majority of material found within 1941 - 1943