Acting Secretary of Higher Education, State of Maryland
Maryland, USA

Dr. Jennie C. Hunter-Cevera is currently serving as the Acting Secretary of Higher Education in the State of Maryland. Her primary role is regulatory and coordinating oversight of higher education that includes public and private four year institutions of higher learning, community colleges and private trade schools.

In 2012, Jennie founded Hunter and Associates, a consulting firm focusing on finding integrative solutions to complex problems in the life sciences arena that include sustainability issues. Her clients ranged from large research universities to start up biotechnology companies and U.S. Government Agencies.

Her 22 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries include work with E. R. Squibb and Sons, Cetus Corporation, GeoBiotics and Universal Foods. She founded both The Biotic Network and Blue Sky Laboratory and spent five years as the head of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In addition, she served for ten years as the president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. From 2009-2012, she was the Executive Vice President of Discovery and Analytical Sciences, Government Relations, Public Relations and Corporate Development at RTI International, a non-profit government contract research institution. She successfully increased revenues by 25% within three years while lowering operating costs by 9%. In addition, she founded two new centers, the Center for Agriculture and Environmental Biotechnology (CAEB) and the Molecular, Epigentic, Genomic, Environment and Health Center (MEGEH) which focused on personalized medicine. CAEB was sold to FMC for ~20X the original investment and MEGEH’s original concept programs continue to grow.

Dr. Hunter-Cevera holds 15 patents and specializes in screen design for the discovery of natural compounds in the areas of human therapeutics, nutraceticals, biodefense, sustainable agriculture, bioremediation and biocatalysis for industrial processes in the food and clothing industries. She is the author of many scientific papers and has presented many keynote lectures and served as both moderator and panelist on various aspects of biotechnology both in the national and international arenas.

She is currently on the board of directors for Aqua Animal Health, a growth protein research company and Patients with Power, a bioinformatics company and previously served as a board director for Entremed, an oncology discovery and clinical research company. She has also served as president of the Society for Industrial Microbiology (SIM), the International Marine Biotechnology Association and the United States Federation of Culture Collections. Most recently, she was chair of the National Research Council’s committee on large-scale production of biofuels from algae. She has chaired two other NRC committees and served as senior editor of the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology for ten years. She currently is on the editorial board of Industrial Biotechnology and was the guest editor for the October, 2014 issue.

Dr. Hunter-Cevera served on the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Advisory board, MDBio’s board of directors, MDBio Foundation and BioIT Coalition. In addition, she sat on the executive committee of Governor Erhlich’s transition team and his committee on science, technology, engineering and math. She was the technology representative for Governor Glendenning to the Southern Governor’s Association and served and chaired the Maryland Technology Economic Development Corporation board of directors. She currently is the chair of the board of directors for the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies.

She is the recipient of several awards and honors, including Maryland’s Top 50 Influential People and Top 100 Women. She received the Porter Award from the American Society for Micriobiology (ASM) for distinguished research in microbial systematics and taxonomy. She was also elected as a SIM fellow, a member of the ASM Academy of Microbiology and an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow.

Dr. Hunter-Cevera completed a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s in microbial ecology from West Virginia University. She was named a WVU Distinguished Alumni, Nath Lecturer, and presented with an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in May of 2012. She received her doctorate in microbial physiology and biochemistry from Rutgers University. In April of 2015, Jennie received the Cook College Alumni Association Dennis Fenton Distinguished Alumni Award.