Ann Auman

Dean of Natural Sciences


Ann Auman

Office Location: Morken Center for Learning & Technology - 239

Office Hours: (On Campus) Mon - Fri: By Appointment

  • Professional
  • Biography
  • News

Additional Titles/Roles

  • Professor of Biology
  • Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Program Director
  • Responsible Administrator for the Tacoma/South Puget Sound MESA Program
  • Pre-Health Sciences Advising Team Member
  • STEMinist Student Club Faculty Advisor


  • Ph.D., Microbiology, University of Washington, 2001
  • B.S. with Honors, Microbiology, The Pennsylvania State University, 1996
  • B.S., Cellular and Molecular Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, 1996

Areas of Emphasis or Expertise

  • Microbial Ecology


  • Nester's Microbiology: A Human Perspective, 11th Edition (McGraw-Hill 2024)
  • Microbiology (OpenStax 2016) : View Book


  • Awarded $15,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Challenge
  • Co-PI on National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM Track 1 Award, August 2019 - August 2024: $649,981; Title: "Supporting STEM Development at the Roots: Providing Scholarship, Curricular, and Cocurricular Support to Underserved STEM Students."
  • Received National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Opportunity Award, July 2008 – March 2010: $19,300; Title: "Investigations of diversity and novel microbial communities in forest canopy soils: a preliminary study"

Professional Memberships/Organizations


Dr. Ann Auman is Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) and a Professor of Biology. After completing undergraduate degrees in Microbiology and Molecular and Cell Biology at the Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Auman completed her Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of Washington. There, her thesis research focused on analyzing communities of methane-oxidizing bacteria in Lake Washington sediment, focusing on techniques allowing for estimating population sizes of different subgroups of these bacteria.

Since her arrival at PLU in the Fall of 2002, Dr. Auman has primarily taught introductory biology and microbiology courses. As a microbial ecologist, Dr. Auman’s professional interests focus on studying microbial communities in natural environments with the goal of understanding how the microbes contribute to global processes and what products the microbes make that may be of biotechnological significance. She was a research mentor for many years in PLU’s Natural Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (NSSURP) where her research team examined microbial communities in various soils collected from the Pacific Northwest looking for their potential to produce novel antimicrobial compounds. Over time, she moved this research project into the laboratory component of her microbiology course where teams of students work on this project. In recent years, informed by her 20+ years of undergraduate teaching experience, Dr. Auman has also written a variety of high-quality, peer-reviewed biology educational materials for students and educators, including being a significant contributor to the freely available online Microbiology textbook published by OpenStax, written in collaboration with the American Society for Microbiology. Recently, Dr. Auman has been added as a coauthor to the upcoming 11th edition of Nester’s Microbiology: A Human Perspective, scheduled to be published by McGraw-Hill in 2024.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Auman has long been an active member of the PLU faculty. She has served in many roles and has held several leadership positions in PLU’s faculty governance system. She has additionally served as Chair of the Biology Department and as Site Director for PLU’s Gateway Program in Namibia. In 2017, Dr. Auman accepted the position of Dean of the Division of Natural Sciences where she oversees six academic departments (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Science, Mathematics, and Physics) as well as PLU’s Pre-Health Sciences and Dual-Degree Engineering advising programs. Her role also includes the directorship of the NSSURP and the position of Responsible Administrator (RA) for the Tacoma/South Puget Sound MESA Program. She also serves as co-principal investigator of PLU’s STEM Scholars Program, which provides scholarship, curricular, and cocurricular support to low-income STEM students at PLU, an initiative supported by a recent award to PLU from the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM Program. Beginning in Spring 2022, Dr. Auman accepted the position of Dean of the newly-formed College of Natural Sciences. The College includes the departments previously housed in the Division of Natural Sciences, as well as Psychology and the Environmental Studies program. Through her leadership, Dr. Auman is committed to promoting equity and to building a holistic learning environment for faculty and students at PLU and in our local community.

July 12, 2022 PLU News, PLU awarded $15,000 from NSF for COVID-19 DEI Challenge, View
March 08, 2019 PLU News, PLU secures prestigious National Science Foundation grant for low-income STEM students, View
May 01, 2018 ResoLute, Faculty Proudly Wear First-Gen Experience, View
March 21, 2018 PLU News, Office Hours, View