Alumni & Supporters of PLU's Division of Natural Sciences,

Hi, I’m Ann Auman – now that Fall semester is well underway, I am writing this letter to introduce myself as the Dean of Natural Sciences, which became effective August 1st, 2017, taking over from my colleague Dr. Matthew Smith. Matt served in this role for 6 years and accomplished a great deal. As I have transitioned into the role, I have appreciated working with Matt and all members of PLU’s Natural Sciences community—faculty, students, staff, alumni, and supporters of the division—and I look forward to our continued work together in the years ahead.

Regarding my history and experience with PLU, I have been a Biology Department faculty member for 15 years. I have served as Biology Department chair for 4 years and have been consistently active in PLU’s strong faculty governance system. During the J-term and Spring of 2017, I served as PLU’s site director for our Gateway Program in Namibia; there I lived for 5 months both coordinating our students’ activities and teaching a Biology class.

With respect to my scholarly pursuits, I am a microbial ecologist by training and participated in the NSCI Division’s Undergraduate Research Program for many years. More recently, I have brought my research interests into the classroom by facilitating, with Biology colleagues, a semester-long project using culture-based and molecular techniques to characterize microbial communities from soil samples during the laboratory component of the Biology Department’s upper division microbiology course.

As an educator, I am committed to providing high quality educational resources for biology students everywhere. A prime example of my work includes contributing to an open access microbiology textbook endorsed by the American Society for Microbiology, writing, editing, and reviewing many chapters of the book and its supplementary materials, all now freely available to students and instructors on-line.

Several years ago, the division wrote the following statement of vision:

The Division of Natural Sciences at PLU envisions itself as a leader in undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, providing our students with a distinct, personalized liberal arts education through the incorporation of experiential, collaborative, investigative, quantitative, technologically-advanced and interdisciplinary approaches to learning.

It is my goal as dean to build a greater sense of community and instill a spirit of collaboration within the Division of Natural Sciences, working together to achieve this vision and better capitalizing on our great strengths as we move forward.

As such, if you are interested in learning more about the activities in which we are engaged and the accomplishments of our faculty, students, and alumni, I invite you to contact Christine Nicolai ( to be added to our distribution list for future communications. Please feel free to let us know what you are currently up to. For more frequent insights into our Natural Sciences community, you can also “like” our divisional and departmental Facebook pages. You are also welcome to contact me directly at I look forward to hearing from you!

As the days become shorter here at PLU, I hope that you enjoy the holiday season ahead followed by a new year filled with adventure and new possibilities.

Ann J. Auman, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Dean of Natural Sciences