- Professor of Biology
- Undergraduate Research Program Director
- Responsible Administrator for the Tacoma/South Puget Sound MESA Program
- 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
Dr. Ann Auman is Dean of the Division 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 on-line Microbiology textbook published by OpenStax, written in collaboration with the American Society for Microbiology.
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, Geosciences, 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. 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.