search

Senior Associate Deans

Beth A. Ahner, Ph.D. and Amy McCune, Ph.D., are the senior associate deans. Together, they oversee faculty and department affairs, sponsored research, and the academic aspects of facilities, financial planning, and human resources.

Beth Ahner

Beth Ahner

Beth Ahner, professor of biological and environmental engineering, is a senior associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Her responsibilities include faculty affairs, department and program reviews, sponsored research oversight, management of core research funds, and academic aspects of facilities and human resources. Ahner's academic appointment is in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell’s Ithaca campus with responsibilities for research and teaching.

The goal of her research is to understand how organisms adapt to trace metal stress in the environment and in turn, how they influence the form of metals in the environment. Discoveries in this area lead to better strategies to remediate metal contamination in the environment and to a better understanding of natural ecosystems. Professor Ahner’s research in environmental biotechnology explores how plants solubilize, take up, detoxify, and sequester metals. Her lab group focuses on questions involving intracellular detoxification mechanisms and how biological processes affect the biogeochemical cycling of metals in both the natural environment and in engineered systems. One application of this research is phytoremediation - the use of plants to remove metals from contaminated soils.

Ahner received her B.S. in civil and environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989. She conducted her graduate studies also at MIT/CEE where she received a Ph.D. in 1994. Her postdoctoral work was performed at MIT and Princeton. She joined Cornell as an assistant professor in 1996, was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and to professor in 2009. She served as associate chair and then chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering from 2008 to 2015.

Beth Ahner's faculty page

Amy McCune

Amy McCune

Amy McCune, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology—who specializes in investigating the history of life through the study of fishes—is a senior associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Her responsibilities include faculty affairs, department and program reviews, sponsored research oversight, management of core research funds, and the academic aspects of facilities and human resources. McCune's academic appointment is in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell’s Ithaca campus with responsibilities for research and teaching.

Research in McCune’s lab is evolutionary in focus, using methods of paleobiology, phylogenetics, genetics and morphology as necessary to answer two broad questions at the center of evolutionary biology: why are some groups so diverse and how do morphological novelties evolve? To explore these questions, McCune and her students work primarily on fishes. Recent and ongoing projects on diversification have focused on the ecological, morphological, and genotypic aspects of divergence between closely related species within a phylogenetic framework.

McCune received her A.B. in biology from Brown University in 1976. She conducted her graduate studies in biology at Yale University, earning her Ph.D. in 1982. Her postdoctoral work was performed at UC Berkley in 1982-83. She joined Cornell as an assistant professor in 1983. She served as chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from 2011 to 2017. She has also been the faculty curator of Ichthyology at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates since 1983.

Amy McCune's faculty page