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  • Biological and Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Fish
  • Bacteria
  • Evolution
  • Microbial biology
This week, Benjamin Z. Houlton, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean, announced that Esther Angert, chair and professor of microbiology, will join the CALS leadership team as a senior associate dean, effective March 1.


Esther Angert
Esther Angert, chair and professor of microbiology, begins her role as one of CALS’ senior associate deans on March 1, 2021. Photo provided.

“CALS is in a unique position to help the world navigate global challenges, leveraging our commitment to purpose-driven science and impact for the 21st century, the solutions century,” Houlton said. “We are delighted to have Esther Angert join the CALS leadership team, bringing her knowledge and experiences to the senior associate dean position.”

Working closely with Senior Associate Dean Beth Ahner, Angert will help oversee CALS faculty, department affairs and sponsored research, as well as the academic aspects of facilities, financial planning and human resources.

Angert joined the CALS faculty in 1999, and she has been actively involved in numerous mentoring and faculty search committees. She spent several years serving on the CALS Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and she became the chair of the Department of Microbiology in 2019.

Her research focuses on the bacterium Epulopiscium spp. Large enough to be seen with the naked eye, these bacterial cells live in the intestines of tropical sturgeonfish and are thought to help with digestion. Angert’s lab is working to understand the molecular mechanisms that help these large cells reproduce and how this affects the relationship of the bacteria with their host. This research sheds light on the role that herbivores play in maintaining fragile and endangered coral reefs.

Angert will replace Amy McCune, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, who has served in the CALS leadership role since May 2017. Following the transition, McCune will return to full-time research — investigating the development, evolution and diversification of fishes.

During her tenure as senior associate dean, McCune supported the hiring of 27 tenure-track faculty, worked on 30 tenure and promotion cases, and oversaw the appointments of 15 new chairs and directors in the college.

Amy McCune
Amy McCune, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and outgoing senior associate dean. Photo by Allison Usavage.

Her efforts fortified numerous facilities projects, including the co-location of faculty in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, which is a shared unit with the College of Engineering. She reviewed renovations for faculty labs and teaching spaces in both Comstock Hall and the insectary on Tower Road and also assisted in the transition of the Uihlein Potato Farm in Lake Placid, New York, to the Uihlein Foundation.

McCune also helped launch the new Environment and Sustainability major, advising on enhancements to programming, policies and facilities that would better serve its student, staff and faculty participants.

“I would like to thank Amy for her incredible service to our college, faculty and administrative team, and for extending her service eight extra months to assist with the dean transition and our pandemic response,” Houlton said. “She has been a major asset to our college’s administration, and her impact has been wide-ranging.”


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