Amy McCune, a renowned evolutionary biologist who investigates the history of life through the study of fishes, has been appointed senior associate dean at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). She begins her term May 1.
A professor of ecology and evolutionary biology who has taught at Cornell for more than 30 years, McCune joins Beth Ahner as senior associate deans at the college. Max Pfeffer, current senior associate dean, will move into the newly created role of executive dean.
Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS, praised McCune as a valuable addition to the college’s leadership team.
“Amy brings tremendous drive and intellectual vitality to everything she does,” said Boor. “I am pleased to have her join a strong core of leaders dedicated to guiding the college in the years ahead.”
As part of her portfolio, McCune will oversee nine academic departments and nine centers/programs.
“I am excited to be working with the great team in the CALS Dean’s office to foster innovation and excellence during this time of faculty renewal,” said McCune.
As a researcher dedicated to the study of evolution, McCune specializes in the study of novel traits in both fossil and living fishes. Her research projects have explored crucial questions into the evolution of important features in fishes, including jaw morphology in various species and the development and evolution of pigmentation in zebrafish. A particular focus has been on how ancestral lungs have evolved to form the swim bladders some fish use to remain buoyant and as an organ for communication.
For the past six years, McCune has served as chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. During her career she has taken on additional leadership roles, including service on both the CALS strategic planning and restructuring committees as well as the university-wide committees Educational Policy and Management; Finance and Policy; the General Committee of the Graduate School; and University Strategic Planning.
She is the faculty curator of fishes at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, an institution dedicated to the study of animals with a spinal column.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Brown University and her Ph.D. from Yale University. She joined the Cornell faculty in 1983.