Instructor Spotlight – Amy Angert

Photo by: Elaine Simons Lane

Amy Angert is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Botany and Zoology. She has an undergraduate degree in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Plant Biology from Michigan State University. Prior to coming to UBC, she completed a Postdoc in Ecology and Evolution at the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on the evolutionary ecology of species’ geographic distributions.

Amy has taught the following courses at UBC: Biology 406 (Plant Ecology), Biology 306 (Advanced Ecology), Biology 548m (Population Biology), and Botany 501.

What do you enjoy most about being an Instructor?

I love when I can help open student’s eyes to aspects of the natural world that are unfamiliar to them, and especially when I can convince them that plants are way more interesting than they might have first thought. I find that a lot of students first see plants as food or forage or habitat, but don’t necessarily think of them as focal organisms in their own right, so I love to flip that around and challenge everyone to see the world from a plant’s perspective, where the plant is central and animals are “just” herbivores or pollinators.

I also am thrilled when students become comfortable enough in the classroom to really dig in and engage with each other and the material – especially when small group activities get really loud because everyone is actively wrestling with concepts, challenging assumptions, or discussing their interpretations.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I like to incorporate a mix of activities and I try to foster a friendly and casual environment so that students feel comfortable asking questions of me and each other.

What is a memorable anecdote from your own undergraduate experience?

I always knew I liked scientific research and being outdoors, but somehow I never thought the two could be combined into one career. In my mind scientific research involved wearing a white coat and goggles at a bench, and outdoor activities were the stuff of hobbies. But in my second year I took a course on evolution in which the prof incorporated lots of current examples from his own lab group, with pictures (in a slide carousel… this was a while ago!) of them out and about collecting data in the Galapagos and the Bahamas. And I left class one day completely transformed – it literally changed my worldview and the course of my life to know that I could do scientific research, even manipulative experiments, out in natural systems.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m an avid trail runner, though a knee injury has me sidelined at the moment. And I try to get my young kids outdoors exploring the natural world as often as possible.

What is a fun fact about you that people may not know?

I started off my research career studying lizards. I spent 3 summers tromping around the Ozarks trying to sneak up on them and catch them with dental floss tied to a fishing pole. Plants are way easier!

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