COSAM News Articles 2024 03 Alumni Spotlight: Beth Beason-Abmayr receives first endowed chair for teaching at Rice University

Alumni Spotlight: Beth Beason-Abmayr receives first endowed chair for teaching at Rice University

Published: 03/12/2024

By: Maria Gebhardt

Beth Beason-Abmayr ’90, an Auburn alumna with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, has been selected as the inaugural Kathleen and Randall Matthews Chair in Biosciences at Rice University. She has taught at Rice for 26 years. 

“I am tremendously excited to be the first and only endowed chair at Rice University for teaching,” said Beason-Abmayr.

This honor is made possible through Kathy Matthews, Rice University’s Stewart Memorial Professor Emeritus of Biosciences.

“Kathy and her husband Randy established this endowed chair specifically for teaching and service,” she said.

And at Auburn University, Beason-Abmayr found incredible inspiration to teach from Dr. Larry Wit.

“Dr. Wit is a huge reason I am where I am today,” she said.

An emeritus professor, Dr. Wit is known throughout campus for his love of science and teaching.

“As an undergraduate student, I majored in microbiology,” she added. “Then, I took a course with Dr. Wit and his teaching style truly inspired me.”

She then took a position working to help others in his course.

“Dr. Wit then asked me to be a lab teaching assistant,” she said. “I was the only undergraduate teaching assistant for the course with all graduate students, then more undergraduate students were added.”

Beason-Abmayr earned her doctorate degree from the University of Alabama Birmingham focusing on physiology and biophysics. She then completed a postdoctoral researcher position at Vanderbilt University.

“Dr. Wit inspired me to teach and gave me a relentless passion for physiology,” she said. “It guided me to earn my PhD and dedicate my career to teaching others.” 

Her advice to COSAM students.

“Be open to new paths and opportunities,” said Beason-Abmayr. “Today, there is so much pressure for students to have their whole life mapped out before they even graduate.”

She took a course that helped her navigate her future and drives her to make a difference in the classroom.

“Take courses that seem interesting and be willing to explore different areas that might spark a lifelong passion in you.”

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