Marie W. Wooten Distinguished Professorship created in memory of former College of Sciences and Mathematics dean

Published: November 15, 2016
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Auburn University Department of Biological Sciences Professor Michael Wooten recently established a professorship to honor his late wife, Marie Wooten, a longtime Auburn faculty member and former dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

Created through a $500,000 estate gift, the Marie W. Wooten Distinguished Professorship will be awarded to a female professor who will strengthen and enhance the program of neurobiology, and, through her quality of work, will serve as a positive role model for her colleagues and students.

“Marie felt that the work she inspired in neurobiology would be her contribution to the world,” said Michael Wooten. “She truly loved every member of her lab group and her life revolved around the science research they conducted together. This professorship is meant to carry her legacy to future generations, and to honor her and all those that were part of her research family.”

Marie Wooten served as dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics from August 2010 until her untimely death in November 2010. Prior to her time as dean, she served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, then as the college’s associate dean for research for 10 years. She joined the Auburn faculty in 1987 and served as the Sharnagel Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Under Marie Wooten’s direction, external funding secured by the College of Sciences and Mathematics doubled during a 10-year period. Her research interests included cellular and molecular developmental neurobiology and neurodegeneration. Her work included discovering a genetic link between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease, a first step in curing the memory-debilitating illness that affects millions of individuals, especially the elderly.

Widely recognized for her contributions as a mentor, scientist, scholar and academic administrator, Wooten was committed to student training and outreach. She was cofounder of the Institute for Women in Sciences and Engineering and provided leadership in developing numerous education initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines. Wooten also was a member of the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program, which focuses on enhancing diversity in STEM fields.

Additionally, Wooten held grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association, NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She earned two patents and commercialized one technology.

Wooten earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Memphis and her doctorate in cell and molecular biosciences from Texas Women’s University. She did postdoctoral training at the Medical College of Georgia and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. She was a visiting scientist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center and at institutions in both South Africa and Spain.

Following Wooten’s death, her friends, colleagues and students established the Marie W. Wooten Endowed Scholarship. Since its creation, 19 students in the College of Sciences and Mathematics have received financial support.

For more information, contact Sherri Rowton at rowtosj@auburn.edu or 334-844-1235.