Roanoke College

Roanoke College alumna named first female president of prestigious professional and academic society

  • Roanoke College alumna named first female president of prestigious professional and academic society

  • 03/21/13
  • Salem, Va. - Dr. Bettie Sue Masters, a 1959 Roanoke College graduate, soon will become the first woman to lead a prestigious, Texas-based professional and academic society.

    Masters was chosen as the 2013 president-elect for the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST). She is vice president currently, and she will assume the full presidency in January 2014.  She also is the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor in Chemistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

    The academy was created to support the next generation of scientists and to acknowledge and bring together "the state's top scientific, academic and corporate minds to further position Texas as a national research leader," according to the academy's website.

    Its membership includes more than 250 members of the National Academies, which are the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

    Masters' affiliation with the academy dates back to 2004, when it was founded. She has been secretary and served as chairperson of the Edith and Peter O'Donnell Awards Committee, which annually gives four young investigators $25,000 for their achievements in medicine, engineering or science. 

    Masters' involvement with the academy is not the first time that she has served as a board member. She was elected by more than 12,000 people as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2002.

    Masters has received other professional honors, outside of academic societies.

    She began her career working with the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, after receiving a PhD. in biochemistry from Duke University in 1962. She went on to teach in the biochemistry department at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas for nearly 15 years.

    Masters also was the first chairwoman of the biochemistry department at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1982, before she began her 23-year career at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

    Her dedication to the medical and science fields is well-known.

    In May 2005, Masters joined an elite group of Nobel Laureates and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as the recipient of the Doctorate Honoris Causa from Charles University in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

    Roanoke College also recognized Master's contributions to the profession by giving her an Honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1983. Ten years prior to that honor, she received the Roanoke College medal for her service to the community and her profession.

    While at Roanoke, Masters graduated as salutatorian with a degree in chemistry. She earned the Annie Terrell Bushnell Prize, which recognizes a female student with high qualities of leadership and loyalty to the College and to fellow students. 

    "I originally planned to go into medicine, but it was actually one of my professors at Roanoke College who encouraged me to go into research," Masters said. "I was very lucky to have the kind of guidance I had at Roanoke." 

    Roanoke College, a classic liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a beautiful, undergraduate setting. Roanoke is one of just seven percent of colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review lists Roanoke as the 18th most beautiful campus in its "Best 376 Colleges" 2012 guidebook.

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