TAMUTimes: Texas benefits from TVMDL director’s Auburn education

From the Oct. 25 issue of Texas A&M University’s daily e-newsletter, the TAMUTimes:

Director Dr. Tammy Beckham (left) conducts a recent tour of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in College Station for Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp (far right). Also from left are Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor for agriculture and life sciences; Stacy Morris, TVMDL chief of staff; Joe Cox, assistant vice chancellor for external relations; and Jordan Brod, TVMDL operations manager.In addition to directing TVMDL, Dr. Beckham serves as director of the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence. (Photo by Jean Wulfson)

In the mid-1990s, Tammy Beckham was a professional, classical musician. As a French horn player and a pianist, she performed with a symphonic orchestra. But Auburn University presented her with an opportunity to pursue another dream.

“I’ve always had a passion for animals and wanted to become a veterinarian for as long as I can remember,” she says. “Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine offered a dual-degree program that allowed me to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical science while simultaneously earning my doctorate in veterinary medicine.  I was the second student to enter and complete that program. This program opened doors and provided opportunities which I could not have imagined.”

Today, Dr. Beckham directs the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, one of the busiest veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the United States. She also directs the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center), a Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence devoted to protecting the nation from animal diseases that threaten agriculture, public health and the U.S. food supply.

“Auburn’s veterinary school provided me with a well-rounded education and hands-on experience that allowed me to pursue my dreams,” Dr. Beckham says. “While there I had the opportunity to work in animal disease research and further my interest in infectious diseases and veterinary diagnostics. By the time I completed my course work, I had acquired the skill set that allowed me to pursue my dream of working in veterinary diagnostics and high-consequence disease research.”

After graduating magna cum laude, Dr. Beckham joined the military as an Army captain where she was stationed at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) which performs research for protection of the war fighter. There she helped to improve technologies for detecting biological threat agents, such as Ebola and Marburg viruses.

Later, she served as director of the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, a part of the USDA’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York.

Today, Dr. Beckham is recognized as an international expert in the diagnosis of transboundary, emerging and zoonotic animal diseases.

“Opportunities that I have today and my successes are based on the foundation and education that I received at Auburn University,” Dr. Beckham says. “The opportunity to attend Auburn University was, for me, a life-altering event that I will always be grateful for.”

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