AUBURN – The City of Auburn Police Division announced this morning that Marie Wooten, dean of Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics, was struck and killed by an automobile at the intersection of South College Street and South Donahue Drive.
According to the police report, Wooten, 53, of Auburn and Frankie A. Bell, 39, of Opelika were struck at approximately 5:45 a.m. as they crossed South College Street while jogging.
Bell was airlifted to Columbus, Ga., Regional Medical Center; her condition was not available at the time of this news release.
The accident is under investigation.
“This is a terrible tragedy for the Auburn family,” Auburn University President Jay Gogue said. “We express our condolences to Dean Wooten’s family, colleagues and students.”
Wooten began serving as dean Aug. 1 after working as associate dean for research from 2000 to 2010.
She joined the Auburn faculty in 1987 and served as the Sharnagel Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.
“We are devastated,” said Provost Mary Ellen Mazey. “Dean Wooten brought such outstanding passion, energy and leadership to the College of Sciences and Mathematics and the entire university. She was beloved by her students, and widely respected for work and research that will continue to improve lives far into the future. Our hearts and our prayers go out to her family.”
Under Wooten’s direction, external funding secured by the College of Sciences and Mathematics doubled over a 10-year period.
Her research interests included cellular and molecular developmental neurobiology and neurodegeneration. S
he recently discovered a genetic link between obesity and Alzheimer's disease, which could be the 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 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 of Science 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 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. She was a visiting scientist at institutions in both South Africa and Spain.