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A Winning Trifecta

Dr. Bonnie Amos has actually chosen Angelo State three times.

The first time was to earn her bachelor’s degree in 1973. The second was to earn her master’s degree in 1976. The third was to return as head of the Biology Department in 1987 after completing her doctorate at the University of Oklahoma and teaching six years at Baylor University.

  • Bonnie Amos
    Bonnie Amos

“I really enjoyed teaching at Baylor,” Amos said. “But when the position opened up at ASU, I felt like I was coming home. I don’t think I would’ve left Baylor for anywhere except ASU.”

A West Texas native, Amos had both personal and professional reasons to choose ASU that third time, including being closer to family and to her primary botany research venues, the Chihuahuan Desert and Big Bend National Park.

“But there was more than just that,” Amos said. “As an undergraduate, there were ASU professors who encouraged me to be a better student and helped me believe I was capable of doing so. I felt like I had a debt to pay back. In part, I went on to get a master’s degree and a Ph.D. because of the interest those faculty members had taken in me.”

“I also think there are many ASU students,” she added, “in regard to life situations and being first-generation college students, who may have more of a need than those at larger schools. The teacher may make more of a difference in their lives.”

After 13 years as department head, Amos stepped down to focus solely on teaching and research. That dedication to her students and her various projects has led to numerous awards, including a 2008 ASU Teaching Excellence Award, 2009 ASU Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award and 2012 Gary and Pat Rodgers Distinguished Faculty Award. In 2009, the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation named Amos a Piper Professor, one of the highest statewide honors for higher education, and she received the Texas Plant Conservation Award from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Also curator of the Herbarium in the Angelo State Natural History Collections, Amos is part of a team in the final year of a three-year grant project funded by the National Science Foundation to modernize and digitize the collections’ more than 125,000 specimens of plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and frozen tissues.

“It’s really exciting because we can now ask questions about our collections that we never could before,” Amos said. “I can’t wait for everything to be done so we can answer some of those questions. Looking forward to that makes me put off even thinking about retirement.”

Also helping stave off such thoughts are her ongoing research efforts. She is currently working with multiple undergraduate and graduate students on projects dealing with rare species of cacti and other plants in West Texas and Big Bend National Park. That third time she chose ASU has certainly benefitted all involved.

“I have wonderful colleagues,” Amos said. “I have great respect for the ASU faculty. Also, ASU offers many opportunities for students. I think ASU does an outstanding job at providing what is needed for students to obtain an excellent education.”

“I have a high regard for ASU because I know the difference it made in my life,” she continued. “I’ve also seen student success, and there isn’t any better reward for a teacher than seeing students succeed.”

  • Tom Nurre

    Tom Nurre

    Tom Nurre is a news and information specialist at Angelo State University. 
    E-mail Tom at tom.nurre@angelo.edu.