School of Computing’s first female professor

Pictured: Becky Beason
(Courtesy of Becky Beason)
Pictured: Becky Beason (Courtesy of Becky Beason)

Written by: Génesis Ventura

Becky Beason, a current Southern Adventist University employee, is the first female professor in the School of Computing. She is an adjunct professor and an alum of Southern. 

In addition to being an adjunct, she currently works at DarkOwl, a dark web search engine that teaches organizations cyber security defenses using darknet intelligence. 

 “[DarkOwl] collects data, and then they sell that data to various different organizations,” Beason explained. “I’m a data scientist there, so I look at the data on the dark web and try to figure out what it looks like. I build models that try to figure out what people are talking about.”

Beason said that being a woman in a male-dominated career has been an asset. 

“I would say, in general, in the workforce, I think it has given me a lot of advantages,” she said. “Because it’s better; the more diversity that you have in a team, the more innovation you have.”

Beason said she enjoys her work at DarkOwl and finds it very rewarding. She added that the company is currently making changes to promote diverse staffing. 

“What’s really amazing is that they will make an effort to hire a diverse number of individuals,” she said. “So there are about 40% women, which is just a lot different than anything I’m used to.” 

In regards to her job at Southern, she said the most fulfilling part is being a mentor. 

“In grad school, I had maybe one female professor who taught me, so you don’t have people to look up to,” Beason said while explaining why being a mentor on top of being a professor is important to her.

Beason graduated from Southern in 2002 with degrees in computer science and math.  Five years later, she graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology with her master’s and PhD in information retrieval. She worked on cyber security research projects lasting between six and 18 months for  BAE Systems, an international defense, aerospace and security company based in the United Kingdom. However, she worked in the company’s North American division. For four years, she worked at an office in Arlington, Virginia, followed by eight years working remotely in Ooltewah. She began working at Southern in 2012. 

Beason is not only a teacher and data scientist but also a mother. She has two kids, ages 9 and 10.

 “Work-life balance is something I’ve always struggled with,” she said. “And I think anybody struggles with it, especially women because they want to be with their kids. But I also like that my career was always very important to me.”

Several of Beason’s students described her as a good, relatable professor. 

Beason’s  advice for students pursuing a career in computer science is to recognize the importance of analytic thinking and problem solving.  

“Find an area that you feel really passionate about and just pursue it,” she added. “Become an expert in it.”

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