Faculty Spotlight: Beatrix Büdy
March 27, 2012
By Sean McEntee ('14)
Beatrix Büdy, professor in the Department of Science and Mathematics,
said the decision that led her to teach at Columbia was based on a gut
After receiving her doctorate in clinical-bioanalytical chemistry from
the Cleveland Clinic at Cleveland State University Joint Program in
2003, Büdy interviewed for a teaching position at a Catholic university
in Chicago. She was required to instruct a class as part of the
interview, and through this experience, she said she discovered where
"That was the moment I realized I was called to teach," Büdy said. "I
just had to find a place where I could teach in a very free way."
After teaching for a couple of years, Büdy said she wanted more freedom
academically and to teach to a smaller group of students in a more
creative way. In 2005, she said she decided to check if Columbia had a
biochemistry position, just for fun, and it just so happened that it
In fall 2006, Büdy became a professor at Columbia.
"This is my dream job, I made the right decision," she said. "When I go
in front of the class it's like the biggest joy every time I teach. I
don't know how to describe it. I'm a very happy person because of that."
Büdy isn't a traditional science teacher. She said she teaches
biochemistry to students who have had zero experience with chemistry or
biochemistry, and added that her students have high-level skills not
traditionally exploited by science teachers, such as visual and audio
"Columbia students have so many other skills," Büdy said. "They have a
lot of courage to be themselves and all of these qualities that could
make them 'the thing' to use to teach them."
Making students "the thing" was exactly what she did. Büdy said she
collaborated with the Theatre department and had students create their
own characters based on core learning objectives for the course, and
near the end of the class, the students put on a play to tie the lessons
"I learned so much to be a better teacher by presenting the material through performance," Büdy said.
Although the work isn't watered down and can be difficult, Büdy said
students here get to explore biochemistry in a unique, artistic way.
In fact, it was a creative approach that helped Büdy learn the English language.
Originating from Transylvania, Romania, Büdy didn't know much English
when she came to the United States in 1998 to attend graduate school.
Rather than learn from tapes or books, she said she wrote a novel in
English to learn the language.
She admits the novel wasn't great, but said it helped her uncover
another side to herself: a writing side. Büdy is currently working on a
second novel and hopes to have it published.