Tammy Bray enjoys both of the challenges that keep her schedule more than full.
“I enjoy problem solving, building, moving forward and finding new answers, and those go with both of my jobs,” says Tammy Bray, dean of OSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences and a renowned researcher in health-related fields.
One of her areas of interest is exploring how genes and environment relate to human disease. “You can’t do much about the genes you inherited, but you can affect your health with what you eat and how active you are,” she says. “Many foods have antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that help us shape our environment.”
Cancer and diabetes, for example, “are influenced by diet tremendously. You can reduce the risk by 70 to 90 percent by eating right.”
She serves on the nutrition and physiology external advisory council for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, funded by NASA. The group is working to solve many of the human issues related to a long space flight such as a trip to Mars.
Back at OSU, she tries to ensure that students in her college have an opportunity to learn the excitement of research. “We have a great student research program,” she says. “Undergraduates in the college develop a good relationship with faculty and learn problem solving skills by working on research projects.”
Being the dean of a college with strong educational, research and service programs, takes up a lot of her time, but Bray says she loves the challenge it adds to her academic life. “Oregon State excited me when I came here,” she says. “We have great faculty, great people and a great environment. We have people who are on the same platform, working toward the same thing. That’s not true everywhere.”
And in her “spare” time? Every morning she takes a walk around the campus about 5:30, and when she’s at home, nature provides her with pleasure. “I like being able to spend time in my garden. It gives me great excitement to just wander around or to pick vegetables and make something from them. It’s like somebody gave me a gift, and I feel blessed.”
And, of course, the exercise and good nutrition fit in well with her research findings.