Tammy Bray enjoys both of the challenges that keep her schedule more than full.

Tammy Bray
Tammy Bray

“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.

Tammy Bray Web page

College of Health and Human Sciences

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Mary Jo Nye has been honored with a prestigious lifetime achievement award, but that doesn’t mean she’s done.

Mary Jo Nye
Mary Jo Nye

Mary Jo Nye has received the History of Science Society’s highest award, the 2006 Sarton Medal, for a lifetime of scholarly achievement.

“It’s somewhat daunting to receive a ‘lifetime achievement’ award, since I’m not ready to call it a day,” says Nye, Horning Professor of the Humanities and professor of history at OSU. “However, I know of Sarton medalists who have done even more research and writing after they received the award than before.”

In presenting the medal, Alan Rocke of Case Western Reserve University said “Mary Jo’s work has brilliantly illuminated important areas of the history of modern European and American physics and chemistry, with significant additional contributions to institutional and disciplinary history, philosophy of science, and the social and political relations of science. Her elegant writing is always a joy to read, her research as deep as it is broad and her historical arguments are judicious and convincing.”

Nye has written a number of books, including Molecular Reality: A Perspective on the Scientific Work of Jean Perrin (Elsevier, 1972), Science in the Provinces (University of California Press, 1986), and From Chemical Philosophy to Theoretical Chemistry: Dynamics of Matter and Dynamics of Disciplines, 1800-1950 (University of California Press, 1993). Her latest, Blackett: Physics, War, and Politics in the Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press), came out in 2004.

The History of Science Society is the world’s largest society dedicated to understanding science, technology, medicine, and their interactions with society in historical context. Over 3,000 individual and institutional members across the world support the Society’s mission to foster interest in the history of science and its social and cultural relations.

This isn’t the first time Nye, who came to OSU in 1994 after 25 years at the University of Oklahoma, has been honored with a lifetime achievement award. In 2000, she received the Dexter Award for Outstanding Achievement in the History of Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.

Mary Jo Nye Web page

History of Science Society Web

Previous Sarton Medal winners

Sarton Medal news release

William Oefelein
William Oefelein

William Oefelein takes his love of exploration to the International Space Station as the pilot of December’s Discovery mission.

Since it went into orbit in 1998, the International Space Station has been running on a temporary electrical system, basically a generator in outer space.

But with the installation of two new electricity-generating solar array panels in September, all of the pieces are in place for the permanent electrical system to take over. That leaves rewiring the entire station to hook it up to the new system.

That will be the task of astronauts on the Space Shuttle Discovery, and included among them is William Oefelein, who received his electrical engineering degree from OSU in 1988 before becoming a pilot in the U.S. Navy and later an astronaut.

Oefelein, called “Billy-O” by his fellow astronauts, will be piloting the spacecraft for the mission during which he and the seven-member crew will reconfigure the electrical system and add a truss segment that will accommodate more solar arrays.

“This will allow us to gain more power in order to do more science,” Oefelein says. “The mission will be full of challenges, but a lot of fun.”

As Discovery’s pilot, Oefelein will undock Discovery from the space station, coordinate the mission’s three spacewalks and use the shuttle’s robotic arm to inspect for any damage. He is making his first flight in space. “I’m really looking forward to wearing a lot of hats,” he says.

Becoming an astronaut wasn’t always a goal. “As a kid, I always liked math and science,” he says. “I never really wanted to become an astronaut; I just wanted to fly airplanes and explore.”

In the Navy, he became a test pilot, and the idea of becoming an astronaut grew on him. He applied and was selected by NASA in June 1998. He had been scheduled to make his first shuttle trip in 2003, but the Columbia disaster during reentry in February of that year put the program on hold. Now shuttles are flying again and Oefelein’s turn has come.

Oefelein is the second OSU alumnus to fly in the shuttle program, following Donald Petit, who was on the space station in 1998 and had to remain there for nearly six months when the program was shut down. Finally he returned safely to Earth aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Ron Adams, dean of engineering at Oregon State, says having two alumni as shuttle astronauts is an honor for the university. “I’m proud to be associated with an engineering program that counts among its ranks such stellar individuals as Bill Oefelein and Don Pettit. Their work inspires young people to pursue careers in engineering, which helps keep America on the cutting edge of innovation.”

NASA site for Discovery mission

NASA interview with William Oefelein

OSU College of Engineering

Don Petit space flight story

Jackie Balzer spends a lot of her day talking to students, listening to their concerns and finding ways to promote their success.

Jackie balzer is finding ways to promote student success
Jackie balzer is finding ways to promote student success

When you see Jackie Balzer just about anywhere on campus, you’ll probably see students chatting informally with her, clearly feeling comfortable in the company of the Dean of Student Life.

There isn’t a better illustration of the connection OSU students have with Balzer than this. She is there when they need her. She says it’s an important part of her job to help students when they’re having difficulties.

“I feel honored to work in an environment that is about preparing students to find their potential,” Balzer says. “OSU students have lives outside the classroom as well as in the classroom, and I want them to flourish wherever they are.”

She supports students’ intellectual, ethical, social, and leadership development and works to stimulate a dynamic and engaging student life. “I enjoy the opportunity to engage with students and help them meet their potential,” Balzer says.

“It really floats my boat when I go to commencement and see their success or when they call back after settling into a career and say how much OSU helped them,” she says.

Balzer’s commitment to student success was recognized earlier this year when she received the McKay-Wight award from the OSU chapter of Phi Delta Theta. The award is given annually to a faculty or staff member who makes a difference in the lives of students.

Balzer is well prepared for her job. Her undergraduate degree is in sociology, and she has a master of education degree in College Student Services Administration and a doctorate in Community College Leadership, both from OSU’s College of Education.

Larry Roper, vice provost for student affairs, says Balzer is ideal for the job. “I think she is wonderful,” Roper says. “Jackie loves this community and the students. It is definitely reflected in her work.”

Dean of Student Life Web site

College of Education Web site

J.C. Sanders worked with leading scientists to determine how to protect the planet from a possible future asteroid collision.

J.C. Sanders
J.C. Sanders

An asteroid more than a half-mile in diameter is on a collision course with the Earth. How do we avoid disaster?

J.C. Sanders, a June 2006 OSU University Honors College physics graduate from Roseburg, Ore., spent last summer on an internship with top scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California looking for a solution to that not-so-impossible scenario.

The answer may well be to use a nuclear device to deflect the object, slow it down or speed it up so it misses the Earth. Using computer models, J.C. worked with the scientists on such issues as when and where to detonate the bombs for maximum effect against different types of space objects.

J.C.’s work was so well received that he was invited to the Livermore lab for another internship this summer to work on alternative propulsion systems for interplanetary travel.

And, proving that an OSU education really is hands-on, J.C. also did an internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory working on a fusion research simulation project two years ago.

J.C. says being in the Honors College was a real plus in his OSU education. “You interact with professors in a different way than in a normal class. There’s more discussion and study of ideas in honors classes,” he says.
Next on J.C.’s agenda is graduate work in physics at the University of Texas in Austin.

University Honors College

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Web site

Jane Lubchenco says there is no longer any doubt that global warming threatens the planet, and it’s time to do something about it.

Jane Lubchenco
Jane Lubchenco

A vast majority of scientists agree that global warming caused by human-generated greenhouse gases is a serious threat to civilization and the Earth’s natural ecosystems.

A recent scientific study reports that many of the ecosystem services that support life on the planet are being degraded in a manner that could lead to significant harmful consequences over the next 50 years.

“What has become clear is that if society wants to avoid future disasters, it should do two things: prevent even greater disruption to the climate system and prepare for the climate changes already set in motion,” says Jane Lubchenco, Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and Distinguished Professor of Zoology at OSU, and an expert on issues related to global warming.

“The evidence is overwhelming that even simple changes can be a big help and have a huge cumulative impact,” Lubchenco says. “If every American switched just three light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, it would be the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road. If everyone switched to a car with five miles-per-gallon better mileage, that would be equal to taking another 150 million automobiles off the roads. Individual actions add up to big changes.”

Lubchenco says the oceans also are being critically affected by the changes. Events of the past year, including disrupted fisheries, torrential rains and catastrophic hurricanes, are consistent with what scientists expect as a result of global warming, Lubchenco says.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science recently honored Lubchenco with its Public Understanding of Science Award for her role in encouraging scientists to promote “an open dialogue on issues affecting all our lives.”

Lubchenco has been instrumental in the foundation of three major initiatives to increase science communication. They are:

  • The Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, begun at OSU in 1998 to train academic environmental scientists to become more effective communicators and leaders
  • COMPASS, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea, a collaborative effort to communicate marine conservation science to resource users and managers, policy makers and the media
  • PISCO, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, a four-university research, training, and outreach collaboration focused on the near-shore marine ecosystems of the Oregon, Washington and California coasts

“Earlier in my career I was like most researchers who just teach their students and publish their studies but don’t get involved much in the public arena,” Lubchenco said. “But I’ve come to realize that as scientists we have both an opportunity and an obligation to help more people understand and use science, which plays such a critical role in our lives.”

Jane Lubchenco home page

Lubchenco public understanding of science award

Lubchenco presentation to City Club of Portland (1 hour video)

International student Marlies Luepges wants a career in wilderness therapy, so she took it seriously when she had a chance to work in the field.

Marlies Lupges works with troubled teens through wilderness expeditions
Marlies Lupges works with troubled teens through wilderness expeditions

When Marlies Luepges volunteered for a wilderness therapy position last summer, she bicycled nearly 100 miles from her home in Bend to the firm’s Albany headquarters, including a trek over Santiam Pass.

The OSU-Cascades Campus junior, an Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Tourism major, says she bicycled to give her time to reflect before and after the interview “as I knew I would enter a whirlwind of emotions when re-entering a field that has become my main focus over the past three years.”

After the meeting, Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Expeditions accepted Luepges, an international student from Switzerland, for a 21-day wintertime expedition to Waldo Lake in the Cascades. She now has completed two treks with the firm, and is enjoying the experience she’s gaining.

The treks are intervention activities for 13- to 17-year-olds with a variety of problems, including mental health issues, depression, learning disabilities, emotional disorders and troubles with the law.

At Waldo Lake, 3-4 guides and 6-8 teens find a remote location where they camp in individual tents for three weeks. Much of the time is spent hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing.

At first the youngsters are distrustful and keep to themselves. “After a week out there, they start to feel supported and begin to express themselves,” Marlies says. “It becomes a nurturing environment. They know we’re as wet and cold as they are.” Parents “often are blown away” when they see the change the trek has made, she says.

Marlies wants to earn a master’s degree, probably with an emphasis in counseling, so she can be a counselor as well as a guide, perhaps in her own firm eventually.

And the bike ride over the Cascades? “It was much easier than I thought it would be.” Of course, she’d already bicycled over passes in Switzerland.

When it was time to return to Bend, she left early in the evening figuring she’d head east until she found a campground. She didn’t find any. “About 8:20, I started worrying. I figured I’d have to stop and ask someone if I could camp on their land.”

Then came a touch of serendipity. “I saw a Swiss flag on a house. It was a Swiss couple in their 70s,” she says. “They invited me to spend the night inside. It was a beautiful get-together for all. They’re now my adopted grandparents here.”

OSU-Cascades Campus home page

Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Tourism program

OSU International Programs Web site

Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Expeditions Web site

Warren Washington’s atmospheric computer models are important in the understanding of global climate change.

Warren Washington
Warren Washington

OSU alumnus Warren Washington was one of the developers of atmospheric computer models that now have become standard in the study of complex climate issues.

After graduating from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1958 and a master’s in meteorology two years later, Washington earned a Ph.D. from Penn State University. He joined the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., in 1963 and has spent his entire career with that organization.

His importance in the field has been recognized by President Clinton, who appointed him to the National Science Board, and by President Bush, who re-appointed him. He recently completed his second term as chair of that prestigious group, which makes recommendations to the president and Congress on national science policy.

One of OSU’s most distinguished African American alumni, Washington returns to campus as the university’s commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary doctorate on June 18.

He also received OSU’s E.B. Lemon Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996, and has been honored for scientific achievement by the American Meteorological Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Societe Meteorologique de France and several universities.

During his long career, he has published more than 100 professional papers and co-authored a book, An Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling, which has become a standard reference in the field.

Last year, he and a colleague published an article in the prestigious journal Science that analyzed climate data from around the world over the past 40 years and outlined the connection between human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, and global warming.

OSU Commencement Web site

Information about Warren Washington on Commencement site

National Center for Atmospheric Research Web site

You may not know Mike Rich by name, but chances are you’ve seen his work.

Mike Rich wrote the script for "Finding Forrester" and "The Rookie"
Mike Rich wrote the script for "Finding Forrester" and "The Rookie"

Mike Rich was working as a news reporter at a Portland radio station in the mid-1990s when he decided to turn his dream of writing a screenplay into reality.

Setting aside a couple of free hours each day, he wrote “Finding Forrester,” a story that delves into the relationship between an inner-city teen and a reclusive writer.

After unproductive attempts to contact agents, production companies and studios, Rich entered the play in the Nicholl Fellowship competition sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“The first letter I received said congratulations, you’re a quarter-finalist. That was validation. It put me in the top 220 of 4,500 entrants,” he says. “That’s where I thought it would end. Then came a letter saying I was a semi-finalist and then a finalist and finally one of five fellows.”

After that, interest developed quickly. Columbia purchased the script and Sean Connery agreed to play Forrester. At that point, Rich “thought they would just go off and make the movie.” He was wrong. Six rewrites later, it was shot.

Over the past eight years, the OSU College of Business alumnus has followed “Finding Forester” with “The Rookie,” “Radio” and “Miracle,” all successful movies.

“I always start with character. The audience needs to care about the people,” Rich says.

In “Miracle,” the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s historic upset of the Soviet Union, “you want to get the audience to the point where they don’t care that they know how it’s going to end. They want to see how it gets there.”

Look for more from Rich. “Manhunt,” an adaptation of a historical thriller about the search for John Wilkes Booth, is being filmed; “Invincible,” the story of Philadelphia Eagles fan Vince Papale, a bartender who tried out for the team as a kicker and made it, is set for release later this year; and “Nativity,” a story leading up to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, has been purchased by New Line Cinema.

Despite all this activity, Rich keeps his life in perspective. He lives in Beaverton, Ore., with his wife and three children. “My son plays high school football,” he says. “I catch every game I can. When it’s done, it’s done, and you don’t get another chance.”

Finding Forrester

The Rookie


Fred Kamke focuses on designing composite products that make more efficient use of timber resources.

Fred Kamke is designing effecient uses for timber
Fred Kamke is designing effecient uses for timber

Composite wood products have had a bad reputation over the years, being considered a low-cost means of using commercial waste or low-quality wood.

That image is changing, and Fred Kamke is helping make sure it continues to change.

“The old paradigm of growing trees for lumber or pulp is no longer the only option,” Kamke says. “Short-rotation woody crops, intensively grown on a relatively small land area, may be used to produce structural products with properties equal to or better than the highest-grade Douglas-fir lumber.”

Kamke, a leader in research on innovative new wood composite products and technology, is currently working on wood modifications that can be used in composites.

Oregon has about 20,000 acres of hybrid poplar that were planted for pulp uses. As a low-density wood the poplar isn’t useful for much else. “I want to be able to densify it to make useful products,” Kamke says. Using a home-made wood press, he is able to take a quarter-inch-thick piece of the poplar, apply steam, heat and pressure, and turn it into a hard wood about one-fourth as thick.

The process is called viscoelastic thermal compression (VTC) and the resulting wood has higher density, strength and stability than the original. Kamke believes it can be used as a composite with a piece of the original poplar sandwiched between two of the VTC pieces.

“I can see uses for it in building construction, and I think there could be applications for flooring materials because it has good hardness properties,” he says.

Hybrid poplar is a good choice because it grows fast, produces many trees in a small area, and is harvestable within five or 10 years.

Kamke has worked with composites his entire career, spending more than 20 years at Virginia Tech after receiving his doctorate from OSU in 1983.

He returned to OSU in 2005 to become the first holder of the JELD-WEN Chair in Wood-Based Science in OSU’s College of Forestry. Now he is in the process of helping make the university a world center in bio-based composite materials.

“I’ve always liked the idea of being able to get more out of the forest, of getting the products we need without relying on huge land masses for the resources,” he says.

Fred Kamke Web page

News release on Kamke’s OSU appointment

Oregon Wood Innovation Center

Description of VTC