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

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

Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson is taking his master of public policy degree to Washington, D.C., as a Fellow for the Congressional Black Caucus.

Alex Johnson is spending the next nine months in the nation’s capital as one of seven Congressional Fellows for the Congressional Black Caucus. He sees it as an opportunity to get more experience in his areas of interest. And it may even be training for possible future political involvement.

“I expect to look at environmental and governmental reform issues,” says Alex, who will be working with the office of Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida. “This should synthesize my interest in public policy and my interest in the environment.”

Alex, who received his bachelor’s degree in natural resources from OSU in 2004 and his master’s this past June, started his college career looking for ways to involve people of color in environmental issues. “Later I became interested in access issues and got involved in student government,” he says.

That led to a strong interest in politics, “and I became really excited about opportunities in graduate school.” He looked around at other schools but decided to stay at OSU because he wanted to see some of the issues he had been involved in through to completion.

“I looked at the master of public policy program, and I’m glad I did it,” he says. The program opened doors to a number of opportunities, including a trip to Bulgaria for a research project on environmental science and getting his first journal article published, with Brent Steel, director of the MPP program.

Because of his activism and his involvement with MPP and OSU’s Community and Diversity Office, Alex was asked by Corvallis City Council members to review the city charter with an eye toward diversity and inclusion, a process that involved numerous meetings and public discussions and resulted in a measure that will be on the November ballot.

As he thinks about his future, Alex acknowledges that there may be opportunities for him in the capital, “but I’m hoping to make it back out to the Northwest.” And then? “I might even run for office eventually.”

Congressional Black Caucus Web site

Master of Public Policy program Web site

Office of Community and Diversity

Chrissy Lamun has completed her all-American gymnastics career. Now she’s preparing for a career as an orthodontist.

Chrissy Lamun, an all-American gymnast, is now pursuing a career in dentistry
Chrissy Lamun, an all-American gymnast, is now pursuing a career in dentistry

Chrissy Lamun loves to make people smile. She does it with her vivacious enthusiasm. She does it with athletic performance that earned her all-American honors as an OSU gymnast this past season.

And the recent graduate from Reno, Nev., hopes to do it in the future as an orthodontist.

“When I was little, I was obsessed with braces,” she says. “I couldn’t wait to get them. I made retainers out of paper clips and headgear out of wire. When my mom saw the paper clips, she said get them out of your mouth, they’re dirty.”

Yet, Chrissy didn’t think of going into the dental field until a high school friend suggested it because of her obsession. “And I was thinking, ‘it’s perfect,’” she says.“I want to help people have a beautiful smile.”

When she started looking for schools with good predental programs, she says OSU was an easy choice. “It’s been a wonderful experience,“ Chrissy says, “and I love Corvallis. The community is so supportive.”

And she found time to give back to the community, participating in the Relay for Life the last two years and talking to children in elementary schools.

Chrissy received her degree in general science, with a pre-dental emphasis, and she minored in business administration.

This year she plans to help coach the OSU gymnastics team while gaining experience observing dentists at work to help prepare her for dental school. Students normally do their observation during the school year, but because of the time demands of gymnastics, Chrissy decided to wait until she finished.

College of Science academic programs

College of Business Web site
OSU gymnastics team Web site

Mas Subramanian is the first Signature Faculty Fellow in the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI).

Mas Subramanian
Mas Subramanian

With the naming of Mas Subramanian to faculty positions at OSU and ONAMI, the university and the statewide collaborative program will be among the world leaders in materials chemistry.

Subramanian is the new Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science at OSU, as well as a fellow in ONAMI, a major collaborative effort among OSU, other Oregon universities, agencies and private industry.

“Dr. Subramanian recognized the quality, opportunities and excitement surrounding the materials research and education programs at OSU,” said Douglas Keszler, chair of the university’s chemistry department. “We believe his enormous scientific talents and high energy, visionary leadership will accelerate very powerful ONAMI collaborations for the benefit of all Oregonians.”

And David C. Johnson, a chemistry professor at the University of Oregon and an ONAMI leader, agrees, saying Subramanian’s move to the state could help “make Oregon the best place in the world to study materials chemistry.”

An expert in such fields as high-temperature superconductivity, thermoelectrics, magnetoresistive materials and solid state, fast ion conductors, Subramanian is a world leader in the discovery and development of new materials.

A native of India, Subramanian was a senior scientist DuPont Central Research and Development prior to his appointment to the Oregon positions. He has published more than 225 papers in professional journals, and his work has yielded 51 patents that are in place or pending.

ONAMI is putting nanotechnology to work in a variety of ways in institutions throughout Oregon. At OSU, ONAMI areas of development include:

  • Transparent electronics that can be printed on glass and plastics
  • Tiny microreactors capable of super-fast portable biodiesel production
  • Lightweight cooling units for use by soldiers and hazmat workers in high heat conditions
  • Automobile air conditioning systems that use waste engine heat
  • Blood filters that are leading to portable kidney dialysis machines

OSU news release announcing Subramanian’s hiring

ONAMI Web site home page


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

Kurt Peters has fostered educational opportunities for Native Americans and established close ties between OSU and Oregon’s Native American communities.

Kurt Peters helped create the Department of Ethnic Studies at Oregon State
Kurt Peters helped create the Department of Ethnic Studies at Oregon State

Kurt Peters is the son of a Blackfoot-German father and a Pohatan-Scottish-Irish mother. He grew up in Oklahoma among Sac, Fox, Pawnee and Otoe communities.

Then he spent 22 years as a financial planner for a national investment company. Eventually though, he found himself longing for a return to his roots.

So he earned a doctorate and decided to find an academic career that involved working with Native American communities.

About that time, Oregon State was creating its Department of Ethnic Studies, and in 1996 Peters became one of the first two faculty members in the department.

When Peters arrived, OSU had regular contact with only one or two of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon. Today, the university has educational, cultural, and economic ties with all of them.

Peters has been involved in establishing the Native American Collaborative Institute, which provides a focal point for building tribal relationships, and is active in a proposed Virtual Tribal College that will facilitate OSU attendance by Oregon Native Americans through the Extended Campus program.

Peters has been chosen as a member of the College of Liberal Arts Master Teachers program, which is designed to use experienced and talented faculty to teach first-year discovery courses. He also is active in teaching ethnic studies courses and conducts research on the 20th century Native American experience and Native American labor.

He teaches courses for and with tribes and has taken his ethnic studies classes to tribal communities.

“A lot of the students have never been to a tribal community, and what they learn is that Native American people have the same interests, hopes, and aspirations of any other community — a good clean place to live, a healthy environment, a relevant education and financial security,” he says.

“The only difference is that those desires are tempered by cultural matters that have been molded by a history and culture that are a little different than the one with which most students are familiar.”

Kurt Peters Ethnic Studies page

Native American Collaborative Institute website

Ethnic Studies home page

Football players Mike Hass and Alexis Serna have been honored as the best players in the country at their positions.

Oregon State University wide receiver Mike Hass and placekicker Alexis Serna have been honored as the best players in the country at their positions.

Walk-ons Mike Hass and Aleixis Serna were honored recently
Walk-ons Mike Hass and Aleixis Serna were honored recently

Both players, who started as walk-ons (non-scholarship players) at OSU, received their awards at the College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 8, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Hass, a senior majoring in civil engineering, won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver, beating out USC’s Dwayne Jarrett and Notre Dame’s Jeff Samardzija.

Hass, who was also named to the Walter Camp All-America team that same day, was the nation’s leading receiver this season with an average of 139.3 yards a game, despite being sometimes double- and triple-teamed. He set a Pacific-10 Conference record with 1,532 receiving yards this season and owns the conference mark for yards in a single game (293 yards at Boise State in 2004).

A former star at Jesuit High School in Portland, Hass is OSU’s all-time leading receiver and ranks second all-time in the Pac-10 with 3,924 yards. He holds OSU records for career receptions (220) and single-season receptions (90) and shares the touchdown catches record of 20 with James Newson.

Hass is the only receiver in Pac-10 history with three 1,000-yard seasons.

Serna, a sophomore majoring in history, received the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s best placekicker. Serna was selected over Mason Crosby of Colorado and Jad Dean of Clemson.

Serna made 23 of 28 field goals this season and connected on all of his 32 extra-point attempts. He has made 61 consecutive extra points going back to the 2004 season. Serna is the active NCAA career percentage leader at 83.3. He tied the Pac-10 Conference record with six field goals on six attempts in an 18-10 victory over the University of Washington in November.

He was recently named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America Team.

OSU is leading an international consortium seeking to help people in sub-Saharan Africa improve their lives.

McNamara is the administrative project director for this program
McNamara is the administrative project director for this program

The problems are significant but so are the rewards as Oregon State University leads an American and African coalition in an effort to improve the lives of rural people in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Rural Livelihoods Consortium has received $2.35 million from the United States Agency for International Development to find ways to revitalize the southern African research network while working to improve and diversify rural livelihoods, beginning in the Chinyanja Triangle regions of Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.

“It’s a daunting challenge,” says Marion McNamara, administrative project director, “because they have a lack of infrastructure such as roads and communications, the schools are poorly funded and unreachable for some people, and the horrible impact of HIV/AIDS affects the productive ability of the family and the community.”

The consortium is targeting small farmers who are ready to move from subsistence to small-scale commercial agriculture, along with vulnerable households, including those headed by females and those affected by HIV/AIDS.

Because of the diverse issues involved, the consortium relies on multidisciplinary teams to develop interventions that will improve the quality of life. Other U.S. partners in the effort are Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, Tennessee State University, and Washington State University.

The universities are working with field-based partners in Africa to improve the profitability of farming through such methods as low-input irrigation systems, improved forage for dairy cows and technologies to add value to raw products.

“As with any development project, you want to work yourself out of a job,” McNamara says. “If we’re really successful, the people will have enough food to eat, be able to educate their children, and envision a satisfying future for themselves.”

OSU International programs website

Maret Traber is trying to set the record straight about the role of vitamin E.

Maret Traber is setting the record straight on Vitamin E
Maret Traber is setting the record straight on Vitamin E

You’ve undoubtedly heard the claims.

“Everyone needs a vitamin E supplement.”

“Vitamin E has no value in protecting people from disease.”

“We get all the vitamin E we need in a normal diet.”

Maret Traber, a scientist in OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute who has studied the vitamin most of her professional life, says research so far just scratches the surface about how the body absorbs vitamin E, what forms should be used, how they interact with the immune system and what role they play in cancer prevention.

“A lot of people out there make all kinds of wild claims about the value of vitamin E without having a solid scientific basis for what they say,” according to Traber.

With more than 170 scientific publications, including over 100 peer-reviewed articles, Traber is one of the world’s leading experts on vitamin E.

She stepped into the middle of the controversy when she disputed the recent claims of a 10-year study of women over 45 who took vitamin E. The scientists conducting the study reported that vitamin E was ineffective at preventing heart disease.

“I was so surprised when I read the study that they didn’t emphasize what I considered the most exciting finding in 10 years of vitamin E research,” Traber says. “The study shows that women over 65 years old had a 24 percent reduction in major coronary vascular events, a 34 percent reduction in heart attacks, and a 49 percent reduction in cardiovascular deaths.”

So while some say vitamin E could be dangerous and others claim it’s a panacea, Traber says more work needs to be done.

“We owe it to the public to do good research on these issues, find out the truth and then be honest about it. The potential value of vitamin E is just so important, we have to find out what the facts are.”

Maret Traber’s Linus Pauling Institute web page

Maret Traber’s College of Health and Human Sciences page

Results of Traber’s study of vitamin E and smoking

Linus Pauling Institute website