We are pleased to name Dr. Tammy Bray as the 2023 Distinguished Graduate in Science, Education, and Technology. She is a professor in Nutrition and Global Health and Dean Emeritus of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences (2002 to 2016) at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
A native of Taiwan, Bray graduated from Fu Jen University in Taipei, Taiwan with a BS in nutrition. She came to WSU to continue her education and earned a MS degree in human nutrition in 1971. Bray enjoys learning about how things work and discovered a passion for nutritional biochemistry during her MS degree program. While taking a class in energy metabolism, taught by Dr. James Carlson in the Department of Animal Sciences, she was enthralled and immediately approached him and asked if there were any opportunities to get involved in his lab. He said he needed someone to wash lab dishes and Bray jumped at the chance even though she was still working toward her master’s degree. In addition to keeping the lab clean and tidy, Bray was also responsible for helping with lab work such as column chromatography by putting new tubes on a collection device at the end of each day. One evening she forgot to add tubes and did not realize her mistake until after bedtime. She was horrified, put a robe on over her pajamas, and ran to the lab where she found there were only three empty tubes left. She arrived in time to prevent a disaster! As she was adding fresh tubes to the device, Dr. Carlson walked in the lab. He was working late on a grant. Bray was so embarrassed – she was wearing a bathrobe! He did not comment on her garb but quietly recognized her dedication several days later with a pay raise and her own research project. She later joined his research team as a PhD student, earning her degree in 1974, and later as a postdoctoral researcher. Her research in Dr. Carlson’s lab provided foundational data in understanding the role of 3methylindole in lung disease in livestock.
Career and Leadership
Bray moved to Ontario, Canada, in 1978 and moved up the ranks in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph, eventually serving as interim chair of the department and then interim vice president of academic affairs from 1991 to 1995. She later moved her research program to The Ohio State University, where she stayed from 1995 to 2002 as department chair and associate dean for research before moving back to the Pacific Northwest as the Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.
Under Bray’s leadership, the college was transformed significantly. It achieved national accreditation in 2014, becoming Oregon’s first accredited college of public health and renaming it to the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. In addition, she led the effort to raise more than $40 million from donors to construct the building of the Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, established the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition, and Preventative Health, and Center for Global Health, celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Center for Healthy Aging Research, and supported 11 endowed faculty positions. During her tenure, the College’s research funding from grants and contracts increased from $3 million to more than $18 million.
Research and honors
Bray’s research focuses on eradicating global malnutrition in children and understanding how free radicals and antioxidants affect genes that influence susceptibility to chronic diseases. She has published more than 110 papers in peer-reviewed journals, two books and 100 abstracts, and conference proceedings. Throughout her career, Bray has received numerous awards and honors recognizing her visionary leadership, her pioneering research linking diet and health, and her teaching and mentoring excellence. In 2018, Bray received OSU’s International Service Award and was also appointed as a Fulbright Specialist by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and World Learning.
Dr. Tammy Bray has had a successful career and credits most of her mentoring style and research philosophy to Dr. James Carlson and the intellectual collaborative environment of WSU. She and her late husband, John Bray, a WSU alumnus who received his PhD from the Department of Physics, have three grown children and six grandchildren.