“What Starts Here Changes the World,” is not a saying the The University of Texas at Austin takes lightly. Within all colleges and departments on the UT campus, faculty members are striving to create learning opportunities and creative spaces for students, as well as advance research through science, technology, and understanding. Within the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Dr. Molly Bray is a primary force driving the proficiency, productivity, and advancement of the students, faculty, and staff throughout department.
Currently, Dr. Molly Bray is the Department Chair for Nutritional Sciences. As Chair, Dr. Bray oversees all programs within the department and ensures the smooth operation across activities conducted in the department. In addition to serving as Chair, Dr. Bray actively conducts research, which focuses on the relationship between energy balance and lifestyle factors such as exercise, nutrition, and circadian patterns of behavior. Although she is well steeped in nutrition today, she did not start out that way. Dr. Bray began her academic career in kinesiology, and ultimately earned her PhD in Human and Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She explains that her educational journey was further sparked while obtaining her master’s degree by catching “the research bug,” which led her to seek additional training and pursue a PhD. Through her work, Dr. Bray found her way to nutrition by using her education in biomedical sciences and applying it toward child nutrition research at the Baylor College of Medicine Genetics Core Laboratory.
Nutrition, according to Dr. Bray, is relevant in everyone’s life and is an amazing blend of “everything cool about science.” For example, research has shown that food consumption plays a vital role in many aspects of health and can be a key component of disease prevention and treatment. Specifically, Dr. Bray’s research has shown the interconnectedness of genetics and obesity in a person’s life – whether an individual knows it or not. Ultimately, Dr. Bray sees the future of nutrition leveraging highly specified testing and technology to create personalized diets, based on genetics, in order to maximize health for individuals. Yet, she also suggests that significant work and advancement of technology and technique needs to happen before this is a viable option for nutritional science.
In her role as Department Chair, Dr. Bray spearheaded the development and implementation of an online Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences (MSNS). This MSNS program is the first 100% online Master’s degree in the College of Natural Sciences and one of the first fully online Master’s degrees at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Bray explains that this online MSNS program is “great for different types of students,” due to its online format which can accommodate the schedule of a working professional. She actively encourages those who harbor a curiosity about nutrition to apply, as the curriculum is innovative while also maintaining the rigor and excellence of the in-residence graduate programs. She reminds us that pursuing education at any point in life can be inspiring and exhilarating. Obtaining this degree from The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Bray continues, is significant because “UT is one of the world’s leaders in research.” With a program based strongly on current science, the online Master’s program in Nutritional Sciences is sure to bring student’s understanding of nutrition science and its relationship to health, disease, and behavior to a higher level.
If the online MSNS program is something you are interested in learning more about, visit onlinenutrition.cns.utexas.edu and complete the Request for Information Form to stay up to date about program details, deadlines, and events.