The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Maret Traber Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

June 23, 2014


“The Long Journey to Understanding Vitamin E”  June 23, 2014  Location: Linus Pauling Science Center, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Traber discusses her upbringing in Stockton, California, her family background, her earliest interests in science, and her undergraduate experience during a tumultuous period at UC Berkeley. She notes meeting and marrying her husband while still an undergraduate, and describes her Ph.D. studies at Berkeley, a time period during which she also gave birth to a daughter.

The family's move to New Jersey, Traber's experiences as a research scientist at the NYU Medical School, and her mixed feelings about that time period are a major component of the interview. In discussing her seventeen years at NYU, she reflects on her group's initial work on LDL receptors, the beginnings of their interest in Vitamin E, the growth of her technical skills in the laboratory, and the politics, personality issues and gender barriers that dotted her tenure in New York.

Memories of returning to the West Coast and working in Lester Packer's laboratory at UC Berkeley comprise the next component of the session. Traber reflects on the role that Packer played in helping her to re-establish herself once returned to California, and discusses the lipoic acid research that she carried out while in his laboratory. She next describes her move to UC Davis as well as an important visit that she took to the German Institute of Nutrition before outlining her recruitment by the Linus Pauling Institute and her move to Oregon.

The remainder of the interview focuses on Traber's scientific development while a principal investigator at LPI. In this, she outlines her group's accomplishments in researching Vitamin E, provides a glimpse into the development of the Institute over the years, and shares her impressions of day-to-day life at the Linus Pauling Science Center.