Ray Rodriguez, director of the National Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis, also keeps busy with the work of a center far removed from nutrigenomics -- the study of how different foods can interact with particular genes to increase the risk of diseases.
The professor of molecular and cellular biology has served on the board of the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center in Yolo County since 1997. There, Rodriguez's principal role has been fundraising, although he also has worked in the center's Alternatives to Violence Program.
Soon after he joined the board, Rodriguez developed a strategy to raise more than $800,000 for a state-of-the-art shelter for women and children. It was ultimately built in 1999. In recognition of his volunteer efforts, he was nominated for the campus' Distinguished Public Service award in 2002.
How did you get involved?
I'd been focused on my career for 30 years, and I realized how blessed I was and wanted to give back to the community. I responded to a request for donations during Christmas 1996, and when I got a tour of the center I realized what great work they were doing in forming a peaceful, safe community.
What makes service in this particular area meaningful to you?
I've always had concern for women and children in our society -- especially children, who are powerless. And philosophically, the center's motto -- "Peace begins at home"-- resonates with me. I've realized that a lot of the world's problems start because the home isn't peaceful.
What has been a highlight of your community work?
The opening of the center. The day we took the women and children from the old center in West Sacramento and brought them to the new one, the women actually broke down and cried. They couldn't believe someone had built them something so nice. They couldn't believe it was for them.