Amy Ralston named James K. Billman Jr., M.D. Endowed Professor

Posted at 11:46 AM, Nov 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-01 11:46:56-04

Associate Professor Amy Ralstonwas named the inaugural James K. Billman Jr., M.D. endowed professor in the MSU College of Natural Science Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

“Today’s investiture underscores the importance of endowed funds and endowed faculty members to the university,” said June Pierce Youatt, MSU Provost. “I’d like to thank Dr. James Billman for his generosity in making this professorship a reality and for his recognition that MSU faculty have an enormous impact on the university, the state and the world through their research, teaching and outreach. And on behalf of MSU, I congratulate Amy on this honor and am confident that she will continue making significant contributions to her field and will play a strong leadership role here at MSU, both as a faculty member and as a student mentor.”

Ralston focuses her research on how embryos make and use stem cells in order to create new ways to study and treat human health problems, including infertility and birth defects.

“This endowment will allow me and my students to pursue exciting new areas of stem cell research in my lab,” Ralston said.  “Dr. Billman’s generosity and vision shows me that MSU is a unique place with extraordinary alumni.  I am proud to be a part of that.”

Ralston’s pioneering work with stem cells and other scholarly achievements led her to receive a 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Barack Obama. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on a science and engineering professional in the early stages of their independent research careers.

“The college and the university are very fortunate to have someone of Amy’s standing to occupy this important position,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, NatSci dean. “We are thrilled that Amy will serve as the first Billman Professor and look forward to great things. We also want to thank Dr. Billman, for whom this professorship is named, for his generosity and vision.”

The investiture ceremony took place Oct. 27 at MSU’s Wharton Center for the Performing Arts.