Tom Ranney named JC Raulston Distinguished Professor

NC State University’s Department of Horticultural Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and JC Raulston Arboretum have announced that Dr. Tom Ranney has been selected as a JC Raulston Distinguished Professor. Ranney is a CALS professor of horticultural science stationed at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River.

“Dr. Ranney has done an exceptional job of combining practical, applied plant breeding with in-depth research on plant production, physiology, cytogenetics, reproductive biology and crop improvement,” said Dr. John Dole, Horticultural Science Department head. “He has focused on strategies for developing non-invasive plant materials that have advanced the science of germplasm development and led to the introduction of important new seedless cultivars.”

Ranney and the other members of his team have produced a diverse range of valuable new ornamental and bioenergy cultivars, resulting in economic development and competitive advantages for horticultural industries and generating millions of dollars in retail value.

A number of Ranney’s cultivars have become “category leaders,” meaning that they are the most popular cultivars of the species, including Hydrangea Invincibelle Spirit.  His cultivars are being grown on three continents, attesting to the success of his work.

“Some of his most popular garden introductions include the Double Take series of flowering quince, the ‘J.C. Raulston’ mahonia, the ‘Aphrodite’ and ‘Venus’ sweetshrubs and the ‘Little Ruby’ dogwood,” said  Mark Weathington, JCRA director.

Ranney also has trained up and coming scientists in horticultural science; many have become faculty members at various institutions, scientists at USDA, employees at some of the leading plant breeding companies and leaders of public gardens.

He works with students on all levels, starting with his summer internship program, where he brings promising undergraduates to work with his group at the Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center. Most of his interns have continued on to graduate school, either with him or with other faculty.

Well-respected nationally and internationally, Ranney annually receives many visitors from countries all over the world to meet and work with him, and he has been invited to speak in a number of countries.

Among Ranney’s many awards and recognitions: Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science in 2014; Outstanding Graduate Educator, the American Society for Horticultural Science; and the H. Marc Cathey Award: Recognizing Outstanding Scientific Research that has Enriched the Field of Horticulture, from the American Horticultural Society.

The JC Raulston Distinguished Professorship was established by C.D. Spangler Jr. and Meredith Spangler in 1998 in honor of the late Dr. J.C. Raulston. The goal of the professorship is to enhance the global research, teaching and extension programs in the Department of Horticultural Science, with a special emphasis on the JCRA, which was established in 1976 as a result of Raulston’s vision, tenacity and professionalism. – CALS Department of Horticultural Science