The Department of Horticultural Science, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA) have announced that Dr. Tom Ranney has been selected as the JC Raulston Distinguished Professor. The JC Raulston Distinguished Professorship was established by C.D. Spangler, Jr. and Meredith Spangler in 1998 in honor of the late 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 Dr. Raulston’s vision, tenacity, and professionalism.
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. He has focused on strategies for developing non-invasive plant materials that has advanced the science of germplasm development and led to the introduction of important new seedless cultivars.
Dr. 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 our horticultural industries and generating millions of dollars in retail value. A number of Dr. 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, ‘J.C. Raulston’ mahonia, ‘Aphrodite’ and ‘Venus’ sweetshrubs, and ‘Little Ruby’ dogwood.
Dr. Ranney has trained many up and coming scientists in horticultural science, who now are 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.
Dr. Ranney is well-known nationally and internationally. Visitors come from countries all over the world to meet and work with him, and he has been invited to speak in a number of countries. Dr. Ranney has received many awards and recognitions. He was made a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science in 2014. A couple of the more notable national awards include the Outstanding Graduate Educator from 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.