Ralph Alewine

Ralph Alewine

Ralph Alewine

By Emily Dallas

Ralph Alewine, a 1968 graduate of Mississippi State University, reflects on his time spent at MSU and how his post-graduation journey led him to where he is today. Alewine received his bachelor’s degree in physics from MSU and earned a Ph.D. in geophysics from California Institute of Technology in 1974.

Before beginning his doctoral degree, Alewine served on active duty in the United States Air Force. “After leaving the Air Force, I joined the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and led research programs in nuclear testing, nuclear materials detection and arms control,” Alewine said. “In 1995, I received an appointment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Treaty Programs overseeing arms control and nuclear non-proliferation programs,” he added. He continued his career with the Office of the Secretary of Defense until his retirement in 2002.

Alewine was the first and only member of his family to attend MSU, and he describes his time spent at the university as rewarding and also challenging. According to Alewine, “In my junior year on the first day of a physics class, the professor, Dr. Gordon Jones, began by announcing that ‘the best learning is a painful experience, and I want you to learn a lot in this class.’” Alewine went on to explain that he did indeed learn a great deal by being challenged by his professors.

Alewine credits his favorite professor at MSU to be Clifford Rose, who at the time taught a required freshman physics class. “He was a gifted teacher and made learning the fundamentals of physics both interesting and exciting,” Alewine said. “No student could beat him operating a slide rule. This was before computers were available,” he added.

Looking back, Alewine explains that his fondest memory from MSU is the whole experience overall. He fondly remembers making life long friends, receiving valuable education, sports, and most importantly, meeting his wife. Alewine also explained that he still has his very first cowbell, and shares it with his grandson during special occasions and games.

While recounting his time as a MSU student himself, Alewine offers advice to current and future students of the great Maroon and White. “Come to MSU and take advantage of as many as possible of the incredible opportunities the University has to offer,” he said. “Venture into some new subjects; you never know how useful they may be someday,” Alewine added.

Since retirement, Alewine has become more involved with MSU. He is a member of the Arts & Sciences Advisory Board and he and his wife also endowed a scholarship to the university. “My wife and I endowed the Betty and Ralph Alewine Merit Scholarship in the College of Arts and Sciences to attract the most talented science students in the state to study at MSU,” Alewine said. “This has been spectacularly successful. The awardees of this four-year scholarship have been truly outstanding,” he added.


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