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Dr. Benjamin K. Malphrus

Executive Director of Space Science Center / Professor of Space Sciencemalphrus.jpg
Program/Dept: Physics, Earth Science and Space Systems Engineering
Degrees, Licensures and Certifications: Ed.D., Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University; M.A.T., Physics, University of South Carolina; B.A., Art, University of South Carolina
Research Interests: Microsatellite and Picosatellite systems engineering, Satellite Ground Operations, The Physics of Interacting Galaxies and The Cosmic X-Ray Background


Dr. Benjamin K. Malphrus is Professor of Space Science at Morehead State University where he also directs the University’s Space Science Center. He served as project director of the design and construction of the 13 M Morehead Radio Telescope and more recently the 21 M Space Tracking Antenna operated by the center. He has served on the scientific staff of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, as visiting scientist at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and on the faculty of universities including the University of South Carolina and West Virginia University. He is author of a book on the evolution of instrumentation in radio astronomy. He has initiated and participated in numerous educational initiatives including the development of space science and astrophysics degree programs at Morehead State and the design and construction of a Low Earth Orbiting Satellite. Dr. Malphrus served on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Science Teachers Association from 1990- 1994 and as president of that organization in 1996. Additionally, he has served on numerous state-wide committees (Statewide EPSCoR for 2 years, NASA EPSCoR for 14 years, Kentucky Space Grants Consortium for 14 years). Dr. Malphrus has published papers in scientific journals on topics ranging from extragalactic astrophysics to instrumentation in radio astronomy, to space systems engineering. He has managed 47 grant projects  totaling over $6 million and negotiated transfers and gifts of scientific equipment to the university totaling over $7 million. In 1994, 1995, and 1996 Dr. Malphrus was awarded the NASA JOVE research fellowship for research in the structure and kinematics of gravitationally interacting galaxies. This research led to the discovery of the first genuinely young galaxy ever observed in an interacting field, NGC 5291-B. Recently, Dr. Malphrus has been involved in promoting, capitalizing, designing, and constructing a $15.6 million state-of-the-art research, development, and education center for the space science program. In the late 1990s, Dr. Malphrus developed a theory of galaxy formation that has gained wide acceptance among the astronomical community. He continues to contribute to the body of research in interacting galaxies, radio astronomy instrumentation, and space systems design and operation. 

Dr. Malphrus has served on research and development teams that have produced some fairly significant accomplishments including: 

  • Discovered a previously unknown galaxy (NGC 5291-B)
  • Established the Space Science Center at Morehead State University 
  • Designed and constructed several major scientific instruments:

o The MSU 13 Meter Morehead Radio Telescope, 
o The $2.7 Million 21 Meter (21 M) Morehead State Space Tracking Antenna and Radio Telescope, 
o Large anechoic chamber which replicates the electromagnetic environment of space, 
o Far field antenna test range, 
o Satellite Tracking/Ground Operations station 
o S-Band, and UHF/VHF Satellite Tracking Systems for NanoSatellites

  • Designed and constructed components of several Low Earth Orbiting Satellite (KYSat-1, RAMPARTs, and Eagle-1) 
  • Co-led the development of two satellite missions: the Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite and TechSat-1 
  • Awarded and Implemented 50+ research and education grants (totaling approximately $7 Million)
  • Acquired equipment and instrumentation gifts from NASA, DoD, and commercial partners totaling approximately $6 Million 
  • Published numerous papers in scientific journals 
  • Published a book on radio astronomy
  • Presented numerous papers at scientific conferences
  • Created two new academic programs (B.S. in Space Science and B.S. in Physics Area of Concentration in Astrophysics)
  • Continuing collaborations with NASA, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the Department of Defense 
  • Copyrighted software for Satellite Earth Station Control 
  • Managed contracts for satellite mission support with NASA and commercial ventures 
  • Promoted, capitalized, designed and constructed a $15.4 Million state-of-the-art research, development, and education center for space science 
  • Developed high-precision flux calibration methods for the 21 M radio telescope 
  • Developed a theory of galaxy formation that has gained wide acceptance among the astronomical community 

Contact Info:

Space Science Center 101B
  • Morehead (Residential Campus)
    150 University Blvd., Morehead, KY 40351
  • Admissions
    121 E. Second St., Morehead, KY 40351
  • Financial Aid
    121 E. Second St., Morehead, KY 40351
  • Accounting & Financial Services (Student Billing)
    207 Howell-McDowell, Morehead, KY 40351
  • Registrar
    201 Ginger Hall, Morehead, KY 40351
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