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MSU Professor Dr. Ben Malphrus and alum Dr. Willi Walker inducted into the KY Aviation Hall of Fame

Dr. Benjamin K. Malphrus, executive director of the Space Science Center and professor of space science at Morehead State University, and MSU alumna Dr. Wilma “Willi” Walker (Class of 1956) have been inducted into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.  

Malphrus and Walker were named to the Hall of Fame earlier this year and were recognized at a ceremony on Nov. 13.  

Malphrus was instrumental in developing the space systems engineering and astrophysics programs at Morehead State and the construction of MSU’s Space Science Center. Malphrus has served on the National Radio Astronomy Observatory scientific staff, as a visiting scientist at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and on the faculty of universities including the University of South Carolina and West Virginia University. In the late 1990s, Malphrus developed a theory of galaxy formation that has gained wide acceptance among the astronomical community and led to the discovery of a previously unknown galaxy, identified as NGC 5291-B, the first known galaxy proved to result from galaxy-galaxy interactions. He contributes to research in interacting galaxies, radio astronomy instrumentation, and space systems design and operation.   

Walker is a retired professor of geography from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. In 1983, she was asked by EKU Vice President Joe Schwendeman to develop an aviation program at the school. The program remains the only degree-granting aviation program in the state and is the only flight program in Kentucky approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA.) She was a professor of geography and served as the aviation program coordinator until her retirement in 2000. She also served on the Madison County Airport Board. She was inducted into the MSU Alumni Hall of Fame in 2020.  

In 2007, Walker established the Walker Family Scholarship Endowment in honor of her family and their love of MSU. For more information, visit    

Malphrus and Walker are part of the 25th Enshrinement class into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.  

The Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame has recognized honorees since 1996 for their contributions and achievements in aviation and aerospace. Those honored represent a wide range of military and civilian pilots, scientists, administrators and corporate leaders.   

For information about programs in space systems engineering at MSU, visit, email or call 606-783-2381.   
Photo Caption: Left to Right are 2021 Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame inductees Cpt. Terri Donner, Dr. Ben Malphrus and Dr. Willi Walker. Photo credit: Mark Mahan, Mahan Multimedia.