UW graduate returns as Rochelle Chair in animal science

Portrait of man
James Pru

A Washington State University (WSU) professor who received his Ph.D. at the University of Wyoming has returned as the Rochelle Endowed Chair in the Department of Animal Science.

James Pru began Monday in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. His research area is in reproductive physiology, said Bledar Bisha, associate professor and interim head of the animal science department.

“We are thrilled to have a scientist of professor Pru’s caliber join the department,” Bisha said. “He has the expertise and temperament required to allow him to become a leader in research and teaching at UW.”

The Rochelle Chair was established in 1992 by university benefactors Curt and Marian Rochelle to attract and retain nationally and internationally recognized scholars and teachers who enhance the university’s reputation, research earnings and student recruitment.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources dean Barbara Rasco said Pru joining professor Brenda Alexander and assistant professor Jeremy Block in animal science will enhance the department’s reproductive physiology research efforts.

“His work is significant – addressing fertility and pregnancy outcomes using molecular methods that are important for both people and animal agriculture,” said Rasco.

Prior to returning to UW, Pru had a split appointment between the Agricultural Research Center and academic programs at WSU in Pullman, Wash. He also served as associate director at WSU’s Center for Reproductive Biology.

Pru graduated from Northwest College in Powell in 1988 and obtained his bachelor’s (1991) and master’s (1993) degrees in zoology and physiology and his Ph.D. in reproductive biology in 2000, all at UW.

He was a post-doctoral fellow in molecular reproductive biology at the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, in Boston until 2003.

Pru served as an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at Harvard Medical School from 2007-2009 and then joined WSU as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and full professor in 2017.

Bisha said Pru plans to conduct research leading to reduced production costs by enhancing reproductive efficiency in livestock, development of strategies to mitigate spontaneous recurrent miscarriages, both in women and domestic animals, endometriosis and endometrial cancer (women) or intrauterine growth restriction (bovine and human pregnancies).

“Based on his record, I am certain he is capable of working collaboratively with faculty within the department and university-wide,” said Bisha.

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