College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Alex King receives international Acta Materialia Hollomon Materials & Society award

George (Rusty) Thompson Gray III (left), Acta Materialia chair, treasurer and board governor, presents Alex King, professor of materials science and engineering, with the Acta Materialia Hollomon Award for Materials and Society.

Alex King, Iowa State University professor of materials science and engineering, is the recipient of the 2019 Acta Materialia Hollomon Materials and Society Award.

The award recognizes King’s outstanding leadership in promoting the understanding of materials science’s significant impact on society.

“The Hollomon award is a great testament to Alex’s extensive accomplishments in illuminating the importance of materials science and engineering in improving our world,” said Richard LeSar, interim chair of materials science and engineering. “Alex is singularly skilled in leading collaborations of the best materials engineers and scientists to take on the challenges facing society.”

King recently completed a five-year term as the founding director of the Critical Materials Institute at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. CMI is a DOE Energy Innovation Hub that brings together four national labs, seven universities and a dozen corporations to create technologies that make better use of materials and eliminate the need for materials that are often subject to supply disruptions.

In King’s time as CMI director, the organization made 90 invention disclosures and 50 patent applications with six patents awarded so far. From those innovations, two won prestigious national R&D 100 Awards and five license agreements were signed. The number of researchers and organizations participating in CMI grew to 24 full-time team members and 47 affiliates, publishing more than 230 research papers. The CMI is also dedicated to educating the next generation of materials scientists and engineers and offers a number of education and outreach programs for K-12 student and teachers, undergrads and graduate students

King’s successful leadership of CMI reflects his commitment to working at the intersection of science and society throughout his career. He served as a U.S. Department of State Jefferson Science Fellow for 2005-2006, lending his scientific expertise to policy making, and he was a visiting fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in 1996. When King was president of the Materials Research Society in 2002, he helped create a first-of-its -kind and widely acclaimed traveling hands-on education and outreach exhibit that gave thousands of people better understanding and appreciation for materials science and engineering.

In 2017, King was the Materials, Metals and Minerals Society and ASM International Distinguished Lecturer on Materials and Society, and in 2013 he delivered a TEDx talk on critical materials.

King’s extensive contributions to the field of materials science and engineering have been recognized with election to Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, ASM International and the MRS.

Previous to leading the CMI, King was director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, a national laboratory contract operated by Iowa State, from 2008 – 2013, and he was head of Purdue’s School of Materials Engineering from 1999 – 2007. King received a doctoral degree from Oxford and was a postdoc at Oxford and MIT and a professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His recent research work has been in understanding the dynamics of materials supply-chain failures and implementing effective strategies to avoid or alleviate them.

King received the Hollomon Award at the 2019 TMS Spring Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.