The Alexander Prize is named for former UT president and now US Senator Lamar Alexander and his wife, Honey. It recognizes superior teaching and distinguished scholarship.
UT alumnus Benjamin Blalock, the Blalock-Kennedy-Pierce Professor of Analog Electronics, has been on the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science since August 2001 and directs the Integrated Circuits and Systems Laboratory. Much of his work focuses on analog circuitry for extreme environments. He and his research students, in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, have designed a microchip that controls robotic movement in the Mars rover Curiosity. Blalock does similar work with the Exploration Technology Development Program, a NASA-funded team of universities and companies working to develop circuitry that can operate reliably on the moon. Blalock and his research team are now developing space-based avionic systems for exploring the ocean worlds in the outer solar system. He also collaborates with power electronics colleagues in his department to improve power modules used in hybrid and electric vehicles. Since 2012, Blalock has served as his department’s electrical engineering advising coordinator, for which he received the Tickle College of Engineering Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award in 2015. He is a supporter of student scholarship programs and of UT’s first Big Orange STEM Symposium to promote the Tickle College of Engineering to high school students. Blalock received the 2015 Tickle College of Engineering Research Achievement Award and was named a 2011 Tickle College of Engineering Teaching Fellow.