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BEC 256 B
(205) 934-8400

Research and Teaching Interests: Thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, heat and mass transfer, transport phenomena, computational methods, engineering mathematics, engineering design, solid state physics, statistical mechanics

Office Hours: M/W 3:00-5:00 p..m., and by appointment


  • B.S., Swansea University, Geology and Oceanography
  • Ph.D., Washington State University, Geology

Iwan Alexander is a professor of Mechanical Engineering and currently serving as interim chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UAB. He was Dean of the UAB School of Engineering from August 2013 to August 2019. Before taking the position of dean at UAB, Alexander was chair of the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Case Western Reserve University. In 2007, he led a group of faculty that created the Great Lakes Energy Institute, with a mission to catalyze “breakthroughs in energy sustainability that address the most pressing problems facing our world by empowering our faculty students and partners.” He was appointed as faculty director of the Great Lakes Energy Institute in 2007.

From 2005 until 2009 he directed the National Center for Space Exploration Research (NCSER) co-located at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. Alexander’s association with NASA started in 1985 when he joined the Marshal Space Flight Center as a visiting scientist. From 1986 until 2012, his research was funded by a number of different NASA programs, and he was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Medal in August 2008. In 2011, he co-authored a chapter “Microgravity Research in the Space Shuttle Era” in the book Wings in Orbit and was an editor of the book.

Research Interests

Iwan Alexander’s personal research interests have covered a number of topics including energy and sustainability, the physics and mechanics of fluid interfaces, computational fluid mechanics and energy transport and crystal growth and solidification. For the last 30 years, his research has included theoretical studies, computational simulations, and experiments, particularly those involving processes associated with materials preparation and fluid surface dynamics. His research experience includes:

  • Physico-chemical transport in energy systems.
  • Wind Array dynamics and performance.
  • Computational simulation of wind turbines, wind arrays, and acoustic noise generation.
  • Energy harvesting with small scale devices (electrical current generation from fluid interactions with carbon nanotube arrays, graphene and ZnO nanowires).
  • Dynamics of two-phase miscible and immiscible fluids.
  • Dynamics and static behavior of fluid surfaces and interfaces.
  • Simulation of bone growth using Monte-Carlo techniques.
  • Processing of high quality CdTe semiconductors (co-investigator on a space experiment flown on USML-2, in October 1995) numerical simulation of transport and dewetting phenomena.
  • Flow and transport in cell culture bioreactors.
  • Stochastic models for the prediction of microstructure in binary eutectic systems.
  • Nonlinear analysis of the morphological stability of a solidifying binary alloy, with latent heat effects at the solid-fluid interface.
  • The determination of the residual acceleration environment in low-earth orbit spacecraft and problems associated with reduction and dissemination of residual acceleration data taken from low earth-orbit spacecraft. Passive Accelerometer Experiment: acceleration measurements using a novel accelerometer on the MIR space station.
  • Formulation of a mathematical model of the microgravity field in a spacecraft, including the effects of variable spacecraft attitude and atmospheric drag. Examination of the model’s effect on free particle motion and fluid motion.
  • Thermodynamics of surfaces in solid-liquid and two-phase solid systems. The work included an examination of surfaces of arbitrary shape and included elastic effects, both in the bulk solid and in the surface. Conditions necessary for thermomechanical equilibrium were obtained using a variational approach.
  • Coupling of strain effects with phase transformation kinetics. The general problem here is to calculate, at each instant of time, the strain field about a precipitate of arbitrary shape, growing from a solid solution. This work is part of a study of the effects of elastic strains on interface morphology during diffusion-controlled precipitation in solids.
  • Stress-assisted diffusion in solids. Examining in detail the approaches of mixture theory, and "irreversible thermodynamics," an attempt to deduce appropriate constitutive relations for diffusion in stressed solids from first principles.
  • Application of fluid dynamic models to problems associated with the buckling of layered rocks subjected to low rates of strain.

Recent Courses

  • EGR 110: Introduction to Engineering
  • HC 111: Introduction to Engineering Design
  • EE 610: Technical Communication

Select Publications

  • R. Lu, M. R. Haider, S. Gardner, J. I. D. Alexander and Y. Massoud, "A Paper Based Inkjet-Printed Graphene Sensor for Breathing Flow Monitoring," IEEE Sensors Letters 3, issue 2 (2019) DOI: 10.1109/LSENS.2018.2885316.
  • T. Zhang, M.R. Haider, Y. Massoud and J. Iwan D. Alexander, "An Oscillatory Neural Network Based Local Processing Unit for Pattern Recognition Applications," Electronics 8, 64; DOI:10.3390/electronics8010064.
  • X. Ke, J.M. Prahl, J.I.D Alexander, J.S. Wainright, T.A. Zawodzinski, and R.F. Savinell, "Rechargeable redox flow batteries: Flow fields, stacks and design considerations," Chemical Society Reviews 47, 8721 (2018).
  • D. V. Lyubimov, T. P. Lyubimova, N. I. Lobov, and J. I. D. Alexander, "Rayleigh–Bénard–Marangoni convection in a weakly non-Boussinesq fluid layer with a deformable surface," Physics of Fluids 30, 0241031-8 (2018).
  • X. Ke, J.M. Prahl, J.I.D Alexander and R.F. Savinell, "Redox flow batteries with serpentine flow fields: Distributions of electrolyte flow reactant penetration into the porous carbon electrodes and effects on performance," Journal of Power Sources 384, 295-302 (2018).
  • X. Ke, J.M. Prahl, J.I.D Alexander and R.F. Savinell, "Mathematical modeling of electrolyte flow in a segment of flow channel over porous electrode layered system in vanadium flow battery with flow field design," Electrochimica Acta 223, 122-134 (2017).
  • X. Ke, J.M. Prahl, J.I.D Alexander, R.F. Savinell, "A simple analytical model of coupled single flow channel over porous electrode in vanadium redox flow battery with serpentine flow channel," Journal of Power Sources 288, 308-313 (2015).
  • Ke, X., Alexander, J.I.D., Prahl, J.M., Savinell, R.F., “Flow distribution and maximum current density studies in redox flow batteries with a single passage of the serpentine flow channel,” Journal of Power Sources 270, 646-657, (2014).
  • Chen, Y., Liang, D., Gao, X.P.A., Alexander, J.I.D., “Sensing and energy harvesting of fluidic flow by InAs nanowires,” Nano Letters 13 (8), 3953-3957 (2013).

Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies

  • American Society of Engineering Education
  • American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal, August 2008
  • Associate Fellow of the American institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, January 2006