Hal Alper Named 2016 Emerging Inventor of the Year

Hal Alper
Photo by Marsha Miller

AUSTIN, Texas — Hal Alper, associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, has been named the 2016 Emerging Inventor of the Year by the UT Austin Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC).

A relatively new award category, the Emerging Inventor of the Year award is given by the OTC to recognize faculty members who excel in their fields and whose work produces practicable innovations and life-changing discoveries. Business and technology leaders from across the Austin area joined with UT Austin faculty members to honor Alper at the 6th Annual Inventor of the Year Award Ceremony & Reception on Wednesday, Nov. 9. The program also named Dr. Jonathan Sessler as the 2016 Inventor of the Year and recognized UT Austin inventors who were issued patents during the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Dr. Alper combines engineering approaches with tools and strategies from synthetic biology, systems biology, and protein and genetic engineering. This allows the alteration of cells so that their metabolism can be harnessed to produce sustainable and renewable biochemicals, such as fuels and pharmaceuticals.

A leader in the fields of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, his research has led him to develop a series of transcriptional control elements that provide newfound control of gene expression in cells, and he has also helped to establish an approach termed “promoter engineering.”

Alper received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other honors he has received include the Young Investigator Award from ACS Biochemical Technology Division, the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology Young Investigator Award, and the Jay Bailey Young Investigator Award in Metabolic Engineering.