Rice’s David Alexander earns UK honor

Space scientist named Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

David Alexander, a Rice University professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Rice Space Institute, has been named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his efforts to link the United States and United Kingdom in the space industry and higher education.

David Alexander

David Alexander

The appointment was announced as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, which recognizes exceptional achievement and service to the U.K. All British honors are awarded on merit and are conferred by Queen Elizabeth II on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary.

The OBE was founded in 1917, but honors have been bestowed on the monarch’s birthday since the reign of Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century.

“This is a very well-deserved honor,” said Karen Bell, British consul general in Houston. “Dr. Alexander’s steadfast commitment to strengthening U.K.-U.S. relations across the fields of science, higher education and business has been a tremendous help to our work in the region.”

“I am extremely honored to be receiving this recognition,” Alexander said. “The special relationship that exists between the U.K and the U.S. is incredibly important and is exemplified by our many partnerships in scientific research and education.

“My passion has always been to build on that relationship for the advancement of space exploration in its many forms,” he said. “I am humbled to have my work recognized in this manner and look forward to continuing to promote our two countries’ shared excitement for space for years to come.”

Alexander said it has been a “privilege to work with so many great people in Houston and the U.K.”

Alexander joined the Rice faculty in 2003. He specializes in solar research and leads the Rice Space Institute, whose mission is to become a world leader in space science research and space technology development by fostering interdisciplinary research and education in collaboration with academic, business, industry and government partners.

He currently serves on the advisory boards of SpaceCom, Deep Space Industries and the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture at the University of Houston and on the editorial boards of ROOM: The Space Journal and Space Science Reviews. He has been named a GlobalScot by the Scottish government, appointed to the UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems Subcommittee on the Science of Space and is a member of the board of directors of the American Astronautical Society.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in natural philosophy and astronomy and a Ph.D. in relativistic cosmological models from theUniversity of Glasgow, Scotland.

Alexander’s OBE will be conferred at an investiture to be held at Buckingham Palace later in the summer.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.