John Balk is the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the UK College of Engineering, and is a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Kentucky (UK) in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. He is also Director of the Electron Microscopy Center, which annually serves over 100 research groups from seven colleges across the university as well as numerous external customers and researchers.
Balk received his BS degree in 1995 from the University of California, Berkeley, where he double-majored in mechanical engineering and materials science & engineering. He received MS and PhD degrees in materials science & engineering from The Johns Hopkins University, in 1997 and 2000, respectively. Before coming to UK, he was a staff scientist at the Max-Planck-Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany, where he also completed two years of post-doctoral work. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and has maintained continuous licensure since 2009.
The Balk research group works to understand structure-property relationships in the behavior of metals, alloys and electronic materials. His group explores the deformation mechanisms that operate in nanoporous metals and alloys, and he has worked in this area since coming to UK. His research also focuses on materials issues related to the processing and operation of thermionic dispenser cathodes, which are high-emission electron sources for radar and communication systems. More recently, his group has begun working on combinatorial approaches to the development, characterization and testing of high entropy alloys, which represent a novel class of emerging materials for high-temperature structural applications. Characterization of the structure and properties of advanced materials is the cross-cutting aspect of his research program.