Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
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2016-10-03 12:58:18 - General
|Coe Physics Professor Mario Affatigato (left) congratulates his colleague, Coe Physics Professor Steve Feller, for being named a Centenary Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology (SGT). The prestigious award was presented at a recent meeting of the SGT held at Sheffield Cathedral in Sheffield, England, with about 500 scientists from around the world in attendance.|
Coe College B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics Steve Feller is the first recipient of an exceptional and prestigious award granted by the original worldwide glass research organization in its 100-year history. Feller was named as a Centenary Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology (SGT). Created this year, the Centenary Fellow of the Society award celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of SGT.
The award was presented at a recent meeting of the SGT held at Sheffield Cathedral in Sheffield, England, with about 500 scientists from around the world in attendance. The SGT, the first society dedicated to the study of glass, was established in 1916 at Sheffield University.
As part of the organization's celebration of its centenary, the society presented three awards. Each awardee was named a lifetime honorary fellow in the society, called a Centenary Fellow. The recognition was granted in the areas of science, industry and service to the society. Feller was chosen as the scientist to receive the inaugural award.
According to the SGT, Feller was recognized, "For his exceptional contribution to glass technology and the society by way of publication of a large body of world-class scientific work, enthusiastic support of the SGT American section, his excellence as a teacher and the establishment of a new Glass Research Center at Coe College."
"It was a special night and a wonderful ceremony. To me, the great thing about it was that it once again raised the recognition for Coe's physics program," said Feller. "We are well known in the international glass community. It was a very good scientific meeting."
At the event, Feller was accompanied by his wife, Barbara, and longtime colleague Fran Allison and Francis Halpin Professor of Physics Mario Affatigato.
Feller says that collaborations have been very important to the success of the Coe glass research program. From the beginning, he has always sought to work with scientists with mutual interests, many of whom were at the SGT conference. The result has been joint research opportunities for the physics faculty and students in England, Brazil, France, Canada, Greece and China, as well as leading university and company research laboratories in the U.S.
"Lots of scientists in the glass field came up to me after the ceremony to congratulate me, and it was nice of them to do that," said Feller.
Feller has been studying glass since he was a graduate student at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. In his graduate research he used Nuclear Magnetic Resonance techniques to study glass. Feller brought his knowledge and experience to Coe when he began teaching physics in 1979.
Starting with a handful of students each summer in the early years, Feller decided to focus on researching the properties of glasses and making new glasses.
"In the early days, we had three or four students doing research each summer. We began to write papers together, we began to give talks together, and it just kept growing," said Feller. "It was good fit; we had a niche."
Today, Feller and his physics colleagues work with several dozen students each summer, studying the properties and atomic structures of glasses among many topics. This research work has resulted in the discoveries of new types of glass at Coe.
When Affatigato - a 1989 graduate of Coe - returned to the college as a physics faculty member in 1995, Feller says the "gestalt" was apparent and the program began to quickly build on itself.
To garner the funding for the glass research, Feller started to research grant opportunities early in his Coe career. His first significant grant came from the Research Foundation, followed by initial funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1986. Since then, the NSF has continually funded research in the Coe Physics Department, with more than $8 million in grants overall. Along the way, Coe also became one of a few small colleges in the country designed as a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site by the NSF, which further expanded the opportunities for students.
"From 1986 through the present, we've been fortunate to receive continuous funding from the NSF," said Feller. "The primary grants have come from the NSF, but we've received support from other foundations and sources as well. Mario has also received lots of grants for research and equipment."
In addition, Coe College has been supportive of the physics research in many ways, such as providing free summer housing for research students. This serves as an incentive to help Feller and his colleagues to attract the best students to conduct research each summer. All totaled, what began as a modest effort has turned into a $250,000 operation each summer.
"We want the best students to join us each summer," said Feller. "Over the years, we've been able to provide our students with life-changing opportunities and experiences."
Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.