Physics awarded grants for glass research totalling nearly $900,000

Peterson Hall at NightThe Coe College Physics Department has received three grants totaling $892,062 to conduct advanced glass research, including separate $600,000 and $262,062 awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Faculty within the department have received international acclaim for their work with glass, and the NSF grants were awarded to Physics Department Chair and Fran Allison and Francis Halpin Professor of Physics Dr. Mario Affatigato ’89, B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics Dr. Steven Feller and Assistant Professor of Physics Caio Bragatto. The $600,000 grant will provide funding during the 2022, 2023 and 2024 fiscal years. The monies will support research expenses including student stipends, travel, supplies, conferences and hosting other experts on campus. The second grant, for $262,062, will allow the department to acquire a high-temperature thermal suite to help measure the impact of heat on different glasses and their mechanical properties.

“These grants represent the continuation of a remarkable partnership between Coe College and the NSF,” said Affatigato. “The work done at Coe in that time has contributed to major advances in glass research and our understanding of the role of structure on properties of technological interest.”

Coe also has a longstanding relationship with the NSF as a host site for one of its Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, and is one of only a few small schools in the country to serve as a member of this prestigious program.

The third grant is in the amount of $30,000 from Johnson Energy Services in Atlanta, supporting research for specific glasses used in batteries.

Over the last decade the Coe Physics Department has received nearly $4.5 million in external funding for equipment and research.

Current and future Coe students will be direct beneficiaries of these grants as active participants in these advanced-level research projects. The NSF grant supports research opportunities for up to 40 Kohawks, while three students will benefit from the Johnson Energy Services grant. Students will co-author papers regarding the research findings as well as travel with faculty to professional conferences to assist with presentations.

“These projects are active and inclusive, and teach Kohawks how to do meaningful and sustained research, which is paramount if you’re planning to continue to graduate school and into a career in the sciences,” Affatigato said.

All Coe physics majors complete at least one graduate-level research project before graduating, and for more than 30 years, 100% of physics graduates accepted to graduate school have received a full scholarship for advanced studies. Coe physics graduates work at some of the nation’s leading corporations including Google, Tesla and Corning.

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