Dr. Eugene Sullivan came to Corning in 1908 to establish and lead the new laboratory for Corning Glass Works, accepting Alanson and Arthur Houghton’s invitation to become the first head of Research & Development.
Dr. Sullivan earned his Ph.D. at the University in Leipzig in Germany, taught chemistry at the University of Michigan, and worked as a staff chemist at the U.S. Geological Survey before joining Corning. His expertise in silicate chemistry made him the ideal choice for researching the newly developed German borosilicate glass.
As the laboratory grew, Corning’s scientists worked together in one central location, creating opportunities for collaboration that became an integral part of the company’s R&D process. Sullivan’s inclusion of physicists as well as chemists and optical scientists at the lab increased the world’s understanding of the properties and potential of glass.
Dr. Sullivan began a Corning tradition of solving tough technical problems for a variety of industries. Innovations that emerged from the early laboratory included shatterproof globes for railroad lanterns, chemically resistant glass for battery jars, and lead-free low expansion glasses for lab equipment and bakeware.
Throughout his years at Corning, Sullivan was a strong voice and the leading figure in R&D. In 1960, the construction of the current research facility began in Erwin, three miles from downtown Corning. The facility was named in his honor, and today, “Sullivan Park” is synonymous with patient investment in discovery and breakthrough innovation.