Henry Herbol | 2016-2017 Glass Age Scholar | Corning

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Science of Glass

Science of Glass

Science of Glass

2016-2017 Glass Age Scholar

2016-2017 Glass Age Scholar

Henry Herbol, Cornell University

When Henry Herbol looks at glass, he sees a world of possibilities.

“It’s such a versatile material,” he says. “Just by changing the composition or the way you process it, you get vastly different properties you never knew before. That’s what’s so exciting about it.”

Henry’s passion for glass and its secrets won him a year-long stint as Corning’s 2016-2017 Glass Age Scholar.

The third-year Ph.D. student at Cornell University is now working with some of Corning’s top researchers to study how polymer materials can adhere to glass, and how water can affect the interface.

Herbol’s research may eventually be applied in a wide variety of Corning products, including specialty surface treatments for glass in consumer electronics, automotive, and medical products.

Dr. Aravind Rammohan, Process Simulation Manager and Herbol’s industry mentor at Corning, called Herbol  “an outstanding programmer with specialized skills in electronic-  and molecular-level modeling of materials.”

“This combination of skills allows him to make tremendous progress within a reasonable period of time.”

Herbol gravitated toward a career in the sciences from an early age. His mother worked for the U.S. State Department, and the family lived all over the world – including Ukraine, India, and Colombia.

And while languages and cultures changed with each move, he found continuity in learning about math and science.  “Those fundamentals laws are the same no matter where you are,” he said.

Herbol began to learn about materials with lots of room for exploration. Glass – particularly forming phenomena like nucleation – seemed particularly intriguing.

He earned his undergraduate degree in nanoscale science and math at SUNY Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Then he enrolled in the doctorate program at Cornell’s College of Materials Science and Engineering.

An internship with Corning in early 2016 introduced him to seasoned Corning researchers who helped guide his research on adhesion of polymers on glass surfaces. Being able to take part in events like the 2016 Corning Glass Summit helped him form his own place in the research community.

“I learned a lot from everyone. I wanted to keep learning from them, and keep developing the research to make sure it’s useful in lots of different applications,” he said. The Glass Age Scholar program gave him the perfect chance to do just that.

His enthusiasm also reflects what Corning had in mind with the launch of the Glass Age Scholarship two years ago.

“The program is part of our effort to encourage academic research in topics relevant to the precision glass industry, and to help cultivate a vibrant pipeline of glass scientists,” said Dr. Ellen Kosik Williams, university collaborations manager and research associate.

“While it’s too soon to measure concrete results,” Kosik Williams said, “the company is encouraged by the fresh perspective and new ideas that our Glass Age Scholars have brought to their Corning teammates.”

“We anticipate their research might continue in their research group past graduation, establishing new collaboration partners,” she added. “And we hope some of these scholars might become innovators at Corning.”

Herbol said his own future – whether in private industry or academia – is likely to involve exploration of new material properties in glass.

“Glass is such a promising field – and I expect that will continue for many years.”

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The Glass Age Scholarship was awarded to one student annually at the collegiate level, providing an opportunity to work closely with Corning scientists on a research project to help guide academic glass science research.

Students were required to propose a research project highlighting one of twelve topics important for enabling future advances in glass science and engineering – as cited by an article authored by Corning scientists on the need to continue glass science education and academic research.

The goal of the scholarship is to encourage students studying glass science to begin to conduct work in the areas most important to the glass science industry. By doing so, students will gain a solid foundation to prepare “well for a future career in industrial glass research, product or/process development, or manufacturing.”