Glassblower helps shape first-rate research

July 23, 2003 11:06 a.m.

The second floor of Frick Chemical Laboratory is full of graduate students in white lab coats carefully monitoring intricate webs of glass tubes filled with the compounds they are studying.

In the building next door, ensconced in a room cluttered with a dozen half-finished glass creations, Michael Souza wields a torch with flames dancing from it, custom making by hand many of the glass tubes used in these experiments.

Souza is the University's only scientific glassblower , and his deft hands and quick mind have made him essential not just to Princeton's chemists, but to scientists all over campus.

"He makes the most incredibly complicated glass instruments with the barest of instructions," said Stephanie Greene, the department manager for chemistry. "His creativity and understanding of very complex scientific experiments is amazing."

Souza has created some highly complex pieces for Stephen Forrest, the James McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Electrical Engineering, that helped his department develop a new way of growing organic materials.

"So much of science has to do with developing a new instrument," Forrest said. "If you have a new instrument, you have a new measurement. If you have a new measurement, you can make a new discovery."

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Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601