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The art of scientific glass blowing at UW-Milwaukee

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If you heard your university had a resident glass blower, what would come to mind? You might be thinking of someone who creates vases or artwork using molten glass. In the case of UW-Milwaukee, their resident glass blower works with chemists instead of artists. But that doesn't mean the job doesn't require creativity.

"We really assemble parts together, valves, joints, tubing... so that scientists, especially in organic chemistry, can use them to do their research," says Neal Korfhage.

Scientific glass blowers create unique pieces to fit the needs of the chemists they work with. That uniqueness is part of why many colleges and other scientific research institutions employ in-house glass blowers.

Korfhage explains, "I can directly interact with the professor or the graduate student, to get exactly what they need. So if they come down to my shop with a drawing and say, 'I really need this setup,' then I can tell them if it'll work or if it's feasible or some modification they might need to do."

Joy Powers is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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