Tracy Drier, master scientific glassblower for the Department of Chemistry and the only scientific glassblower on campus, was recently featured on an episode of Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Television. Drier, who has been with the department for 13 years, began blowing glass with his father and brother when he was in grade school. Now, Drier uses his skills to help scientists design and build cutting-edge equipment for research.
Drier spends time maintaining and fixing equipment to help keep research flowing in the department. In addition to fixing existing equipment, he also creates custom glassware for researchers in the department as specific needs arise. One notable collaboration with Professor Shannon Stahl resulted in an intricate apparatus called the Wisconsin Schlenk Line, which allows chemists to perform chemical reactions in a contaminant-free environment.
He also regularly takes the Wisconsin Fire Wagon, a portable glassblowing cart, to schools, museums, and events like the Wisconsin Science Festival to demonstrate glassblowing and explain its scientific applications to kids. At the end of the day, Drier continues to blow glass at home, where he has a studio for working on artistic glass projects.
- Watch the video here
- Read “Glassblowing isn’t just art — it’s scientific craft,” a 2008 story about Drier on news.wisc.edu