Alfred University News

Alumnus Brian Topper, M.S. ’20, recognized by ACerS at Glass and Optical Materials Division annual meeting

Alfred University alumnus Brian Topper was recently honored by the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) during its Glass and Optical Materials Division (GOMD) annual meeting, held May 19-23 in Las Vegas, NV.

Topper, who earned a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from Alfred University in 2020, was the recipient of 2024 Norbert J. Kreidl Award for Young Scholars. The award is given in recognition of the best PhD thesis for the 2023-24 academic year. The work for which Topper is recognized is titled “Evolving the lever rule: The short-range configuration model and its application to zinc borate glasses.” As winner of the Kreidl Award, Topper presented a lecture on May 21, during the GOMD annual meeting.

Topper, a post-doctoral fellow at Clemson University in Clemson, SC, received his PhD in optical science and engineering from the University of New Mexico in 2023. His doctoral work was carried out under the supervision of Arash Mafi, working on high power laser cooling of ytterbium doped silica.

Unusual for this year’s Kreidl award is the fact that Topper submitted a non-PhD study for the award lecture. His application focused on the glass science work he conducted under the mentorship of his master’s degree supervisor, Doris Möncke, professor of glass science in Alfred University’s Inamori School of Engineering. The work—titled “Zinc borate glasses: properties, structure and modelling of the composition-dependence of borate speciation”—was done in in collaboration with researchers in Corning, NY, and Greece, and started as a side project during Topper’s time at Alfred.

Topper and Möncke continue to work together, having published 11 papers together since 2021 with an additional manuscript currently under review. Their collaboration was recognized by ACerS in 2023 when they were co-recipients of the Varshneya-Mauro-Jain Guru-Chela Award at GOMD 2023. In 2021, Topper won the prestigious Oldfield Award from the Society of Glass Technology (SGT) for best taught master’s thesis. Topper’s thesis, on highly modified borate glasses, was written while he pursued his MS degree from Alfred University.

An ACerS member since 2018, Topper received his BS in Physics from the University of Richmond in 2015. He has authored or co-authored 19 peer-reviewed publications, one book chapter, and 18 conference contributions in optics, spectroscopy, and glass science. He is currently working on fabrication of optical fiber for high energy laser systems at Clemson University’s Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technology (COMSET).