Alfred University News

Scholes Lecture at Alfred University postponed

Alastair Cormack
Alastair Cormack

The annual Scholes Lecture at Alfred University, scheduled for April 2 and featuring Alastair Cormack, the Van Derck Fréchette Professor of Ceramic Science and Founding Dean of the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University, has been postponed due to the University’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.


ALFRED, NY – The annual Scholes Lecture at Alfred University, scheduled for April 2 and featuring Alastair Cormack, the Van Derck Fréchette Professor of Ceramic Science and Founding Dean of the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University, has been postponed due to the University’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All on-campus gatherings, including lectures, career fairs, lectures, and speeches, have been suspended indefinitely. Cormack’s lecture, “Disorder in Ceramics and Glass – an Atom’s Eye View,” will be rescheduled for a later date. The lecture will examine the application of atomistic simulations to some of the problems, in both crystals and glasses, undertaken by Cormack’s students over the years.

“Many of the useful – or otherwise – properties of ceramics and glass can be blamed on disorder at the atomic scale,” Cormack observes in an abstract for the talk. “However, this can be hard to characterize experimentally, particularly in the case of glasses. Forty years ago the field of Computational (Ceramic) Materials Science did not exist.

“…Much has changed over the past four decades, both in terms of hardware and software. Really quite complex problems can now be tackled, particularly with respect to chemistry, where multi-component systems are now the norm and chemical reactivity, involving dissociative reactions, can be followed.”

Cormack holds an M.A. degree from the University of Cambridge and M.S. and doctoral degrees from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Following post-doctoral work at University College London (including a stay at the University of Chicago), he joined the faculty of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1985. Since then, he has held a number of administrative positions in addition to his research and teaching.

 He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, a Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology, and a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society. He has Chartered Scientist and Chartered Chemist status in the UK.

 Cormack has published extensively, and is considered to be one of the world’s leading authorities on the application of atomistic computer simulations to the structure and properties of glasses. He is a member of the International Advisory Boards for the Physics of Non-Crystalline Solids (PNCS) conference series (first organized by Van Derck Fréchette) and the Structure of Non-Crystalline Materials (NCM) conference series. In 2007 he organized the 17th International Conference on Solid State Ionics, and the XIVth International Conference on the Physics of Non-Crystalline Solids in 2015.

The Scholes Lecture Series was established in 1982 by alumni of Alfred University to honor the late Samuel R. Scholes, who in 1932 established the first glass science program in the United States at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Scholes served as dean, associate dean, head of the Department of Glass Technology, and professor of glass science.