Have you ever wondered where all of those broken glass instruments or beakers go to be fixed when they’re clumsily knocked off the lab bench? Perhaps you’ve even wandered down the E800 hallway in University Hall and seen the glass filled, overwhelmed and cramped workspace where you’d be afraid to sneeze too loudly for fear of breaking anything. This room is where you’ll find alumnus, instructor and university scientific glass blower, Kris Fischer (BSc ’03, MSc ’05)
“I was what you’d call a butterfingers when I was completing my graduate degree. I’d accidently drop or knock glassware or condensers and have to go and see Luis Delgado who was the university scientific glass blower at the time so he could mend my mistakes. Eventually, he got sick of fixing all of my cracked glassware and taught me how to do it myself! When Luis retired, I was offered the position as I’d been informally apprenticing under Luis for sometime.
“I have a sketchbook which shows all the different types of equipment people have asked me to create over the years. One of the biologists came to me and said, ‘I need to simulate a tiny mountain stream to produce trout eggs’. So I say, ’I think I can do that for you’ and then I need to figure out, ‘how do I actually do that?!’
“My skill set and chemistry education have also come in handy for one of my other passions too. Craft beer brewing. I made a Soxhlet Extractor recently which is an instrument that extracts flavour compounds from almost anything which we are hoping to infuse into the beer. Fruits, vegetables, chocolate, coffee, woods, spices, herbs, you name it really.
“The craft beer business really stemmed from my time as a university student. I didn’t have enough money to drink good beer so I learned how to make my own. Later on down the road, some friends and I were sitting around a campfire drinking some of my brew and someone said, ‘Wow, this is really great! You should sell this!’ And I said well, if you can come up with a business plan, sure! Well, the beer enthusiast was Kelti Boissonneault and now she’s my business partner!
“I’m most looking forward to moving into the new science and academic building once it’s completed. Our chemistry department constantly punches above its weight and it will be wonderful to have a cutting-edge facility where we’re able to put our research on display. The glassblowing workspace will even have a window where people can walk by and see how the scientific glassware is made. Although, that probably means I’ll have a few more broken pieces of glassware to fix.