SGT Annual Conference

President of the Society of Glass Technology (SGT) Arun K. Varshneya provides a personal overview of proceedings from the organisation’s 2023 meeting held in September. The full version of this article appears in the Nov/Dec 2023 issue that has been mailed globally and is also now available free of charge in the digital archive (sponsored by FIC)*.

SGT Annual Conference

The Society of Glass Technology’s (SGT) Annual Conference took place over 4–6 September at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, UK and was once again full of highlights, with over 100 presentations packed into the three-day event focused on ‘Sustainability in Glass’.

Wearing the presidential medallion, I welcomed and thanked everyone for attending, before asking all the attending students to rise and be recognised. It was a pleasant surprise to note that 30+ students were in attendance, many of them from overseas. I implored the students to get active in the SGT workings by volunteering their time, and the potential reward? They could be wearing the presidential medallion some day!

Following on from the welcome I introduced Dave Fordham of Glass Worldwide and asked Mr Fordham to connect with the students to get their perspectives on education for tomorrow’s glass industry.

I then introduced the inaugural ‘NL Varshneya Memorial Lecture on Sustainability with Glass’ by presenting a brief introduction entitled: ‘From Agra (India) to Sunderland UK ꟷ in Search of Pyrex’.

NL Varshneya was my father and was the Owner of the Central Scientific Instrument Corporation [a specialist manufacturer and retailer of laboratory glassware, chemicals and instrumentation such as microscopes] in Agra. He travelled to UK in June 1953 and I explained how a meeting with Dr. HSY Gill of glassmaker James A. Joblings, in Sunderland, UK to negotiate a distributorship for Pyrex brand laboratory glassware in India, would later lead me to the Department of Glass technology at University of Sheffield in 1962 and a subsequent internship at Joblings. [Due to his work in the industry], my father also received an invitation and attended HM the Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The rest he says is history.

A personal highlight of this programme was a presentation by Keya Aggarwal of Welham Girls School in Dehradun India, who is the great granddaughter of NL Varshneya (and my granddaughter) and is perhaps the youngest ever presenter (still in high school) of a technical paper in the Society of Glass Technology. The title of the presentation was ‘Packing in PbO-B2O3 and Bi2O3-B2O3 Glasses’, which was advised by Professor Steve Feller of Coe College, Cedar Rapids IA, USA. This means the legacy of my father in the glass profession is being carried by his great-granddaughter along with myself.

Further first day highlights

I then introduced memorial lecturer Dr. Erik Muijsenberg of Glass Service, Czech Republic, who delivered a presentation entitled, ‘Pyrex Furnace – on the road to decarbonisation’. Dr. Muijsenberg earned his PhD from Eindhoven, Netherlands in 1990 and was employed by TNO [Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research] until 1998, when he became the Managing Director of Glass Service B.V. branch office in Maastricht.
In 2000 he moved to the headquarters becoming Group Vice President.

He was a recipient of the Otto Schott Award in 1997; he won the 2012 Adolph Dietzel Industry Award from the Deutsche Glastechnische Gesellschaft, and in 2014 he was elevated to Fellow of SGT (FSGT) by the Society of Glass Technology.

During his presentation, Dr. Muijsenberg showed that by extensive use of computer fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of the main tank and the forehearth, and with the expertise of F.I.C. Ltd UK, Glass Service has now been able to significantly increase the electrification of a Pyrex glass tank at La Maison Française du Verre, Châteauroux, France, in order to reduce carbon emissions from the glass melting process.

Following the conclusion of his lecture, I presented Dr. Muijsenberg with a Cumbrian Crystal glass decanter bearing a suitable SGT inscription as a memento for being the inaugural memorial lecturer.

The morning lectures focused on various aspects of sustainability, with several invited speakers addressing lightweighting of glass containers and [focusing] on glass recycling, which continued into the afternoon. Many of the sustainability presentations were organised by Steve Whettingsteel, CEO of Krystaline Technologies Ltd., and included lively discussions on recovering the carbon in waste glass by converting [it] into alternate product streams.

In the parallel strand covering glass science, the highlight was the Adrian Wright Memorial session organised by his former student and Programme Chair Alex Hannon. Professor Adrian Wright (University of Reading) who passed away earlier in 2023, was a former President and Honorary FSGT of the Society of Glass Technology, but above that was also loved and admired by all. Prof. Wright had established the science of the structure of silicate glass by obtaining high resolution NMR [nuclear magnetic resonance] scattering spectra of glass to show how the SiO4 tetrahedra were bonded.

The sessions were closed with an SGT-sponsored wine reception that made a toast to Prof. Wright’s memory and was attended by his children, Mark and Alice.

The history/heritage programme started on Tuesday afternoon and continued through to Wednesday afternoon. Several glass artists, mostly from overseas, presented their works and their philosophies.

Tuesday’s evening highlights included the NL Varshneya Memorial Reception, sponsored by Saxon Glass Technologies of Alfred New York, USA, and a banquet that followed at Corpus Christie College.

Awards presentation

At the banquet, a host of awards were presented, including the Paul Award, which was won by Aine Black (University of Liverpool) for ‘Investigating the Effect of Lithium Concentration on Radiation Damage in UK Nuclear Waste Base Glasses using NMR and EPR Spectroscopy’, and the David Martlew Prize, earned by Lucas Greiner of Alfred University, USA for ‘Role of Lead in Aventurine Glass Testing Bismuth as Environmentally and Healthy Alternative’.

First place in the 2022 Oldfield Award went to Alfred University’s Jennifer Hunt, for ‘Structural Study of Alkaline Earth Aluminosilicate Glasses by Vibrational Spectroscopy’, with second place awarded to Jessica Lippert (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg) for the ‘Study of the synergistic effects of bioactive glasses with Manuka honey, and third place going to John Bussey of Washington State University for ‘Examining Phase Separation and Crystallisation in Glasses with X-Ray nano-Computed Tomography’.

The Micheal Garvey Award had already been presented at the 17th Furnace Solutions meeting in June 2023 in St. Helens, UK and was given to Sven Roger Kahl of Ardagh Glass.

I then had a lottery to draw a student name to receive a copy of my book, titled ‘Fundamentals of Inorganic Glasses’ [second edition]. This was won by Alexa Shroder of Coe College, USA. In admiration of [her] being the youngest presenter ever, I “risked nepotism” and presented another copy of my book to Ms. Aggarwal.

2023 Fellows

Professor Yuanzheng Yue was presented by Professor Paul Bingham with a request to the President for granting the status of a Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology under Rule 12(b). Professor Yue is currently a Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark and was educated in both China and Berlin, Germany. He is the author of roughly 340 publications covering a wide range of science as well as applied topics on glass. Prof. Yue has given dedicated service to the SGT as a Regional Editor for the journals since 2009.

The final highlight was the recognition of Stuart Hakes to be granted the status of an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology. He was presented to the President by Professor John Parker, himself an Honorary FSGT. Mr Hakes was cited for his years of dedicated and selfless service to the Society as President-Designate and President, his committed role in the Melting Technology Committee and achievements as a successful Chief Executive of a glass technology service business with a focus on electric melting and sustainability.

Second day highlights

A personal highlight on Wednesday afternoon was the Turner Memorial Lecture, ‘Let’s raise a glass to W.E.S Turner!’, delivered by Professor Angela Seddon in a modified form from an earlier delivery at Sheffield University. In a gripping presentation, Prof. Seddon briefly highlighted the life and times of Professor William Ernest Stephen (W.E.S) Turner who was the founder of the Department of Glass Technology at Sheffield University, the Society of Glass Technology and the International Commission on Glass. Prof. Seddon’s lecture described the mid-infrared transmitting glasses which have done much to expand our knowledge of glass science and given us a host of products.

The final highlight on Wednesday afternoon was the presentation by Dr. Hannon of the Dr. Amal Paul Award, a cash prize of £250, to a student with the best presentation. This was awarded to Ms. Aine Black of Bangor University.

Dr. Hannon informed the audience that the 2024 annual meeting of the SGT in Cambridge would be combined with 15th European Glass Society Conference and 15th International Conference on the Structure of Non-Crystalline Materials.

I lastly thanked Dr. Alex Hannon for the outstanding programme organised by himself and his committee. He again reminded the students to volunteer their time in various SGT activities, declared the conference closed, and wished everybody a safe journey home.


Image: Stuart Hakes (left) was awarded the status of an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology by Dr. Arun K. Varshneya.


About the Author: 

Dr. Arun K. Varshneya is President of the Society of Glass Technology and Saxon Glass Technologies, Incorporated

Further Information: 

Society of Glass Technology, Chapeltown, Sheffield, UK
tel: +44 114 2634455

* The full version of this article appears in the Nov/Dec issue that has been mailed globally. The digital version of this issue can also currently be read free of charge in its entirety in the Digital Archive (sponsored by FIC) of over 65 issues of Glass Worldwide at