Couple creates graduate research fund in honor of former Penn State professor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Katherine Faber, a 1978 Penn State alum, and her husband, Thomas Rosenbaum, established the Guy Rindone Graduate Research Fund to further graduate education in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The fund was established in honor of Guy E. Rindone, professor emeritus of ceramic science and engineering, who died in 2015 at age 93. The new fund is designed to assist graduate students in conducting research related to their theses.

The couple said their gift to support graduate research at Penn State was “an obvious choice” because facilitating discovery has been one of the most rewarding aspects of their careers. It is fitting that Faber will help graduates succeed in the name of the professor who helped her do the same.

“Guy Rindone was my master’s thesis adviser. He instilled in me an appreciation for amorphous materials — glasses — and how they behave. I had the opportunity to make glasses and characterize them with small-angle X-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy, techniques I’ve continued to use throughout my career,” said Faber, adding that glass science is one of her favorite topics to teach.

Rindone was a Penn State faculty member from 1948-1981, and served as chair of the Department of Ceramic Science and Engineering, the predecessor to the current department, for more than a decade.

“We are especially grateful for this gift since support for graduate education is a strategic priority for our department," said Susan Sinnott, professor and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. "It is imperative that we offer remarkable opportunities to bright young minds through graduate fellowship support to allow them to perform innovative, dynamic research. Funds like this enable us to recruit the very best and brightest students into our graduate programs and empower them to become the next generation of innovators and leaders in materials sciences.”

In response to an invitation for advice for Penn State graduate students, the couple offered the following:

“Because a graduate degree program can last a long time, it’s important to choose a project about which you can be passionate, and a group in which you feel comfortable. Then, the time will fly by. Also, be on the lookout for the serendipitous. Many experiments do not turn out as planned. However, they may lead to an entirely new line of research. Having a broad background and perspective will help you recognize those serendipitous discoveries.”

At Caltech, where Faber is the Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science, and Rosenbaum serves as Caltech’s president and professor of physics, they enjoy working closely with promising researchers. The 3-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio allows students to take part in research under the close guidance of faculty.

“We encourage the students to work in a lab, to see if that’s what they are cut out to do, and to experience a different side of campus community in a research group," said Faber. “We both have a long history of having undergraduates in our labs over the summer, with some extending their projects through the years.”

Faber is an expert on ceramic materials and gaining an understanding of fracture and processing methods to improving usage in environmental barrier coatings, energy-related applications and power generation components. She earned her bachelor of science degree in ceramic engineering from Alfred University in 1975, her master of science degree in ceramic sciences from Penn State and her doctorate in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Faber recently received the John Jeppson Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by the American Ceramic Society. Additionally, she worked with the Art Institute of Chicago to establish the Northwestern University-Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts, where advanced materials characterization and analytical techniques enrich conservation science.

Rosenbaum received his bachelor of science degree in physics with honors from Harvard in 1977, and a master's degree in 1979 and doctorate in 1982, both in physics, from Princeton University. He is an expert on the quantum mechanical nature of materials, researching the physics of electronic, magnetic and optical materials at the atomic level.

The couple has also provided support for undergraduate students. In 2011, Faber and Rosenbaum established the Robert G. and Agnes M. Faber Scholarship for Materials Science and Engineering designed to support undergraduate students.

Penn State’s alumni and friends like Faber and Rosenbaum are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty, enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty, and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University’s colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.

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Last Updated February 14, 2017