North Texas

University of North Texas Glass Blower Melds Art With Science

Tucked in a windowless room in the science building at the University of North Texas, Roger Ramirez and his glass lab are involved in nearly every science experiment -- but he is not a scientist.

"I'm a Master Scientific Glass Blower," Ramirez said. "If it's repairable, I can fix it. If it's beyond repair, I make a new one."

Ramirez makes the beakers and tubes and custom glassware for science experiments in the many labs at UNT, as well as UT Dallas, UT San Antonio, and UT Southwestern. 

His love for the craft started as a 17-year-old high school dropout. His parents sent him to visit an uncle in Mexico, who blew glass. 

"When I saw the torch, something told me that was for me," Ramirez recalled, walking into his first glass-blowing lab. "I believe in destiny because it changed my life."

Ramirez is one of few university glass blowers who works on site, which helps when glassware breaks.

"Yes, that's where it really helps to have Roger on site," said Paul Marshall, professor of chemistry. His lab is working on climate change experiments. "Anytime something went wrong, we would probably be held up for weeks."

Instead, the downtime is a day at a fraction of the cost.

Dealing with fire and glass all day long is not without hazards, though.

"I cut myself, like, once or twice a month," said Ramirez. "I tried to get my fingerprints for my passport, and I was told I don't have much fingerprints."

That's because he's left his fingerprints in his lab, on the glassware that makes the science experiments possible. 

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