by Mark Davis, Ulrich Fotheringham, Kathleen A. Richardson, L. David Pye

Alexander J. Marker III, 1947–2019

Alexander J. Marker III, Ph.D. passed away on February 21, 2019, leaving behind numerous technical accomplishments, friends, colleagues and well-recognized contributions to the optical materials field.

Marker led the research and development (R&D) activities at Schott North America, Duryea, Pa., for almost 30 years, prior to his retirement in 2011. Marker’s time in this role was noted by not only his extraordinary personality, but also his scientific acumen, which provided both the company and his employees with numerous accolades and scientific advances. Under his leadership, Marker and the R&D team were extremely successful, particularly in managing scientifically challenging projects like continuous laser glass melting. The development of the according process earned Schott Glass Technologies Inc. a R&D 100 award in 2001.

The challenges with the production activities that contributed Nd:doped phosphate laser glass to the construction of both the NIF laser facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the CEA Megajoule program in Bordeaux, France, presented opportunities for Marker to address issues related to his experience and background. A physicist by training with a Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University, following B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Scranton, Marker discussed and addressed difficult thermodynamic and kinetic topics encountered in his day-to-day work. However tough it became, and however deep his coworkers would need to dig into glass theory, Marker would never stop the scientific dispute. He kept an open ear for any good argument welcoming the chance to raise the level of technical excellence through thoughtful discussions and experimental research into the underlying issues of complex problems.

As someone dedicated to the scientific community, Marker was a member of, and served on, various professional society committees, was a frequent session organizer and chair at technical conferences, giving many talks himself at various meetings. Marker was a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and SPIE, honors that acknowledged his cross-cutting excellence in bridging optical glass science and technology. Moreover, Marker nurtured and supported those on his staff who also had interest in professional society activities.

A natural mentor, Marker blended the toughness of a manager with the kindness and thoughtful support of a guide to junior researchers. Teaching not only hard science but the soft skills of working in a global corporation, Marker had the respect of not only colleagues within all parts of Schott but also across laboratories, universities and a variety of research labs around the world.

But this was only one facet of Marker. Another was the Alex Marker with whom we toured the wine-growing area around Mainz, Germany, near the headquarters of Schott AG. There, we saw the humorous man who could laugh so heartily about small issues, finding the humor in most situations.

As a fair weather fisherman, Marker enjoyed seeking out his next big catch, as long as the weather was “just so.” He enjoyed model railroading and was an exceptional carpenter. A “people person,” he loved telling jokes and making people laugh, but, most importantly, he loved his family and would do anything to help them when needed.

Dedication to science, strong management skills, and a deeply humane attitude towards his coworkers—it is difficult to find the combination of all these three in one person. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with him.

Mark Davis
Senior Principal Scientist
SCHOTT North America Inc., Duryea, Pennsylvania, United States

Ulrich Fotheringham
Senior Principal Scientist
SCHOTT AG, Germany, Mainz, Germany

Kathleen A. Richardson
Former Manager, R&D Materials and Technologies groups, SCHOTT North America, Duryea, Pennsylvania, (2001-2003)
Pegasus Professor of Optics and Materials Science and Engineering
University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida

L. David Pye
Member, Board of Directors
SCHOTT North America, Duryea, Pennsylvania (1997 – 2002)
Dean and Professor of Glass Science, Emeritus
The NY State College of Ceramics, Alfred University