SCETV host Rowland P. Alston, left, presents The Mary Francis Poole Alston Award, which he created to honor his grandmother, to Dr. Lisa Brodhacker, assistant professor of chemistry at Lander University. Lander President Daniel Ball, right, added his congratulations to Brodhacker.
Lander University associate professor of chemistry Dr. Lisa Brodhacker has been chosen to receive The Mary Frances Poole Alston Award, which is presented to a faculty or staff member for providing visibility for Lander throughout the state of South Carolina, the United States and the world.
Rowland P. Alston, host of the Emmy-winning SCETV horticulture and gardening show "Making It Grow," created the prize to honor his grandmother, Mary Frances Poole Alston, a member of Lander's 1914 graduating class.
In addition to her work as a classroom teacher, Brodhacker has been working for several years on a scientific process to produce lightweight parabolic epoxy mirrors for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In 2009, under her direction, Lander entered into a contractual agreement with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop mirrors for near-Earth and deep-space laser communications. According to Brodhacker, the epoxy mirrors are less expensive to manufacture, require less preparation time and can be made into large mirrors that weigh less than those made from glass.
In presenting the award, Lander President Daniel Ball said astronomers are interested in the mirrors made in Brodhacker's lab for deep-space research and portable solar power. The first portable unit, a joint project between Lander and California Polytechnic State University, will be showcased in November.
Seven Lander students who worked with Brodhacker on the mirror project have presented their research at conferences, and several have published papers and book chapters related to their work.
Ball said that in June of 2013, astronomers and engineers from around the world will come to Lander for the fist Lander Lightweight Mirror Workshop, part of the Alt-Az Telescope Initiative for Lightweight Optics. Several students are expected to take part in that conference.