Celebrating staff: Meet Jason Dibbs

Meet Jason Dibbs, scientific glassblower in the University of Alberta's Department of Chemistry.

Katie Willis - 04 December 2019

The glass shop, tucked away in the basement Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre, is mesmerizing-from the flames used to heat and manipulate the glass, to the many apparatuses laid delicately across work surfaces. This space is home to Jason Dibbs, scientific glassblower in the University of Alberta's Department of Chemistry.

Dibbs' speciality is building custom glass structures for scientists across the University of Alberta's campus. These handmade creations are critical for researchers working in laboratory settings.

Dibbs, who has worked at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science for more than a decade, is one of more than 300 staff members in the faculty. The countless and invaluable contributions of this group make the world go round in the Faculty of Science, and we are thrilled to introduce you.

Meet Jason Dibbs.

Job title and area:

Scientific Glassblower, Department of Chemistry

How long have you worked at the Faculty of Science?

11 years.

What's a typical day like for you?

I fabricate, modify, and repair research glassware for scientists across campus. I meet with clients and create glass apparatus to their unique specifications or repair items that can save money and reduce downtime. Utilizing a variety of natural gas and oxygen torches, I heat and manipulate borosilicate (Pyrex) and quartz glass. The molten glass is shaped by hand or with the assistance of a specialized glass lathe. Items created throughout the day are placed in an annealing oven and heated to 560 degrees before being allowed to cool gradually for optimal strength.

What's the most common question people ask you about your job?

People unfamiliar with the many unique types of research glassware will ask if I make beakers and test tubes. While I can construct low cost items such as these, unless they are required to have unique characteristics, it is usually better to purchase mass produced standard glassware.

Favourite memory from work?

I feel fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with and learn from the glassblowers who filled my position until their retirement.

Favourite place on campus?

I am happiest in the glass shop in the basement of the Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre.

Favourite thing about working at the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta?

The confluence of a handmade traditional craft and research in new and exciting technology and science. It is rewarding when glassware I fabricated is appreciated by researchers and facilitates their work.

What would you do for work if you didn't do this?

If I was not glassblowing, I think I would like to spend my time outdoors on a ranch.