Doug Allan was a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he was frustrated.
It was 1982, and he was studying electronic structure methods, density functional theory, and subjects related to quantum mechanics. He loved it. But he worried that his technical papers would only be read by other theorists and not have practical impact.
Doug wanted to find an area of work with practical significance. He began to lean toward a career using his physics training in industry. “I thought I'd go to industry for a couple of years and see how that worked, and then I'd follow the conventional path of becoming a professor somewhere,” Doug said. “I wanted to have some exposure to industry and the practical applications of math and physics.”
Two years later, Doug was doing post-doctorate work at the University of Pennsylvania – and Corning contacted him. Doug knew nothing about the company, other than it was a name on the back of dishes.
He had the chance to interview for a position at Corning working in electronic structure methods.
“I didn’t think they would hire me,” Doug said, “so I treated it like a practice interview, thinking that I would have to interview at a lot of places to actually get a job.”
Doug may not have been confident going in, but his relaxed and level-headed attitude allowed him to connect with his interviewers. Ultimately, the job was his.
Doug originally intended to stay with Corning for only a few years to experience the practical applications of equations and models. Nearly four decades later, he is a leader in the research community, known for always learning, adapting his skills, and collaborating with colleagues as they pursue answers to scientific questions together.
He has also reached one of the highest levels of distinction in the technical organization, becoming a Senior Research Associate in 2002 and a Research Fellow in 2013.