Glen Slack

Obituary of Glen Slack

Glen Slack, 90, died peacefully at home on June 27, surrounded by loving family. Glen is survived by wife Nancy of 67 years, from student days at Cornell University to the NY Glenville Hills for 55 years. He was the loving father of three children, Mari, David, and Jonathan, and six grandchildren, Rachel, Jacob, Zohe, Eric, Emmett and Jessica. He will also be missed by brothers, Bruce, Joseph, and Thomas Slack; daughters-in-law, Lucy Garbus and Monica Eisenhardt, and nieces and nephews, Amy and Eric Prenowitz, Julie Moore, Sarah and Thomas Slack, Kelly Green, Stuart Slack, Michelle and Duncan Macomber, and all their children. Glen grew up in Syracuse and Cazenovia, NY. He received a PhD in physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a PhD at Cornell University in solid state physics. He worked at four institutions: General Electric Research and Development Center; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Crystal IS, which he co-founded. Glen loved teaching graduate and post-doctoral students, both while at G.E. and at RPI. His interest in the history of science and technology was shared while co-teaching history of science at Russell Sage College with his wife, Dr. Nancy Slack, impersonating famous scientists such as Galileo and Ben Franklin, and replicating their experiments with the students. Glen's research in physics resulted in over 300 scientific publications, 30 patents, several book chapters. He received international recognition for his seminal contributions to the understanding of lattice thermal conductivity in solids. His elucidation of the phonon-glass-electron-crystal concept in thermoelectrics enabled first-principles design of thermoelectric materials and led to the conceptualization, synthesis, and characterization of new thermoelectric alloys. His research in the area of high tempera- ture and pressure crystal growth enabled the first production of bulk single crystal aluminum nitride, which led to th founding of the company Crystal IS. In 2011 he received the International Thermoelectric Society's foundational Outstanding Achievement Award, and gave a keynote speech on the history of research in thermoelectrics. A Guggenheim Fellowship brought Glen and his family to England from 1966-1967 where he joined the Physics Department at Oxford University. He and family went to Gothenburg, Sweden from 1979-1980 for his sabbatical year at Chalmers University of Technology. A GE Coolidge Fellowship brought Glen and Nancy to Connecticut for the 1990-1991 year, where he was a visiting research professor at Yale University. Throughout his life, Glen and Nancy traveled widely, making life long friends across the globe. Following formal retirement, he continued to do theoretical research, much of it with a younger colleague, Kenneth Morgan. Final work on boron-carbon systems had just been completed. Glen enjoyed mountain climbing, backpacking and canoeing in the Adirondacks in his earlier days, and cared deeply about the environment. He was a diligent steward of the family's 47 acres homestead, and was one of the first to work on the preservation of Wolf Hollow, with its botanical, geological, and Native American treasures. His major hobby of 50 years was the restoration of Model A and other early Ford cars; he was an enthusiastic member of the Adirondack A's. Contributions in honor of Glen can be made to his environmental organization, ECOS, Schenectady, NY, to the Nancy and Glen Slack student scholarship fund at Russell Sage College, Troy, NY. or to the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Online memorial thoughts can be sent to

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