Thrower’s gift to help Penn State students build research ties with Cambridge

Peter and Carol Thrower will be helping Penn State graduate students conduct research at Cambridge University through the Thrower Endowed Program Fund for Cambridge Studies in Materials Science and Engineering.  Image: Penn State

By David Kubarek [on Penn State News]

December 13, 2016

Peter and Carol Thrower have a unique affinity for both Penn State and the University of Cambridge and, through the Thrower Endowed Program Fund for Cambridge Studies in Materials Science and Engineering, they hope student recipients will, too.

The Penn State endowment will allow a Penn State student to engage in research at Cambridge University and a similar fund set up by the Throwers at Downing College, Cambridge, where Peter was a student, eventually will allow Cambridge students to do the same at Penn State’s University Park campus.

Peter received his bachelor of arts, master of arts and doctorate from Cambridge, where he studied physics before joining the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Materials Science and Engineering Department in 1969. Carol, whose parents are both Penn State graduates, was set on a career in metallurgy years before attending Penn State thanks to two exceptional high school science teachers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  She earned a degree in metallurgy from Penn State in 1974.

“The two ‘systems’ are quite different,” said Peter. “For a student from one university to experience life at the other should be beneficial all-around. Both campuses have new, state-of-the art, materials science research facilities and both universities are located in vibrant, yet rural communities.”

The endowment will provide recipients with a more rounded vision of the world and give them an understanding of how things are done in a different country, said the Throwers, adding that they hope recipients will work on research in metallurgy or carbon science, but other areas of materials science are possible.

“We have made this commitment to provide young scientists at Penn State with an opportunity to experience life as a graduate student at a top university in the United Kingdom,” said the Throwers.

In their permanent legacy, the Throwers see opportunities for university partnerships, too.

Recent renovations to the Steidle Building and the opening of a new Materials Science Building at Cambridge University has sparked their interest in forging cooperation between the two universities. The Throwers hope that their gift can strengthen that cooperation.

Peter joined Penn State’s newly formed materials sciences department, founded by renowned carbon scientist Phil Walker, in 1969 and remained for almost 30 years researching carbon materials. He was appointed editor-in-chief of the international research journal Carbon in 1981 and continued in that role until 2013.

In retirement, Peter assists several carbon research groups and is also still active in many professional carbon societies and gives occasional lectures. He and Carol usually attend the annual World Conference on Carbon, which was held this past July at Penn State. The Throwers are avid gardeners and love to travel.

Penn State’s alumni and friends like the Throwers are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty, enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty, and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University’s colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.