Vital Vials
Corning’s Laura Cook ’10, M’11 ensures safe delivery of the COVID vaccine
by Matt Hughes
In the relay race for the cure for COVID-19, vaccine development is just the first leg. Those vaccines still need to be manufactured in astronomical quantities, packaged for delivery and injected into arms around the world before crossing the finish line of global immunity.

Laura Cook ’10, M’11, a chemical engineering major and materials engineer for glass manufacturer Corning Inc., now holds a baton in the relay. As Corning ramps up its production of vials to contain this precious cargo, Cook is working not only to help meet a worldwide demand for more than 1 billion vials, but also to identify ways to accelerate critical stages of the race including vial manufacturing and fill/finish, where the drug is put into containers.

“Corning is proud to do its part in combating COVID-19,” she says. “Knowing that my contribution is helping drive toward that common goal gives me a great sense of pride and purpose.”

Laura Cook headshot
Photo: Donald D. Constance
At Bucknell, Laura Cook ’10, M’11 built the skills to confront COVID by taking on another of the world’s most pressing challenges, climate change.
Cook helped develop a process for coating the exterior surface of Corning’s Valor Glass vials that smooths the motion of the containers as they’re rushed down the production line to be filled, sealed and packaged. Spread across hundreds of millions of vials, the microseconds saved each time vials touch add up, meaning production lines can run at higher speeds, potentially increasing the available manufacturing capacity for one of the world’s most in-demand resources.

Research with Professor Tim Raymond, chemical engineering, on climate change led directly to Cook’s first job with Corning on an optical-fiber project. While presenting her work at a Homecoming research poster session, Cook connected with mechanical engineering alumnus Dan Hawtof ’88, M’89, a researcher and now fellow at Corning. A phone call and interview soon followed.

Cook opens similar doors to Bucknell students today by mentoring engineering majors and serving on the Engineering Alumni Association Board, where she helps guide student design projects drawn from real research initiatives at Corning — experiences that often lead even more directly to jobs.