Feb. 13, 2015

Pittcon 2015 in New Orleans: Crescent City

  • Charles Holifield, Pittcon President 2015Charles Holifield, Pittcon President 2015

Pittcon 2015 will take place from 6 - 12 March in New Orleans.

Located on the crescent shaped southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain at the Mississippi river in Louisiana, New Orleans is amongst the most famous cities in the USA. French settlers built the first houses in the area known as French Quarter nowadays French Quarter today. Tragically New Orleans is strongly endangered by its very existence. Built on hundreds of meters thick layer of mud, the weight of the mud and the city compresses itself and the area therefore slowly sinks. This effect was dramatically increased by the dams built by the settlers and by the US Army. Today, 70 % of New Orleans lies 1,6 m below the sea level and sinks about 8 mm a year. In comparison, Venice in Italy sinks 1 - 2 mm a year.

Katrina, the devastating Hurricane which caused dramatic damage in August 2005, forced almost half the citizens (454.863 in 2005; 223.388 in 2006) to leave their hometown. In 2012 New Orleans had 369.250 citizens.

The cultural impact of the French settlers is omnipresent. New Orleans' flair and ambience is unique. Pittcon 2015 is one additional good reason to visit New Orleans. I hope to see you there from 6 - 12 March, at Pittcon or later in the evening at the "café du monde" or at Bourbon Street where people find a place to meet each night from dusk ‘til dawn.

One longstanding tradition is the G.I.T. Laboratory Journal Interview with Pittcon's President telling you what's new and exciting and why you should come to the Big Easy.

Laboratory Journal: What are the educational projects and grants Pittcon will support with its revenues this year?

Charles Holifield: Pittcon donates more than a million dollars a year to provide support for various science outreach activities at all levels, kindergarten through adult, including science equipment grants, research grants, scholarships and internships for students, awards to teachers and professors, and grants to public science centers, libraries and museums.

This year, in New Orleans, Pittcon will offer Science Week, a program that promotes science education from elementary through high school levels.

Science Week includes free teacher and student workshops by leading educators and scientists, a demonstration/lecture for high school students, and a grant program.

Teachers who attend receive supplies and materials, so that they can immediately implement the principles and activities demonstrated in the workshops. Attendance at one or more of the teacher workshops entitles a teacher to apply for a grant to purchase science-related teaching materials for their school. These grants may be as much as $1,000 each to any school within a 150 mile radius of New Orleans.

At student workshops participants rotate through a set of six hands-on workshops that cover such topics as gases, acid/base reactions, chromatography, electrochemistry, astronomy, and light and color.

The Pittsburgh Conference Memorial National College Grants (PCMNCG) awards 10-12 small college science departments each year. The awards are up to $10,000 each for the purchase of scientific equipment, audio-visual, teaching aids, and/or library materials for use in the teaching of science at the undergraduate level for colleges and universities throughout the United States. As of 2014, approximately 350 grants have been awarded through PCMNCG since its inception in 1974.

In addition to this award, Pittcon generates over $1 million dollars for the SSP and the SACP to provide grants and awards such as elementary/middle school, high school, and college equipment grants in western Pennyslvania and parts of Ohio & West Virginia to teachers who teach science in grades K-12 and college/university professors.

Other SSP & SACP grants/awards include (but not limited to):
Starter Grant Awards, which are given to encourage high-quality, innovative research by beginning chemistry professors. Two $40,000 awards were granted in 2014: one award from the SACP in the area of analytical chemistry and one award from the SSP in the area of spectroscopy.

Teachers who directly or indirectly employ spectroscopy in their curriculum are eligible to apply for the High School Equipment Grant (HSEG).
The purpose of the College Equipment Grants (CEGP) is to contribute to science programs at colleges and universities with enrollments of no more than 7,500 undergraduate students. The grant is to be used for the purchase of new instrumentation or to upgrade existing instrumentation, accessories and equipment related to the study of spectroscopy.

Laboratory Journal: What are the outstanding scientific achievements Pittcon will award in 2015 and who are the awardees?

Charles Holifield: One of the most significant aspects of the Pittcon Technical Program is to honor scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. This year, we have 14 prestigious awards including two new ones: The "LCGC Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Leader in Chromatography" awarded to Joseph Jack Kirkland, for his work with HPLC; the other is "The Emerging Leader in Chromatography", to Caroline West, University of Orleans. Caroline is devoted to improving the understanding of chromatographic chiral and achiral separations to facilitate method development.

Awards to highlight achievements in the field of chromatography include: The Pittcon Heritage Award, will be awarded to A.Blaine Bowman, a pioneer in the commercialization of ion chromatography. The Recipient of the "Chromatography Forum of the Delaware Valley Dal Nogare Award" will be Mark R. Schure, whose contributions to separation science in 2D chromatography, chromatographic mechanism, capillary electrophoresis and field-flow fractionation.

Dwight R. Stoll, will receive the "ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award for Young Investigators in Separation Sciences Award" for developments in two-dimensional liquid chromatography (2D-LC)

A sampling of additional awards include:
Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award:
Ryan C. Bailey, for high information content bioanalysis at the level of genomics, transciptomics, proteomics, and.

Charles N. Reilley Award:
Hubert Girault. His research interests span many aspects of electrochemistry from charge transfer reactions at soft interfaces to electrochemical imaging and new electrochemical ionization techniques for mass spectrometry. 

Royce W. Murray Award:
Thomas Hamann. His research focuses on understanding electron-transfer and photocatalytic reactions at semiconductor surfaces.

Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award:
Andrew G. Ewing. His group has pioneered chemical measurements at single cells; capillary electrophoresis, electrochemical imaging, biological mass spectrometry imaging, and new electrochemical strategies to quantify the contents of nanometer transmitter vesicles.

The Coblentz Society/ABB - Bomem-Michelson Award:
David Jonas, for his pioneering work in phase-resolved nonlinear optics and his exploitation of that work to demonstrate femtosecond two-dimensional Fourier transform (2D FT) spectroscopy.

Ralph N. Adams Award:
John R. Yates. For integrated methods for tandem mass spectrometry analysis of protein mixtures, bioinformatics using mass spectrometry data, and biological studies involving proteomics.

Laboratory Journal: What are the new features to make Pittcon 2015 even more exciting and attractive than the former events?

Charles Holifield: Pittcon is proud to participate in the celebration as an Associate Sponsor of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL) 2015. As part of this initiative, Ocean Optics will be sponsoring an exciting interactive display, "Timeline of Light Technologies" in Lobby B1.The display will show the history of light technologies over the years and bring awareness for the problem solving potential of light technology.

To complement the more than 200 technical sessions covering topics related to mass spectroscopy, there will be two special symposia for the IYL on March 9.
In addition to the New Exhibitor and LIMS pavilions, there will be a new specialized area on the exposition floor, the Food Section.

To help attendees manage their schedule and time, a mobile app, Pittcon 2015, is available for free download for iOS and Android mobile devices. New for this year, is a gaming feature where conferees scan QR codes at various locations for points for prizes. Details are available on the mobile app.

Laboratory Journal: What are the most important innovations we will find in New Orleans?

Charles Holifield: I suspect that a majority of the innovations will be in the field on nanotechnology as it applies to new applications for miniature instruments. Additionally, new applications for mass spectrometry particularly in the life sciences will be emphasized in the technical sessions. The latest research and findings in areas such as genomics and cancer research will also be a hot topic this year. As food safety and food sustainability continues to be a global issue, the innovations in equipment and technology used to measure, monitor and analyze will be of particular interest to our attendees in the food science sector.

Laboratory Journal: What makes New Orleans perfect as venue?

Charles Holifield: New Orleans is centrally located with a walkable downtown and world class convention facilities. In addition to the warm climate, rich European traditions, exceptional cuisine and unique nightlife, Louisiana is home to business in chemicals and refining; emerging prospects of biofuels and bioprocessing and emerging and expanding companies in the agribusiness and food processing industries. As the state becomes a water management hub, the talent and resources of academia, business and government are converging to form world-class think tanks, laboratories and research.

Laboratory Journal: What is your motivation to work so many hours as a volunteer for Pittcon?

Charles Holifield: The volunteers, for the most part, whether retired from or currently employed in some aspect of science, realize the positive impact that these important disciplines have on our everyday lives. Therefore, we all feel somewhat compelled to share and foster this interest to help attract and give every opportunity to the brightest and best to excel in this field.

I believe that most other committee members will agree with me when I say that it is a privilege to be selected as a volunteer. The group provides a unique network for professional and social support. While it is true that serving on a committee is a huge commitment, there are also many rewards, as well. Learning new skills and acquiring administrative and technical information from serving on the different committees can be carried over, not only in the workplace, but also in day-to-day activities.

And finally, I think there is a certain level of satisfaction and pride one feels experiences with a job well done and knowing that you were part of the planning process of such a significant, global event that brings together thousands of members of the scientific community.

Laboratory Journal: Please tell us about your scientific background and career.

Charles Holifield: I attended the University of Texas in Austin where I earned a B.S. in Chemistry and an MS in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. I worked for PPG Industries for 37 years in various locations starting as a research chemist and concluding as a senior research associate supervising Analytical Instrumental Analysis for the PPG Chemicals Group Research Laboratory in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. I am currently retired and live in a Pittsburgh suburb.

Laboratory Journal: What are the numbers concerning visitor registration, booth space, and presentations at Pittcon 2015?

Charles Holifield: Pittcon typically attracts 16 -18,000 attendees with approximately 25% from outside the United States. This year, the expo will offer instrumentation from 900 companies from 30 countries. We are pleased to welcome over more than 100 first time exhibitors.
Our diverse Technical Program offers more than 2,000 technical sessions included in symposia, oral presentations, workshops, awards and posters.

Laboratory Journal: If these numbers are compared to those of former events, what are the trends?

Charles Holifield: In the past several years, there has been a 10% decrease in exhibitor personnel attending the show which may be attributed to decreases in company travel budgets. From a conferee prospective, we are trending close to previous years' numbers and anticipate at least a 10% increase in attendance when compared to 2014.

We continue to maintain a diverse program presented by world-renowned scientists. The emphasis this year will be on fuels, energy and petroleum, as these are the prevalent industries of Louisiana, Texas and the Gulf Coast area. Another important trend in the program is an increase in sessions covering subjects related to food science, as well as life science. Life science topics comprise approximately 40% of the current program.



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