Mar. 11, 2012

Pittcon 2012: Science, Sun, Societies

  • Jon Peace, President Pittcon 2012, Manager Product Safety, Alcoa, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USAJon Peace, President Pittcon 2012, Manager Product Safety, Alcoa, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Pittcon 2012, March 11-15: It is warm in Florida, even in March. This, for sure, isn't the most important reason for Pittcon to choose Orlando again as venue for the 2012 event. But it is, indeed another good argument for attending the worlds' biggest annual conference and exhibition in the field of laboratory equipment and technology.

Besides its dozens of gigantic theme parks, Orlando is perfect for shopping and the Orlando-area offers a lot of exciting possibilities for spending a few days on vacation. Within a 100 mile radius you can visit the Atlantic coast or the Gulf of Mexico, Florida swamps or Cape Canaveral. No matter whether you want to see Eagles, Alligators or space crafts, you can find it in Florida.

We talked to Jon Peace, Pittcons President 2012, on Pittcon, science and his career.

G.I.T. Laboratory-Journal: In 1984 you visited Pittcon for the first time, what are the most obvious differences between your first Pittcon and today?

J. Peace: The most immediately apparent difference is in the instruments and other laboratory equipment on the Exposition floor. In 1984, computerization and automation was limited. The equipment today is highly automated and has a smaller footprint. PCs are being replaced with iPads and other notebooks. Capabilities have increased dramatically.

Equally significant has been the change in the Technical Program. Since 1986, the number of technical papers not only has doubled, but has diversified to include more on such fields such as nanotechnology, homeland security, biomedical, biomass, pharmaceutical, environmental, food science, and life science and as a result, we attract a broader, more diverse conferee and exhibitor base. We have added a large number of well attended Short Courses and Conferee Networking Sessions, where conferees have a forum for an open discussion of their issues and problems.

Certainly as technology impacts every industry, Pittcon is no exception.

The internet, electronic devices, and digital innovations have changed the way we disseminate information about the conference. We can do offer more, run faster, reach out further,-all of which contribute to making Pittcon more of a global event and enables us to continue to add value to the conferee and exhibitor experience.

In the past few years Pittcon was very busy in advancing the show, what is new in 2012?

J. Peace: We continually strive to add value to the Pittcon experience for our conferees, as well as our exhibitors. This year, we have added a Capstone Lecture to our program which will be presented by Steven R. Benner, Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, entitled Redesigning DNA: Fixing God's Mistakes.The Capstone Lecture is intended to be a scientific presentation with a broader appeal than the focused Plenary Lecture that starts off the Technical Program on Sunday.The lecture will be followed by a complimentary mixer.

Also new for 2012 is the Undergraduate Poster Session which will be held Monday, March 12, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. The purpose of this session is to provide a forum in which undergraduate students can share research presentations with their peers and to encourage networking among undergraduate students. Also in posters for the first time, we are introducing electronic posters. We are very pleased this year to offer an improved Pittcon 2012 Mobile App that is essentially the entire technical program, short courses, and exhibitor information with searching capabilities available for iOS and Android devices for use before, during, and after the event at no charge.

Following in line with our message this year of "get connected," we have implemented a new online networking service for our international attendees which will be available in the International Visitors Center. Conferees can enter their contact information and then search for other attendees by country and connect with them through their preferred method of communication, i.e., email, skype, phone, etc.

Pittcon spends most its earnings for grants, awards and the support of scientific education. What are the projects that will be supported with the 2012 earnings?

J. Peace: The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy is the non-profit organization that organizes and produces Pittcon, the world's largest annual conference and exposition for laboratory science. The two societies, Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP) and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, sponsor the yearly conference and exposition. Proceeds from Pittcon help us to achieve our mission "Our mission is to sponsor and sustain educational and charitable activities for the advancement and benefit of scientific endeavor."

By funding science education and outreach at all levels, kindergarten through adult in Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania, and surrounding areas, as well as local areas in and around the host city. Outreach programs include science education through workshops and seminars for students and teachers and grant programs for schools and colleges to purchase scientific equipment.
Each year in the host city, Pittcon offers Science Week, an outreach and support program that promotes science education from elementary through high school levels. Science Week includes free teacher and student workshops, a demonstration/lecture for high school students, and a grant program.

Teacher workshops are presented by leading educators and scientists and cover a wide range of topics specific to elementary, middle, and high school science. Teachers who attend receive Professional Learning Units (PLU's) and will also receive supplies and materials, so that they can immediately implement the principles and activities demonstrated in the workshops.

Student workshops are also available to elementary and middle school students. 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.
On Thursday of Conference Week, Lee Marek from the University of Chicago will present a special lecture and demonstration, "Weird Science on Fuels and Energy." This program will feature science education in a very unique way so as to capture the interest of high school students.

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 $1000 each to any school within a 150 mile radius of Orlando.
Each year, together with its co-sponsoring technical societies, SACP and SSP, and funded by the Pittcon event, these societies award The Pittsburgh Conference Memorial National College Grants (PCMNCG) to small college science departments. The awards are up to $10,000 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.

The award program has grown over the years to include 10 - 12 colleges that meet the necessary size and budgetary requirements to receive grants up to $10,000. As of 2011, 312 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:

Starter Grant Awards
The SACP/SSP Starter Grant Awards are given to encourage high-quality, innovative research by beginning chemistry professors. The goal of the grants is to promote the training and development of graduate students in the fields of spectroscopy and analytical chemistry. Two $40,000 awards will be granted in 2012: one award from the SACP in the area of analytical chemistry and one award from the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh in the area of spectroscopy.

2012 Undergraduate Analytical Research Program (UARP) Grant
The Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh will award a grant of $10,000 to promote high-quality, innovative undergraduate research in the field of analytical chemistry. The objective of this grant is to promote training and development of undergraduate students in the field of analytical chemistry.

K-8 Excellence in Science Teaching Award
The SSP accepts nominations for teachers for the Excellence in Science Teaching Award. The program is open to any teacher Grades K-8 within Allegheny and surrounding county schools of the SSP membership area. The award consists of a plaque and $1,000 honorarium.

Keivin Burns Outstanding High School Science Teacher Award
The award is named after Keivin Burns, an outstanding astronomer, spectroscopist, and teacher at the Allegheny Observatory and the University of Pittsburgh. The purpose of the award is to recognize excellence in teaching of science at the secondary school level. The awardee(s) will be presented with a plaque and a $1,250 honorarium.

The two societies also donate money to outreach programs such as National Chemistry Week, local science centers, and museums. One of the grants is scholarship money to send underprivileged children to a local college to attend a week long summer camp called Kids College, which covers topics such as robotics and forensics.

What do you expect to be the most important news, techniques and instrumentations in the laboratory field at Pittcon 2012?

J. Peace: I would expect the most significant news and innovations in laboratory science will be in the life science sector specifically in genomics and proteomics in the form of testing, mapping, and modeling and in field of drug discovery and development for finding new medicines to treat diseases and find cures.As technology advances and world challenges continue, we will experience innovations in techniques and instrumentation in food science specifically improved methods of not only growing more crops but improved crops, sustainability and renewable energy, and environmental issues.

What are your expectations for the development of the laboratory business in the next decade?

J. Peace: I can only comment from an industrial perspective. I believe that companies will continue pressure to reduce costs while requiring enhanced service. Therefore, laboratories will need to reduce the cost of analyses while increasing their portfolio of capabilities. Also, they will need to provide value-added services on top of their normal analytical suite to make them stand out. The equipment and training required for these services can be found at the Pittsburgh Conference.

Pittcon honors scientists from industry and academia for outstanding contributions. Who are the awardees in 2012?

J. Peace: Yes, an important function of Pittcon is to recognize and honor scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. This year, we have 11 award recipients. Each award will be presented during a symposium at Pittcon 2012, March 11-15, at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida. This year‘s awards will recognize scientists using methodologies such as vibrational and infrared spectroscopy; ion, liquid, and gas chromatography; separation science; nanotechnology; bioanalytical chemistry; electrochemistry; microscopy, portable instruments; and mass spectrometry.

We are very honored that our former (2010) Plenary Lecturer Alan G. Marshall from Florida State University will receive the 2012 Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award. This award acknowledges Marshall‘s contributions to the field of analytical chemistry through his continuing development of Fourier transform ICR mass spectrometry. His current research spans FT-ICR instrumentation development, fossil fuels and environmental analysis, and mapping the primary and higher-order structures of biological macromolecules and their complexes. Other awards include:

Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award
W. E. (William Esco) Moerner, Stanford University, will receive the 2012 Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award presented by the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP). The SSP Award, established in 1957, honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the field of spectroscopy.

Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award
Christy L. Haynes, University of Minnesota, will receive the 2012 Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award. This award, sponsored jointly by the Pittsburgh Conference and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP), recognizes individuals who have made outstanding achievements within ten years after completion of the Ph.D. work.

ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award for Young Investigators in Separation Science
Jared L. Anderson, University of Toledo, will receive the 2012 ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award for Young Investigators in Separation Science. The award, sponsored by Agilent Technologies and administered by the Analytical Division of the American Chemical Society, recognizes and encourages outstanding contributions to the field of separation science by a young chemist or chemical engineer within ten years of their highest degree.

Bomem-Michelson Award the Coblentz Society/ABB
Joel M. Harris, University of Utah, will receive the 2012 Bomem-Michelson Award, of the Coblentz Society/ABB for his research in analytical laser spectroscopy. The Coblentz Society presents the Bomem-Michelson Award, which is dedicated to the memory of Professor A.E. Michelson, developer of the Michelson Interferometer. ABB sponsors the annual award to honor a scientist who has advanced the technique(s) of vibrational, molecular, Raman or electronic spectroscopy.

Dal Nogare Award
Purnendu K. (Sandy) Dasgupta, University of Texas at Arlington, will receive the 2012 Dal Nogare Award for 2012, presented by The Chromatography Forum of Delaware Valley (CFDV), for his outstanding work in the field of chromatography. An awardee is chosen on the basis of his or her contributions to the fundamental understanding of the chromatographic process. Established in honor of Stephen Dal Nogare who died in 1968 after serving six months as President of the Forum.

Charles N. Reilley Award (SEAC)
Debra Rolison,Naval Research Laboratory, will receive the 2012 Charles N. Reilley Award in Electroanalytical Chemistry, sponsored and presented by the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry (SEAC).

Young Investigator Award (SEAC)
Lane Baker, Indiana University, will receive the 2012 Young Investigator Award, presented annually by the Society for Electronanalytical Chemistry (SEAC).

Ralph N. Adams Award
Jonathan V. Sweedler, University of Illinois, will receive the 2012 Ralph N. Adams Award in Bioanalytical Chemistry sponsored by the Pittsburgh Conference and the Friends of Ralph N. Adams. The award was established to honor an outstanding scientist who has advanced the field of Bioanalytical chemistry through research, innovation and/or education.

Williams Wright Award - The Coblentz Society
Richard Crocombe, Thermo Fisher Scientific, will receive the 2012 Williams Wright Award from the Coblentz Society. The award is presented annually at Pittcon to an industrial spectroscopist who has made significant contributions to vibrational spectroscopy while working in industry.

Pittsburgh was one of the most important areas of the US heavy industry. This industry needs analytical laboratories. What are thedevelopments inthe economic landscape of the Pittsburgh area in the past two decades?

J. Peace: With the collapse of the steel industry, the city population decreased by half with residents either leaving to go to another city or relocating in the suburbs. In the past 20 years, Pittsburgh has made a transition from one of heavy industry to services, high technology, science, and biomedical sectors.This change has led to a need for bio-analytical capabilities - in essence a change from small molecule analyses to large molecule analyses.

What are your research interests?

J. Peace: My interests have been focused in the area of industrial hygiene since joining the Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability group at Alcoa. A current area of interest is in the detection and analysis of airborne engineered nanoparticles. Standardized methods are not currently available and background levels of naturally occurring ultrafine particles make measurements extremely difficult.

Please give us an overview over your career.

J. Peace: I graduated with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the Pennsylvania State University and received a Master in Biochemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. From 1979 to 1981, I worked at the Frederick Cancer Research Center on Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, in the Biological Markers Division. My work involved developing methods for the analysis of chemotherapy drugs undergoing human testing in the blood and urine of patients. In 1981, I started at Alcoa Inc., in the Environmental Health Laboratory analyzing of industrial hygiene samples. In 1995, I moved into a regulatory position and am currently Manager Product Safety. I have been an active member of the Pittcon organizing committee since 1986 serving as chairman for committees such as Exposition, Registration, Transportation, Publicity, Activities, Security, and Communications Technology.

More Information on all awards one may find here.

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