Pittcon 2020: The City of Chicago overview

As we edged towards Spring in 2020, the City of Chicago saw thousands of attendees gather for this year’s Pittcon conference at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, between March 1st and March 5th.


Image Credit:Shutterstock/RudyBalasko

As the world’s premier annual meeting for laboratory scientists, this busy exposition provided a unique opportunity for anyone who works in the fields of physical or chemical analyses to be updated about the most recent innovations and solutions in laboratory science.

Offering technical lectures, skill-building short courses and symposiums for all to attend, McCormick Place was host to exhibitors from a total of 90 countries presenting the latest information on laboratory instrumentation.

A total of 950 exhibitors showcased their products to 20,000 attendees who also had the opportunity to participate in demos and talk to technical experts across a diverse range of methodologies, applications, and topics relevant to the world of analytical chemistry.

Discover some of the highlights of this year’s Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy.

Keynote speakers

This year’s Wallace H. Coulter Lecture, entitled “Soft, Skin-Interfaced Microfluidic Systems for Capture and Analysis of Sweat,” was presented by physics and chemistry Professor, John Rogers from Northwestern University. An expert in nano- and molecular-scale materials, Rogers discussed the mismatch in physical properties between mechanically soft and complex 3D biological systems and the rigid electronic and microfluidic technologies with static 2D layouts that are used in research and development.


Professor John Rogers from Northwestern University delivering the Wallace H Coulter Lecture

Eliminating this mismatch would generate great opportunities for developing systems that can be elegantly integrated with the human body for diagnostic, therapeutic or surgical approaches with unique capabilities for applications in clinical health cases, sports, and fitness.

The last decade has seen the emergence of novel biocompatible electronic and microfluidics systems that possess skin-like properties and Rogers discussed some of the latest devices, including battery-free, wireless electronic “tattoos” for monitoring neonatal pediatric vital signs in intensive care and platforms that perform biomarker analysis of just microliter samples of sweat for applications in sports and fitness.

The plenary lecture, entitled “Cannabis Constituents as Novel Strategies to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic,” was presented by Dr. Ziva Cooper, Research Director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

Cooper’s work is currently focused on placebo-controlled trials investigating the variables that affect the therapeutic potential and adverse effects of cannabis and cannabinoids.

She talked about the urgent need for new pharmacotherapeutic approaches to preventing reliance on opioids for pain relief and management. Some research has suggested cannabis use may curb reduce opioid use amongst patients and Cooper discussed trials she is involved in that are investigating whether THC and other cannabis components can decrease reliance on opioids for pain relief.

Pittcon: Leading Innovation in Laboratory Science

Award winners

Pittcon attendees were also given the opportunity to speak to award winners across a range of disciplines.

Livia Schiavinato Eberlin from the University of Texas in Austin received the Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award for the impact her research, collaboration, and development of diagnostic cancer detection tools had on the field of analytical chemistry.

Katelynn Perrault from the University of Honolulu was presented the Satinder Ahuja Award for Young Investigators in Separation Science for her novel research into the application of multidimensional chromatography in odor analysis.

Szabolcs Fekete from the University of Geneva received the LCGC Emerging Leader in Chromatography award for his work investigating new possibilities in protein chromatography using a range of separation techniques; pharmaceutical analyses; liquid chromatography technology development and research into retention and band broadening.

Finally, Daniel Armstrong from the University of Texas was presented with the LCGC Lifetime Achievement in Chromatography Award for his research spanning high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, and supercritical fluid chromatography and his impactful work with enantiomeric separations and ionic liquids.

Companies occupying the exhibition space

Exhibition spaces were occupied by many world-renowned companies specializing in analytical laboratory instrumentation who presented their state-of-the-art equipment and innovative solutions.

Examples included Metrohm USA, experts in applications ranging from moisture analysis to cation quantification. The company also presented the Young Chemist of the year award, which went to Dr. Pawan Jolly, a senior researcher at Harvard’s Wyss Institute who works under the supervision of Donald E. Ingber. Pawan has been developing an anti-fouling “eRapid” nanocomposite material sensor coating that can be used in low-cost diagnostic tools for electronic sensors to prevent biofouling and ensure signal sensitivity. Using the coating, almost any analyte can be detected in a drop in a matter of minutes, without the need for sample preparation.

Also presenting was Advion, with its portfolio of customized life science solutions for directly optimizing lab workflows at the bench.

Experts in customer-focused services and solutions, Malvern Panalytical presented some of their technologies for quantifying chemical, physical and structural aspects in materials analysis.

Renowned leader in light scattering instrumentation, Wyatt Technology, presented solutions for analyzing macromolecules and nanoparticles in solution.

Bruker Corporation – a world-leader in analytical instrumentation  – presented some examples from its broad range of technologies for applications across all fields of research and development.

Pittcon Party

Pittcon’s annual party celebrating the conference, camaraderie and Chicago city was held at the world-renowned Museum of Science & Industry. Attendees enjoyed taking in amazing sights, including a 40-foot tornado and hanging historic aircraft in this fascinating and fun venue and snacked on Chicago-style Hors d’Oeuvres and ice creams from the Sundae bar.

Pittcon Philanthropy 

For almost 75 years, Pittcon has funded scholarships, internships, research projects and encouraging children into science as part of its dedication to ensuring conference proceeds are given back directly to the scientific community. Every year 90% of the net revenue is donated to fund education in science and to support ongoing science education and outreach. In total, approximately $1,000,000 per year is donated to outreach activities such as scholarships and internships, achievement awards and grants for equipment, research projects, public science hubs, museums, and libraries.

Pittcon recognizes and credits all attendees and exhibitors for having an exponentially positive and significant impact on the broader scientific community.

Pittcon 2022

While attendees still digest the discoveries and advancements they heard about this March, plans are already underway for next year’s event, to be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Pittcon 2022 will showcase the latest advancements, innovations, and solutions in a more streamlined format and a new a 10-track program will be provided for attendees in this bigger and better event, where Pittcon’s efforts and the scientific community are joined at a time that will be more important than ever.

About Pittcon

Pittcon® is a registered trademark of The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a Pennsylvania non-profit organization. Co-sponsored by the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, Pittcon is the premier annual conference and exposition on laboratory science.

Proceeds from Pittcon fund science education and outreach at all levels, kindergarten through adult. Pittcon donates more than a million dollars a year to provide financial and administrative support for various science outreach activities 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.

Visit pittcon.org for more information.

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Last updated: Feb 1, 2024 at 7:06 AM


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