Returning to Pennsylvania: Highlights from Pittcon 2023 in Philadelphia

After a much-awaited period, Pittcon, the world’s largest conference and exposition on laboratory science, took place once again in sunny Philadelphia on March 18th-22nd, 2023. As the home state of Pittcon, Philadelphia was a fitting location for its return after a two-year absence of in-person events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image Credit: AZoNetwork

Image Credit: AZoNetwork

The conference featured over 1,100 technical sessions, 450 exhibitors, and more than 15,000 attendees who all came together to learn about the latest trends in the laboratory science industry.

The educational tracks at this year’s conference covered a wide range of topics, from bioanalytics and life sciences, food science and agriculture to forensics and toxicology, nanotechnology and materials science.

The networking sessions provided opportunities for attendees to meet up with long-distance colleagues, discuss hot topics and pressing issues in analytical chemistry, and participate in problem-solving.

Meanwhile, the renowned Pittcon Expo featured the latest products and services from a huge range of analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy companies.

The Pittcon 2023 Expo also saw the return of Pittcon Parks, a series of interactive areas where attendees could learn about new technologies, network with colleagues, and participate in hands-on activities. This year, the Parks featured Pittcon Central, the Lab Gauntlet, and the  Demo+Learning Zone.

Led by 2023 president Dr. Jonell Kerkhoff, Pittcon 2023 was a return-to-form event that provided attendees with unrivaled opportunities to learn, network, and discover new opportunities in the field of laboratory science.

Keynote speakers

This year’s Wallace H. Coulter Lecture, entitled “Venturing into analytical chemistry using photonic crystals,” was presented by Joanna Aizenberg and Amy Smith Berylson, Professor of Materials Science and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. Professor Aizenberg’s lab specializes in studying and applying biological principles to the development of new synthetic routes and nanofabrication strategies to be applied in materials and devices.

Professor Aizenberg described the development of a dynamic colloidal co-assembly technique that can be used to create highly ordered, large-scale porous photonic crystals that are applicable to a number of applications. These crystals have a unique coloration that can be used to create simple and low-cost colorimetric indicators. However, the lab is using them to develop low-cost, simple colorimetric indicators for medical applications, encryption, oil classification, and as a tag for monitoring material aging or tampering. Professor Aizenberg also explained how, in the future, her lab plans to use these crystals to construct new machine learning-enabled artificial nose platforms.

Pittcon 2023, Philadelphia - Overview

The topic for the James L. Waters Symposium was the “History and Development of SIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry).” The symposium featured scientists who are working on the latest advances in SIMS technology, including Nicholas Winograd from Penn State University, Ron Heeren from Maastricht University, Hua Tian from the University of Pittsburgh, Jonathan Sweedler of the University of Illinois and Sean C. Bendall of Stanford University School of Medicine.

They discussed efforts to improve the speed and resolution of SIMS measurements and how to use SIMS for a range of applications, from neuroscience to the characterization of single biological cells and tissue. The symposium also highlighted the potential for SIMS to be used in clinical chemistry to diagnose diseases.

Award winners

The 2023 conference was also an opportunity to honor the scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the field of analytical chemistry and spectroscopy. This included Robert Tycko from the National Institutes of Health, who was awarded the Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award for his contributions to magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Neil Kelleher of Northwestern University was awarded the Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry in recognition of his work in proteomics and biological mass spectrometry. Meanwhile, the Ralph N. Adams Award was given to Joseph Wang of the University of California at San Diego, a pioneer in sensor innovation.

Other award recipients included: Jeffrey Dick of Purdue University, Emanuela Gionfriddo of The University of Toledo, Luis A. Colon of the University at Buffalo (SUNY), Craig Prater of Photothermal Technology Corporation, Peter J. Schoenmakers of the University of Amsterdam, Fasha Mahjoor of Phenomenex, and Lane Baker of Texas A&M University.

Companies occupying the exhibition space

An extensive rostrum of exhibitors were present at the Pittcon Expo, covering a range of analytical areas, such as life sciences, environmental, electroanalytical, nanotechnology and food analysis techniques and applications, laboratory automation, specialized analytical testing services and research and clinical diagnostics. This allowed attendees to see the latest instrumentation, participate in demonstrations, and talk directly with technical experts.

Exhibitors included some of the prominent names in the field, with the likes of Bruker Corporation, Inorganic Ventures, LabWare Inc., Waters Corporation, PerkinElmer, Sensirion, and Shimadzu, to name a few.

Pittcon party

Attendees were also invited to celebrate the community, camaraderie, and connection of Pittcon at the annual Pittcon party. This year, the party had a speakeasy theme featuring live music from the 1920s, casino games, and a time-travel photo booth.

Pittcon philanthropy

As the premier annual conference and exposition on laboratory science, Pittcon is in the ideal position to give back to the science community. In fact, 90% of Pittcon’s net revenue profits are donated to funding science education, continuing education, and outreach.

Thanks to the participation of exhibitors and attendees, Pittcon is able to contribute $1 million every year to scholarships, internships, equipment, and research grants, as well as public science centers, libraries, and museums.

Pittcon 2024

In 2024, for the first time, Pittcon will take place on the West Coast in San Diego, California, where we will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the leading laboratory science conference and exposition. San Diego, the home to 200 research facilities, scientific innovation companies, and nearly 90 educational and research institutes in the region, is the ideal venue to host this landmark event. The event will be led by 2024 Pittcon President Dr. Melinda Stephens, Provost, Chief Academic Officer, and Professor of Chemistry at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Image Credit: Pittcon

Image Credit: Pittcon

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.

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Last updated: Feb 1, 2024 at 10:56 PM


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