Pittcon is the world’s largest and most comprehensive laboratory science event. Marking its 75th year of operation, the conference and exposition will be hosted for the first time on the West Coast, in beautiful San Diego, CA, from February 24–28, 2024.
How did Pittcon begin?
This rich and diverse conference and exposition has a fantastic history that began in Pittsburgh in the late 1940s. On the riverbanks of this city laid the heartbeat of an industry that created everything from raw materials to manufactured products. Among this bustling center of trade and development were two scientific societies that were founded to help test these products: the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP) and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP).
Although initially separate, these societies decided to merge their annual symposia to create the first Pittsburgh Conference in Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy in 1950, with 800 attendees and 14 exhibitors. Pittcon was therefore born and continued to exhibit the latest in laboratory equipment at annual conferences until it moved to Ohio in 1968.
Pittcon became more of a “roadshow” in 1988 when it began changing the host city almost every year.
Since then, it has truly grown in enormous proportions compared to the first show. In 2023’s event, there were over 1,100 technical sessions, 450 exhibitors, and more than 15,000 attendees. The aim is still similar to its roots: to develop knowledge, careers, research, and scientific endeavor.
Pittcon is for anyone whose work touches the laboratory; be that from day-to-day sample preparation of gas chromatography machines to buying sparkly new equipment for your team to enjoy. No matter where you are on the career ladder, this event is for everyone.
The learning opportunities
Pittcon is a jam-packed and immersive event. The exhibition provides a nuanced exploration through captivating exhibits of cutting-edge technology and intricate demonstrations. Attendees are afforded the chance to engage in profound discussions, delving into the intricacies of technological challenges encountered within the laboratory milieu.
For ease, the conference is helpfully arranged into different tracks: Bioanalytics & Life Sciences, Cannabis & Psychedelics, Energy & Environmental, Instrumentation & Nanoscience, Pharmaceutical & Biological, and Professional Development. There is truly something for everyone.
Many different short courses can be attended, which all cover the same tracks mentioned above. The Professional Development tracks and courses may be of interest to anyone who is an early-career scientist, as they delve into leadership and power/soft skills, career navigation, and communication, to name a few.
Over the course of the event, numerous occasions for intellectual exchange and professional networking will unfold. These may transpire within formal contexts, such as networking roundtables and workshops, or amid the convivial atmosphere of the Pittcon Party while partaking in hors d'oeuvres. The roundtables and workshops, complimentary for all fully registered attendees, serve as platforms for individuals with shared interests to convene, fostering discussions on workplace challenges and fostering a collaborative environment.
The philanthropic side of Pittcon
Pittcon proudly upholds a robust philanthropic commitment, channeling the proceeds from each conference to advance the realms of science education and outreach. An impressive over 90 percent of Pittcon's net profit is dedicated to the support of primary and secondary education, continuing education initiatives, scholarships, grants, laboratory enhancements, and outreach activities. This steadfast dedication reflects Pittcon's unwavering pursuit of fostering educational excellence and scientific advancement.
“What we particularly look for is for tools that teachers need to be able to put things in children’s hands and let them experiment and have fun, open their eyes to the unseen world around them in the hope that you ignite that interest that maybe pushes them forward as they go through school and get older or go to college. And to continue to think of science or some field of science as an opportunity for them,” Neal Dando, Pittcon’s 2021 President and the current Special Projects Chair, told IFLScience.
These grants are vital in shaping the future of people’s education.
“I’m extremely lucky in which I had the opportunity to apply for and receive a small equipment grant from the SSP,” Jordan Booth, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh Greensburg Campus, told IFLScience. “And what that meant for us is that we were able to take a bunch of decades of outdated spectrophotometers and be able to replace that entire class set.”
“What that means is that all of the general biology, general chemistry, biochemistry, nursing, upper level chemistry, instrumentation, analytical chemistry – all of those courses have the ability to have updated and newer equipment. And that updated and newer equipment means that we can provide a better service to our students and also means that we have the opportunity to take and prepare our students for the future. And with that eye towards the future, while leaning on our past, all I can say is that I am extremely grateful to the SSP to Pittcon to the SSCP for helping to contribute to that,” Booth added.
While being a fantastic resource for current scientists, Pittcon takes investing in the future very seriously. Anyone who attends this event will also contribute to this noble cause.
Overall, this is an exciting and thriving event and one that scientists should not miss out on. We look forward to seeing you at Pittcon next year.
But, if you cannot make it in 2024, then Pittcon will take place in Boston, MA, between March 1–5, 2025.
To register, visit: pittcon.org/register
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