Instrumentation dramatically transformed the power, pace, and impact of scientific research. New questions could be asked and answered. Research that once took years could be done in days. The Pittcon Heritage Award honors those visionaries whose entrepreneurial careers shaped the instrumentation and laboratory supplies community and by doing so have transformed the scientific community at large.
The award has been presented jointly with Pittcon since 2002 and is given out each year at a special ceremony during Pittcon. The recipient’s name and achievements are added to the Pittcon Hall of Fame, which conference attendees can visit at the show each year.
2019 Awardees: Nicholas Pelick and Walter Supina
Nicholas Pelick and Walter Supina, founders of Supelco, were honored posthumously with the Pittcon Heritage Award on March 18 at the 2019 Pittcon Conference and Expo.
In the 1960s, when chromatography was just emerging as a commercial application, Walter Supina and Nicholas Pelick formed Supelco, working out of a small garage in central Pennsylvania. The business began manufacturing packed gas chromatography columns and in the 1970s moved on to glass capillary columns. As Supelco grew, Supina and Pelick became pioneers in serving customers with the consumables—the columns, standards, reagents, and accessories—needed to exploit the power and versatility of this burgeoning analytical technique.
Supelco’s growth followed the trajectory of the expanding chromatography field. The company’s many firsts to the market were highlighted by innovations around particles, columns, surface chemistry, and devices that solved particular analytical challenges faced by customers. The extensive innovations developed at Supelco sprang from Supina and Pelick’s passion for the customer and from their technical leadership. Their legacy lives on today as the Supelco brand of MilliporeSigma. The life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, operates as MilliporeSigma in the United States and Canada.
Previous Winners of the Pittcon Heritage Award
- Michael Morris (2018)
- Robert Warren (2017)
- Kenji Kazato and Kazuo Ito (2016)
- Blaine Bowman (2015)
- Lynwood Swanson (2014)
- Günther Laukien (2013)
- Genzo Shimadzu Sr. and Genzo Shimadzu Jr. (2012)
- George and John Hatsopoulos and Arvin Smith (2011)
- Walter Jennings (2010)
- Alfred Bader (2009)
- Leroy Hood (2008)
- David Schwartz (2007)
- Masao Horiba (2006)
- Robert W. Allington (2005)
- Paul A. Wilks Jr. (2004)
- Kathryn Hach-Darrow (2003)
- David Nelson (2002)
Pittcon Hall of Fame Inductees
All winners of the Pittcon Heritage Award are inducted into the Pittcon Hall of Fame. There they join the members of the special introductory class of instrumentation pioneers:
- Walter S. Baird
- John Townsend Baker
- C. Eugene Bennett and Aaron Martin
- Arnold O. Beckman
- Howard Cary
- Wallace Coulter
- Keene P. Dimick
- Charles Elmer and Richard S. Perkin
- Robert Finnigan
- Chester G. Fisher
- Maurice Hasler
- William Hewlett and David Packard
- J. O. Jarrell
- Frank Martinez Jr.
- Erhard Mettler
- Arthur H. Thomas
- Russell Varian and Sigurd Varian
The Science History Institute thanks the American Chemical Society, which granted permission to adapt the biographical information for these web pages, and Declan O’Reilly, former Charles Price Fellow in Polymer Chemistry at the Institute, for his contributions.
The Institute gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation for this undertaking and thanks the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy for giving us the opportunity to be a partner in maintaining the Pittcon Hall of Fame.
Pittcon is the largest and most inclusive conference and exposition on laboratory science and instrumentation in the world. The annual event brings together more than 30,000 conferees and exhibitors from more than 70 countries.