Pittcon Heritage Award

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.

Michael Morris.jpg

Michael Morris.

Michael Morris.

2018 Awardee: Michael Morris 

Michael Morris, president of SpectrEcology and founder of Ocean Optics, received the Pittcon Heritage Award on February 26 at the 2018 Pittcon Conference and Expo.

An oceanographer by training and entrepreneur by nature, Morris is the president of SpectrEcology, a high-tech company that develops new products and applications for optical sensing and spectroscopy. His current work involves creating point-of-care nucleic acid−based testing devices for infection detection; deploying spectrometers on unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles for precision agriculture and aquaculture; developing miniature fiber-optic O2 sensors for medical and wearables markets; and creating ultraviolet-light sterilization products.

Morris was also the founder of Ocean Optics, in Dunedin, Florida, and its president from garage start-up through the sale to Halma in 2004. He is now a distributor for Ocean Optics and a member of its advisory board.

In his tenure at Ocean Optics, Morris has directed the development of over 2,000 new products, including spectrometers currently used on the Mars rover. He helped expand company sales from zero to an annual rate of more than $50 million and assembled a highly skilled workforce that grew from a handful of pioneers at start-up to more than 300 employees at five locations worldwide.

Morris pioneered the use of miniature fiber-optic spectrometers beginning with the introduction of the S1000 in 1992. During his tenure the company introduced an average of 1.3 new products per week, devices that enabled use of the spectrometer in laboratory, process and industrial control, environmental, space-based, and education settings. The company mission was to create applications development on demand, enabling any measurement involving absorbance, transmission, reflection, or emission of light.

Morris has nearly 30 years of experience in the design, manufacture, and marketing of technology-related products and services. He began his career as a sales representative for laboratory products supplier Fisher Scientific. Morris also spent six years as associate director of technology transfer for the NASA-sponsored Southern Technology Applications Center, a clearinghouse of resources for technology-minded entrepreneurs.

He is active on several boards, including Outstretched Hands Ministries, the academic advisory board for FIU Biomedical Engineering, and the advisory board for Accustrata.

Morris received a BS in chemical and cell biology from Rutgers University and an MS in marine science from the University of South Florida.

Previous Winners of the Pittcon Heritage Award

  • 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:


Pittcon Hall of Fame.

Pittcon Hall of Fame.

  • 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.

About Pittcon

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.