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Fields & Applications Spectroscopy, Professional Development, Clinical, Forensics, Pharma & Biopharma, Metabolomics & Lipidomics

Spectroscopy in the Hot Seat

Process Analytical Technology

Chair: Jim Rydzak, Founder, Specere Consulting, New York, USA.

Must-see sessions

I anticipate that “Enabled Flow Chemistry and Continuous Manufacturing,” and “Modeling for Continuous Manufacturing” will be highlights of the PAT sessions. These offer the cutting-edge application of in-process on-line spectroscopy to continuous manufacturing practices, which is beginning to gain traction in the pharmaceutical area.

I am also really looking forward to the Speed Mentoring session (Monday 22, 12:15-1:30, Room A602) – a fun, fast-paced session that allows young scientists to talk to over a dozen spectroscopists from various industry, academia, and government labs to get an understanding of what it’s like to work in those areas. These interactions will be a wonderful networking opportunity for job hunting or just getting a better understanding of life as a spectroscopist, and could even be the basis of an ongoing mentoring relationship. Register at to take part and receive a free boxed lunch.

I’ll also be attending:

  • Workshop on PAT: Out of the Lab and into the Line.
  • Charles Mann Award session on the Driving Forces Behind the Growth of Raman Spectroscopy
  • Celebrating 60 years of Spectroscopy by the Society of Applied Spectroscopy
After hours

Be sure to bring your favorite sci-fi costume to wear to the Wednesday night Gala – who said spectroscopists were boring?

Chair: Xiaoyun (Shawn) Chen, Research Scientist, The Dow Medical Company, Midland, Michigan, USA.

Topics to watch

This is the fourth year we have organized a session on Industrial Applications of Vibrational Spectroscopy. Our original motivation was very simple. There were many SciX talks from academic groups, but the limited number of talks from the industry tended to be heavily focused on (bio)pharmaceutical companies. Despite their important role, you could count the number of talks from the chemical industry on the fingers of one hand. Organizing these sessions allows industrial speakers to showcase their research work to the outside world and learn from each other and the wider community.

These sessions are tough to organize as those industrial speakers who do breakthrough research often cannot get approval for external release, but over the years we have been lucky enough to feature spectroscopists from industry-leading companies including Eastman, Stepan, DuPont, Infineum, and Dow Corning.

Must-see sessions

On Thursday, October 25, we will have speakers from Dow, 3M and Chevron to present on topics ranging from machine learning, to quantification of hydrocarbon in soil, to real-time reaction monitoring.

Raman Spectroscopy

Chair: Duncan Graham, Head of Department, Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.

Topics to watch

Stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) – there’s a real opportunity for SRS to take over where fluorescence has been used.

Must-see sessions

The Analyst Emerging Lectureship Award lecture by Wei Min is something I’m looking forward to a great deal. Min has been producing excellent data for many years now, pioneering the use of small, inert tags for use in cell imaging with stimulated Raman scattering (SRS), which is quite stunning to see. The accompanying award session dedicated to him will also be of interest.

Chair: Ian R. Lewis, Director, Marketing, Kaiser Optical Systems, Inc, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

Must-see sessions

This will be the 22nd year I have organized/co-organized a session or symposium at FACSS/SciX. With such a vibrant and established symposium, it’s difficult to pick out individual presentations, although the sessions on Emerging Raman and SERS are consistently cutting-edge. Outside the Raman field and as someone who works in the application of spectroscopy to industry, the industrial sessions, including the SAS-sponsored PAT sessions, are of interest.

From a wider impact perspective, the ocean plastics and clinic sessions (as well as the plenary on ocean plastics) are topical and should be educational.


I am looking forward to the networking opportunities that I have as a member of the Coblentz Society, SAS, IRDG, ANACHEM, and RSC. In some cases, it has been a year since I have seen some of my international friends. The oral sessions, the poster sessions, and the exhibit give me a venue to start discussions and the evening networking opportunities allow time for these discussions to be concluded.

Contemporary Issues in Analytical Science

Chair: Rebecca Airmet, Airmet Editing.

Must-see sessions

One of the core missions of SciX is to foster unexpected connections between attendees, and the Contemporary Issues in Analytical Science section is always a great opportunity to move the science out of the lab and into the real world. The section represents the human counterpoint to the technical, measurement-driven topics of the overall conference.

This year’s section embraces social topics, science advocacy and education, and development for early-career professionals. I’m most looking forward to this year’s session on “Scientists Easing World Poverty”, which focuses this year on low-cost healthcare, especially for point-of-care diagnostics. This session always sparks new ideas and connections. If you’re a student or in the early stages of your career, don’t miss the “mini-workshop” and panel on speaking and presentation skills. Sessions devoted to the development of open source equipment, the impacts of 3D printing, and the role of citizen scientists also promise to be relevant across industry, academia, and even government. Every year, these narrative-driven sessions bring surprising information, passionate speakers, and opportunities to connect and collaborate across the boundaries of disciplinary silos, and this year will be no exception.

After hours

I always look forward to the Wednesday night Gala. It’s a great opportunity to connect with old friends and meet new ones. Networking is one of the elements that sets SciX apart. Take advantage of these great opportunities!

Biomedical & Bioanalytical

Chair: Juergen Popp, Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology, Jena, Germany.

Topics to watch

In my opinion, SciX is the best conference in analytical science. The organizers have put together a wonderful program and it is very difficult to choose a particular symposium or presentation – but since my own research focus is on biomedical Raman spectroscopy, I am particularly looking forward to the numerous Raman symposia, which showcase an immense range of applications of Raman, ranging from biology to ancient artifacts. A particularly exciting field of application is the diagnosis and therapy of infectious diseases. We recently founded the InfectoGnostics research campus in Jena, Germany, a public–private partnership for the development of new methods in infectious disease diagnostics (, and the research campus will chair two very exciting symposia on this subject.

Another exciting topic will be Raman labeling. Raman spectroscopy, in particular fast coherent Raman imaging (CARS, SRS), allows the targeted observation of specific molecules (such as metabolites, lipids and amino acids) in combination with specific Raman tags. These Raman tags differ in size and multiplexing ability from fluorescent labels. Though fluorescence probes can often be larger than the labeled molecules, Raman tags are small modifications of the target molecules that do not change their functionality and do not affect the cells. The modifications can involve stable isotope labeling or the addition of a single molecular group with a large Raman scattering cross section (such as nitrile or alkyne groups). The combination of coherent Raman microscopy with multiplex Raman tags makes it possible to study a variety of small biomolecules with high specificity and sensitivity in living cells, at tissue level or even in vivo.

Must-see sessions

“Infectious Diseases. The Unmet Medical Need” and “Analytical Technologies for Infectious Diseases I: Molecular Methods.” These will address the unmet needs in infectiology and modern analytical/diagnostic approaches. Alex van Belkum, R&D Director of bioMérieux, and one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases, will give a lecture on tests for antibiotic resistance – one of today’s most urgent public health threats.

Surface Plasmon Resonance

Chair: Jean-François Masson, Professor, Département de chimie, Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

Topics to watch

This year’s plasmonic program at SciX will feature an outstanding group of established leaders and rising stars in the field. Attendees will have the chance to discover the latest in the synthesis of new plasmonic materials and their use in a series of important biomedical, clinical, environmental and industrial applications. These applications are rapidly reaching a maturity level, which means technology transfer is on the horizon. Plasmonics are poised to have a much broader reach outside the realms of academia in the near future.

Mass Spectrometry

Chair: Glen Jackson, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Forensic Chemistry and Ming Hsieh Distinguished Professor, Forensic and Investigative Science, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.

Must-see sessions

SciX 2018 provides an amazing opportunity to see some of the highest-impact mass spectrometrists in the USA. The mass spectrometry section comprises sessions organized by leaders in mass spectrometry who are based in Georgia or its neighboring states. The theme of the mass spectrometry (MS) section is  “Top-Down and Intact MS Analysis”. Facundo Fernandez from Georgia Tech is organizing a session on “Advances in MS Ionization.” Ronghu Wu, also from Georgia Tech, is organizing a session on “MS-Based Protein Analysis.” Leslie Hicks from UNC, Chapel Hill, is chairing a session on “Activity-Based MS”, and Lissa Anderson from the National High Magnetic Field Lab in Tallahassee, Florida is chairing a session on “Intact Protein Analysis.” Finally, Jonathan Amster from Georgia University will be chairing a session on “Native Mass Spectrometry”. This latter session, on Wednesday morning, features presentations by Joseph Loo from UCLA, Brandon Ruotolo from U. Michigan, Jon Amster, Francisco Fernandez-Lima from FIU and Henry Shion from Waters Corp. In addition to the other MS sessions, this session will be a great opportunity to see cutting-edge research by some of the world leaders in top-down and intact protein analysis.

Atomic Spectroscopy

Chair: Jorge Pisonero Castro, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain.

Must-see sessions

This year, I am looking forward to attending the sessions on Atomic Spectroscopy, as well as some related to LIBS. In particular, I am interested in new developments related to solution cathode glow discharge, FAPA sources, and microwave plasma sources. I am also very keen on new methodologies for fast elemental imaging using LIBS and LA-ICP-MS.

Topics to watch
  • Fast high resolved elemental imaging using LIBS and LA-ICP-MS with probable new applications in biochemistry, geology and material science.
  • Robust microwave plasma sources for multiple applications, including elemental analysis, CO2 conversion, etc.
  • Portable devices for fast liquid analysis based on solution cathode glow discharge.
  • New software and hardware development for multi-elemental analysis of nanoparticles, including ICP-TOFMS.

Pharmaceutical Analysis

Chairs: Anna Luczak and John Wasylyk, Scientists, Bristol Myers Squibb, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

Must-see sessions

SciX 2018 promises to meet – and exceed – expectations yet again! This year we have increased the number of sessions in the Pharmaceutical Analysis section from 9 to 11, with a heavy emphasis on biopharmaceuticals. There are presentations by top speakers from industry and academia, covering topics from pharma/biopharma counterfeits and real-time fermentation monitoring, to advances in aggregation tracking and chiral analyses. On a personal level, we are looking forward to sessions on some of our favorite topics, such as Raman, PAT, and Chemistry in Art and Archeology – the challenge at SciX is trying to squeeze them all in! The only “rest” we get is during the many networking opportunities, which always seem to energize us and provide an excellent platform to catch up on recent advances.

Top tip

Make sure you plan your day using the SciX app. Bring your most comfortable footwear... and perhaps download another app to count your steps!

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About the Author
Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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