The Williams-Wright Award

2020 Awardee

The Coblentz Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Christopher Brown of 908 Devices has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Williams-Wright Award for Industrial Spectroscopy.  The award will be presented at the Pittsburgh Conference, to be held March 1-5, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois USA.  This award is presented to Dr. Brown in recognition of his work in the development of smart, high-performance miniature analytical systems across a range of industries and applications.  The Williams-Wright Award Symposium is held in honor of the awardee and immediately follows the presentation. The 2020 Award symposium will feature an Award Address by Dr. Brown and talks from his invited speakers.                   

Dr. Brown received his B.Sc. in chemistry and mathematics at Brandon University, and his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Dalhousie University in Canada where he specialized in the development of chemometric and statistical learning methods for analytical systems. Chris’s professional career has been focused on the development of smart, high-performance miniature analytical systems across a range of industries and applications, with a particular focus on miniaturization, autonomous systems and ultimately user experience. He is driven by a desire to put spectroscopy and other analytical technologies to work outside of the mainstream laboratory workflow, and often outside of the laboratory entirely. This challenge demands a holistic approach to analytical system design, incorporating not only clever analytical technology, but also hardware/mechanical, electronics, automated system control, user-facing software, and the statistically rigorous conversion of analytical data to answers.

Early in his career Chris worked on and led numerous developments of automated spectroscopy-based products for in-vivo biodiagnostics, metabolic monitoring / clinical chemistry, biometrics, and biopharmaceutical process monitoring at InLight Solutions in New Mexico (NIR, mid-IR, fluorescence and spectroscopic imaging). He joined Ahura Scientific in Boston in 2004 to work on the development of the world’s first handheld Raman spectrometer and later handheld FTIR. His time as Sr. Director of Engineering / Product Development at Ahura saw the release of more than a half-dozen products with tailor-made hardware and software for hazmat, military, forensics, and pharmaceutical applications, and has led to over 25,000 handheld Raman/IR systems being usable in the field by non-spectroscopists. After Thermo’s acquisition of Ahura he spent two years at Apple in California as a platform architect for advanced sensing technologies in the phone/wearables sector. He co-founded 908 Devices as Chief Technology Officer in 2012, launching the world’s first self-contained handheld mass spectrometer in 2015 (4 lbs.), and thereafter a range of microscale MS and separation products in the forensics and life-science arena.

Chris and teams have been the fortunate recipients of three R&D 100 awards and a number of other industry technology and product awards. He was selected as a 2017 SAS National Tour Speaker and continues to be very active in the broader analytical community, publishing some 150 papers and conference presentations, and more than 50 patents. He is also a reviewer for numerous journals in analytical chemistry, statistics and machine learning, and is an editorial board member for the Journal of Chemometrics.

History and Nomination Process

In 2018, The Coblentz Society celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Williams-Wright Award. The Coblentz Society's Williams-Wright Award is presented annually to an industrial spectroscopist who has made significant contributions to vibrational spectroscopy while working in industry. The work may include infrared and/or Raman spectroscopy, instrumental development as well as theory, and applications of vibrational spectroscopy. Government labs are not considered industry in this definition. No restrictions are placed on the selection of the Awardee because of age, sex, or nationality, but the Awardee must still be working at the time the award is presented. The award consists of a framed certificate and an honorarium. In order to ensure that the award is based on an independent evaluation of the candidate’s achievements, the selection is made by a committee chosen by the Coblentz Society.  The Award is presented each year at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy. 

The nomination should clearly state the significance of the contribution made by the nominee, e.g., the introduction of novel methods, techniques or theories; innovative work in the field of vibrational spectroscopy; significant improvement on existing methods, theory or techniques; or important impact on the field of vibrational spectroscopy arising from the volume of contributions in a specific area. The nomination packet should include a resume of the nominee's career including a publication list. Seconding letters to the nomination are useful, but not necessary. Files on nominees will be kept active for three years, after which the candidate must either be renominated with an updated file, or the file will be closed. Nominations close May 1, 2020 for the 2021 award.

Please send nomination packages via email to:

Nominations Chair

Recipients of the Williams-Wright Award

2019       Wolfgang Petrich

2018       Charles R. (Chuck) Anderson

2017       Slobodan Sasic

2016       Drouet Warren Vidrine

2015       Jagdeesh Bandekar

2014       Mike Doyle

2013       John Coates

2012       Richard Crocombe

2011       Howard Mark

2010       Patrick Treado

2009       Jerome J. Workman

2008       Rina Dukor

2007       Michael Carrabba

2006       Harry Owen

2005       Fran Adar

2004       Neil Lewis

2003       Neil Everall

2002       Isao Noda

2001       Raul Curbelo

2000       John A. Reffner

1999       Donald Kuehl

1998       Henry Buijs

1997       Michael J. Pelletier

1996       Robert G. Messerschmidt

1995       Michael R. Philpott

1994       John M. Chalmers

1993       Curtis Marcott

1992       Timothy Harris

1991       Robert J. Obremski

1990       John F. Rabolt

1989       D. Bruce Chase

1988       Darwin L. Wood

1987       A. Lee Smith

1986       Abe Savitsky/Joseph J. Barrett

1985       Clara D. Craver/Richard A. Nyquist

1984       Robert Jakobsen

1983       Harry Willis

1982       Robert Hannah

1981       Paul Wilks/James Harrick

1980       Jeanette Grasselli

1979       Norman Colthup

1978       Norman Wright