The Williams-Wright Award

About the Award

In 2021, The Coblentz Society celebrated the 43rd 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 award consists of a prism and an honorarium. The Award is presented each year at PittCon

Nominate someone for the 2022 award. 

2021 Williams-Wright Award Recipient – Dr. Ian R. Lewis

Ian Lewis

The Coblentz Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Ian R. Lewis of Kaiser Optical Systems, Inc., an Endress+Hauser company, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Williams-Wright Award.  The Williams–Wright Award is presented annually to an industrial spectroscopist who has made significant contributions to vibrational spectroscopy while working in industry. The award will be officially conferred during the Williams-Wright Award Symposium at the Pittsburgh Conference, which was to be held March 6-10, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana USA but will be held virtually.  The 2021 Award Symposium will feature an award address by Ian and talks from his invited speakers.

Ian received his B.Sc. in chemistry and chemical technology and his Ph.D. in Polymer Science & Spectroscopy from the University of Bradford, UK. While at Bradford, his Ph.D. covered the polymerization, characterization, and reactions of poly-dienes. During his Ph.D. studies he discovered a passion for the application of vibrational spectroscopy and had an opportunity to work with FT-IR, far-IR, Raman, micro-Raman, and hyper-Raman. He conducted experiments to couple a Raman spectrometer to a reactor using a flow-cell and investigated the coupling of Raman to a flow-cell as an optical composition analyzer for gel permeation (GPC) / size exclusion (SEC) chromatography. Outside of his Ph.D. work and with Professor Howell Edwards, his co-advisor, he investigated the application of Raman to arts & antiquities, bio-based lichen degradation, novel characterization of compounds for electronic purposes, the “disease” state of plastic dolls, and the impact of polymer solids and salts dissolution in water.

Ian did his post-doc at the University of Idaho with Professor Peter Griffiths.  During his time there he contributed to the team that worked on projects for the DOE and FBI. These projects were part of efforts to assist in the environmental clean-up of nuclear processing facilities and the detection of explosives in the aviation transportation system.  During his years in Idaho, he started consulting with several Raman companies and started his scientific volunteering by organizing Raman sessions at the FACSS conference.

In 1996, Ian joined Kaiser Optical Systems to support the development and implementation of Raman in industrial settings.  Ian currently holds the position of Director of Marketing and manages the marketing communications and product management groups at Kaiser. At Kaiser, he has worked with internal and external stakeholders to develop products, applications, and solutions to address the challenges of moving laboratory Raman-based analyses to reliable and transferable process control measurements.

During his career Ian has chaired the ASTM subcommittee on Raman (E13.08), has served as the Program Chair of FACSS in 2007 (Memphis) and as co-program chair of ICAVS 10 in 2019 (Auckland, NZ).  He has also served on the program committee or as a session organizer at FACSS, SciX, ICAVS, ICORS, and EAS, and as an invited speaker at the above conferences as well as Pittcon, and IFPAC.  Over the course of his career, he has organized or co-organized more than 200 technical sessions in addition to teaching short courses on Raman at conferences and at customer sites.

Ian has publishing over 50 papers and 100 conference proceedings. He co-authored Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy: From the Research Laboratory to the Process Line, has authored or co-authored seven other book chapters, and co-authored the first USP general monograph on Raman Spectroscopy (USP-1120). He is a reviewer for numerous journals in analytical chemistry, is an editorial board member for Applied Spectroscopy, Spectroscopy, and American Pharmaceutical Review and has been a guest editor for special issues of Applied Spectroscopy and Vibrational Spectroscopy.

Ian’s previously awards include the Charles Mann Award for Applied Raman from FACSS, elected as a Fellow of SAS (2011) and Fellow of RSC (2018), Distinguished Service Awards from both FACSS and SAS, and Honorary Membership from the Coblentz Society.

Recent Williams-Wright Award Recipients

2020 Williams-Wright Award Recipient

Dr. Christopher D. 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, published 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.


Chris Brown

2019 Williams-Wright Award Recipient

The Coblentz Society is pleased to announce that Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Petrich of Roche Diabetes Care GmbH, Mannheim, Germany and Heidelberg University has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Williams-Wright Award for Industrial Spectroscopy.  The award will be presented at the Pittsburgh Conference, to be held March 18-21, 2019 in Philadelphia, PA USA.  This award is presented to Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Petrich in recognition of his work in the development and application of biomedical applications of infrared-based clinical laboratory instrumentation in the fields of metabolism, rheumatology, cardiology, and veterinary medicine as well as pioneering applications of quantum cascade laser (QCL) technology to biology and medicine.  The Williams-Wright Award Symposium is held in honor of the awardee and immediately follows the presentation. The 2019 Award symposium will feature an Award Address by Prof. Petrich and talks from invited speakers Nicholas Stone (University of Exeter), Rohit Bhargava (Beckman Institute, University of Illinois), Niels Kröger-Lui (Bruker Optics), and Anita Mahadevan-Jansen (Vanderbilt University).

Wolfgang studied physics at the Heidelberg University, Germany and at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland; he subsequently obtained his Ph.D. for research in atomic physics and quantum optics at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (Heidelberg, Germany). He was awarded a Feodor-Lynen Research Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to work as a postdoc on the topic of Bose-Einstein condensation with the later Nobel Laureates Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman at JILA, Colorado, USA.

Wolfgang engaged in academic research for two additional years at the University of Constance, Germany before he joined Boehringer Mannheim GmbH (later Roche Diagnostics GmbH). Here, he substantially contributed to biomedical applications of infrared-based clinical laboratory instrumentation in the fields of metabolism, rheumatology, and cardiology, as well as in veterinary medicine. Notably, he and his team conducted by far the largest and most comprehensive study of infrared-spectroscopy of serum in medicine at that time. He also performed the first direct comparison between NIR-Raman spectroscopy and mid-infrared spectroscopy of serum under clinically identical conditions with respect to the quantification of analytes. Wolfgang and his teams also pioneered the application of quantum cascade laser (QCL) technology to biology and medicine. The use of QCLs almost became an obsession such that Wolfgang (in addition to his full-time employment at Roche!) founded a small research group on biophotonics at Heidelberg University’s Kirchhoff-Institute for Physics. This endeavor turned out to be quite successful; not only was this group among the first teams worldwide to design and build QCL-based infrared microscopes, but it was the first team to apply the technique to the microspectroscopy of biomedical samples. They were able to show that the usual measurement times for thin tissue sections for histopathology could be reduced by two to three orders of magnitude when compared to FT-IR-based microspectroscopy. A typical tissue thin section can now be measured in seconds or minutes rather than hours or days without sacrificing spatial or spectral quality, thus constituting a big step on the path from benchtop to bedside. Recently, Wolfgang and his team were able to show fixed-frequency mid-infrared microscopy of living microorganisms in real time (i.e. 0.02 seconds/image) at VGA (640×480) format.

Today, Wolfgang is with Roche Diabetes Care GmbH, Mannheim, Germany and, in his spare time, continues to research and teach at Heidelberg University. He has authored and co-authored many publications and patents and has served as an organizer of many biophotonics conferences such as SPEC 2006 and SPIE’s biannual conference on biomedical vibrational spectroscopy at Photonics West.

Wolfgang Petrich

2018 Williams-Wright Award Recipient

The Coblentz Society is pleased to announce that the 2018 Williams-Wright Award for Industrial Spectroscopy will be presented to Charles R. (Chuck) Anderson at the Pittsburgh Conference, held February 26 – March 1, 2018 in Orlando, FL USA.

After completing his undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1968, Chuck designed and built his first FT-IR Spectrometer in 1969, prior to commercially available FT-IR systems being readily available. This FT-IR system was used to successfully support an atmospheric testing program at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. This work led to the development of improved FT-IR systems sold by General Dynamics Corp. using the Nicolet computer systems. The applications of these early FT-IR systems were not well publicized as much of this work required Chuck to carry high level security clearances and could not be discussed or published. However, Chuck’s technical leadership in directing suppliers of IR optics, beamsplitters, IR detectors, interferometers, applications software and data systems made him well known and respected in the instrument business. This reputation led him to the opportunity in 1975 to lead the engineering effort at Nicolet Instrument Corporation in commercializing FT-IR spectrometers for the general analytical laboratory market.

At Nicolet, Chuck was instrumental in the creation of the Nicolet 7199, 6000, 8000 vacuum system, MX-1, 60SX, 5DX, 20SX FT-IR spectrometers and many customer application solutions such as Quantitative Analysis, Spectral Library/Data Bases, Silicon Wafer Analysis, Automotive Exhaust Gas Analysis, GC-IR and TGA-IR. It was the complex beamsplitter coating designs he created that contributed towards the high performance the Nicolet systems were known for. During his nearly 20 year tenure, Nicolet grew to become the world market leader in FT-IR spectrometer sales.

In 1994, Chuck became the President of Spectral Systems, a manufacturer of infrared optics for FT-IR, who he continues to work for today. At Spectral Systems he was able to bring his vast knowledge of FT-IR to make Spectral Systems the world leader in infrared optics and beamsplitters for optical spectroscopy. In 2015, over 16,000 beamsplitters were supplied to FT-IR manufacturers. While successful in business and management, perhaps his greatest asset has been his high level of system understanding in how FT-IR works. He has the rare ability to diagnose the root cause of any spectral artifact or problem from simply looking at the data.

Charles Anderson

1978-2017 Williams-Wright Award Recipients

Slobodan Sasic

Drouet Warren Vidrine

Jagdeesh Bandekar

Mike Doyle

John Coates

Richard Crocombe

Howard Mark

Patrick Treado

Jerome J. Workman

Rina Dukor

Michael Carrabba

Harry Owen

Fran Adar

Neil Lewis

Neil Everall

Isao Noda

Raul Curbelo

John A. Reffner

Donald Kuehl

Henry Buijs

Michael J. Pelletier

Robert G. Messerschmidt

Michael R. Philpott

John M. Chalmers

Curtis Marcott

Timothy Harris

Robert J. Obremski

John F. Rabolt

D. Bruce Chase

Darwin L. Wood

A. Lee Smith

Abe Savitsky/Joseph J. Barrett

Clara D. Craver/Richard A. Nyquist

Robert Jakobsen

Harry Willis

Robert Hannah

Paul Wilks/James Harrick

Jeanette Grasselli

Norman Colthup

Norman Wright