Public Release: 

David Nelson to receive the first annual PITTCON Heritage Award

Chemical Heritage Foundation

Philadelphia - The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) is pleased to announce the first annual PITTCON Heritage Award, jointly sponsored by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy and CHF. This award recognizes outstanding individuals whose entrepreneurial careers shaped the instrumentation community, inspired achievement, promoted public understanding of the modern instrumentation sciences, and highlighted the role of analytical chemistry in world economies.

The 2002 recipient is David Nelson, who started his career at Beckman Instruments, before moving to Cary Instruments, where he rose to the position of President in 1968. After the purchase of Cary Instruments by Varian Associates, Nelson became the Marketing Manager for instruments. He joined Hewlett-Packard in 1973, rising to the position of Group Marketing Manager for all HP analytical products. In 1980, he launched Nelson Analytical Inc. with his partner Harmon Brown. They developed the first chromatography data system (CDS) software for desktop computers and soon created Turbochrom, the first CDS system for MS Windows. In 1989, Nelson Analytical was acquired by Perkin-Elmer, and became the PE-Nelson division. Nelson held several positions at Perkin-Elmer, including Vice President of Strategic Marketing, before retiring in 1991. He then started Nelson Consulting and now advises on company restructuring and special market planning. He also serves on company strategy boards for chromatography and real-time analytical chemistry.

Nelson's work for which he is being recognized with the Pittcon Heritage Award demonstrated that personal computers could be a key part of analytical chemistry. He brought automation and productivity benefits of PCs to the field of chromatography, an innovation that promoted wider use of these tools for analytical studies in the areas of forensic science, pharmaceutical drug discovery, and environmental remediation.

In addition to his entrepreneurial activities, Nelson helped organize the Centcom Breakfast at Pittcon during the 1980s, an annual gathering of senior industry managers and professionals. He also served as chairman of the Communications Standards Committee for the Analytical Instruments Association. This group developed standards by which chromatography data could be exchanged among different CDS units.

The award ceremony will take place during the Pittcon 2002 meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nelson's name and achievements will add to a roster of Pittcon Hall of Fame members that includes such pioneers of the industry as Arnold Beckman, Robert Finnigan, Chester Fisher, Aaron Martin, James Waters, and others.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation was founded in 1982 by the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Today CHF enjoys the endorsement and support of twenty-eight affiliated professional societies and associations, and is recognized as the central agency for preserving, studying, and communicating the heritage of the chemical community. The foundation supports research, scholarship, and popular writing; publishes resource guides and historical materials; conducts oral histories; creates traveling exhibits; and takes other steps to make known the achievements of chemical scientists, instrument entrepreneurs, and associated industries. For more information on the Chemical Heritage Foundation, visit the web site at

The Pittsburgh Conference is in its 53rd year of hosting an annual conference on analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. It is now 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. Pittcon 2002 will include approximately 3,000 presentations in addition to short courses, invited symposia, workshops and new product forums featuring instrument manufacturers from the life sciences, analytical chemistry, and other scientific fields. Proceeds from the conference are used to advance science education. For more information on Pittcon, visit the web site at


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