Public Release: 

Pittcon Heritage Award to Paul A. Wilks, Jr.

Noted infrared spectroscopy innovator, entrepreneur

Chemical Heritage Foundation

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) announced that Paul A. Wilks, Jr., will receive the third annual Pittcon Heritage Award. Jointly sponsored by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) and CHF, this award recognizes outstanding individuals whose entrepreneurial careers have 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 award will be presented at Pittcon 2004 in Chicago in March 2004.

"Paul Wilks is a widely acknowledged authority in IR (infrared) spectroscopy," said Arnold Thackray, president of CHF. "His innovation and entrepreneurship during the past half century have made IR more accessible and commonly used in industrial, academic, and research applications around the world."

Wilks has played an important role in exploring, developing, and marketing important innovations in IR spectroscopy. He pioneered the commercial development of infrared absorption cells and the commercial applications of attenuated total reflection (ATR)-- currently one of the most widely used sampling methods. He played a leading role in the evolution of gas-chromatography (GC) IR; his light-pipe modification of the Perkin-Elmer 137 IR resulted in the first IR spectrophotometer dedicated to doing GC-IR work. Wilks also recognized the importance of circular variable filters, which were used at Wilks Scientific to develop a series of small portable gas analyzers that were adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to monitor toxic gases in the workplace. His present company, Wilks Enterprise, makes mid-IR filtrometers for a variety of applications and in-line mid-IR sensors.

Active in the instrument community, Wilks helped promote the formation of the Coblentz Society in 1954, which honored him with the Williams-Wright Award in 1981. He has also attended every Pittcon conference since the first meeting in 1950.

Wilks will receive the Pittcon Heritage Award at the 54th annual Pittsburgh Conference. 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. Pittcon 2004 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. More information is available at


About the Chemical Heritage Foundation
The Chemical Heritage Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization, operates a historical research library and museum; creates and circulates traveling exhibits; develops and disseminates educational materials; publishes books and Chemical Heritage newsmagazine; offers fellowships and travel grants; conducts oral histories with leading scientists and industrialists; and hosts awards, conferences, and public events. Access to the Othmer Library at CHF and to many collections and educational materials is available at

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.