Pittcon Heritage Award

A. Blaine Bowman

Blaine Bowman

2015 Winner: A. Blaine Bowman

A. Blaine Bowman was selected by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) to receive the 2015 Pittcon Heritage Award. The award was presented in New Orleans on March 8 during Pittcon 2015.

About the Awardee

A. Blaine Bowman is a pioneer in the commercialization of ion chromatography and the leading figure in the success of the Dionex Corporation, now part of Thermo Fisher Scientific. Born in 1946 in Ogden, Utah, Bowman spent much of his youth in the Los Angeles area. He received a BS degree in physics from Brigham Young University in 1970, working summers as an engineer on the Apollo program at McDonnell Douglas. He then went to work for Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Division in Phoenix, Arizona, while simultaneously taking graduate courses in electrical engineering at Arizona State University. Becoming more and more interested in the business side of high technology, Bowman enrolled in Stanford University’s School of Business, graduating at the top of his class with an MBA degree in 1973.

He then took a position with McKinsey and Company and consulted for a range of industries. Eager to move from consultant to business executive, in 1977 he joined a small start-up firm, International Plasma Corporation, and became general manager of its analytical instrument division, which was then trying to commercialize ion chromatography. When Smith Kline acquired International Plasma in 1980, Bowman spun out the analytical instrument division into a new company, Dionex. At that time Bowman became president and CEO of the fledgling firm.

Under Bowman’s leadership Dionex revolutionized the field of ion analysis, reducing the cycle time and the labor involved in ion analysis. Dionex went beyond “selling a box” and developed the chemistry and software to efficiently arrive at solutions to analytical problems. Dionex was at the forefront in developing polymer-based analytical columns and pioneered inert, nonmetallic pumping technologies.

The market for ion chromatography grew dramatically. Originally used especially by power plants that were seeking to reduce the pitting of turbines, applications of ion chromatography expanded into the environmental and life sciences, each of which currently represent one-third of the ion chromatography market.

At an early stage Bowman realized that Dionex needed worldwide reach. He created its first international subsidiary in the United Kingdom in 1980 and in the following years established sales and service operations in numerous countries around the globe. By the early 2000s Dionex was selling around 70% of its volume in countries outside the United States.

Bowman remained CEO until 2002, chairman until 2005, and a director until 2011, when Dionex was acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific.

About the Pittcon Heritage Award

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

The award is presented annually at a special ceremony during Pittcon. The recipient’s name and achievements are added to a roster of Pittcon Hall of Fame members that includes such industry pioneers as Arnold Beckman, Robert Finnigan, Chester Fisher, Aaron Martin, James Waters, and others.

About the Sponsors

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.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation is a collections-based nonprofit organization that preserves the history and heritage of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences and technologies. The collections are used to create a body of original scholarship that illuminates chemistry’s role in shaping society. In bridging science with the humanities, arts, and social sciences, CHF is committed to building a vibrant, international community of scholars; creating a rich source of traditional and emerging media; expanding the reach of our museum; and engaging the broader society through inventive public events.

Pittcon Hall of Fame

Click here to learn more about the pioneers of chemical instrumentation.

Past Winners

Click here to see the past recipients of the Pittcon Heritage Award.

Arnold O. Beckman

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