30th Sep, 2015

30 Years of Chemometrics

On October 1, 1985 I walked into Bruce Kowalski’s chemometrics class and my world changed forever. It was my first day of chemical engineering graduate school at the University of Washington. My M.S. thesis advisor, Prof. Harold Hager, told me that I’d probably find the methods in Bruce’s class useful in treating the data I was to collect. He was right, but more than that, it wasn’t long before I knew that I’d found something I wanted to do for a living.

Infometrix_Melter_Literature

A big part of the class was a project, due at the end of the semester in early December. I spent my Thanksgiving vacation working with Infometrix’s Ein*Sight software doing PCA on data from a Liquid-Fed Ceramic Melter I’d worked on at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Ein*Sight had a limit of 100 samples and 10 variables but it ran on an IBM AT. I spent a lot of time swapping interesting samples in and out of the analysis and trying to interpret the results. I got an A on the project (Bruce gave lots of A’s!) and my study became a piece of Infometrix sales literature (left). From there I started working with Prof. Larry Ricker on my ChemE Ph.D. with Bruce on my committee. The rest, as they say, is history.

I always liked data analysis. As an undergrad in ChemE my lab partners referred to me as the “Data Magician.” I just liked massaging the numbers to see what I could tease out. Chemometrics gave me a whole new set of tools and opened my world up to high dimension data.

Chemometrics has taken me lots of interesting places over the last 30 years, and I mean that both with regards to the travel and the intellectual challenges. And I’ve been blessed to meet lots of great people. It’s awesome to go to a conference in a faraway place and walk into a room full of friends.

Thanks to all my friends and colleagues for a great 30 year adventure! But, man!, that was fast! Where did the time go? But I’m looking forward to a couple more decades of chemometrics escapades.

BMW

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