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Chemometrics without Equations

Nov 29, 2022

In 1988 Donald Dahlberg, Professor of Chemistry at Lebanon Valley College (LVC), decided to take a sabbatical leave at the University of Washington (UW) Center for Process Analytical Chemistry (CPAC). At the time, his former student Mary Beth Seasholtz was a second year graduate student in Bruce Kowalski’s Laboratory for Chemometrics. Mary Beth asked Don if he’d be interested in seeing what she was doing. Before Don knew it, he was attending Kowalski’s chemometrics courses and group meetings. I met Don during this period as I was also at CPAC.

When he returned to LVC he started teaching chemometrics to undergraduate students, and involving them in research. This included collaborative research with a local confectionary company.

Meanwhile, at Eigenvector we were interested in developing chemometrics courses for a wider audience. So sometime in 2001 our Neal B. Gallagher contacted Don about the possibility of creating a chemometrics workshop that did not involve the parallel presentation of matrix algebra. They struggled over a title, but eventually settled on “Chemometics without Equations (or hardly any).” We call it CWE for short. Don, having recently retired from teaching at LVC, wrote the workshop with Neal reviewing the content.  

A slide from Chemometrics without Equations explaining PCA in everyday terms.

Don and Neal first presented CWE at the 16th International Forum on Process Analytical Chemistry (IFPAC) in San Diego on January 21-22, 2002. The course was taught hands-on using PLS_Toolbox. CWE was repeated at CPAC’s Summer Institute that July and again at the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS, now SCIX) conference in October 2022 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. This marked the beginning of CWE’s 20 year run at fall conferences. It was repeated in 2003 at FACSS and in 2004 moved to the Eastern Analytical Symposium (EAS), its home through this year. The workshop has been offered every year, except in 2020 when COVID-19 prevented a physical conference.  

EAS 2022 marks Don’s final presentation of the course at EAS, making a total of 20 fall conference appearances. Each time Don has been assisted by either Neal or myself. Knowing that Don was an avid bourbon connoisseur we commemorated the occasion with a bottle of Blanton’s as he completed his final class.

Neal, Don and Barry celebrating Don’s final Chemometrics without Equations course at Eastern Analytical Symposium.

Looking back on 20 years of teaching CWE Don observed:

EAS has allowed me to meet many scientist who wish to learn and use chemometrics.  They have included not only scientists in chemistry, but also those in related fields such as forensic science and cultural heritage.  I have had the privilege to offer special versions of the course, tailored to the latter two fields.  I have been able to present the course at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the Forensic Science Department at the University of New Haven, the Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Museum and the Library of Congress.  My goal has been to introduce the power of chemometrics to those inside and outside of analytical chemistry.  Even though it is time to end my presentations at EAS, I intend to continue to help those who wish to explore the field of chemometrics.

Over 20+ years Professor Dahlberg has gently introduced hundreds to the field of chemometrics with CWE taught at conferences, at in-house classes and online. Thanks Don for your service to field! Cheers and bottoms up!

If you’d like to have Chemometrics without Equations presented at your site, please write bmw@eigenvector.com and we’ll help you arrange it.