The Winter Conference on Plasma Spectrochemistry: Returning to Arizona


The 2024 Winter Conference on Plasma Spectrochemistry is set to be an exciting week. Here is what to expect from the conference, and why I'm excited to attend in person for the first time.

This coming weekend, I will be packing my bags to travel to my first conference of 2024. The Winter Conference on Plasma Spectrochemistry returns to Tucson, Arizona this year, after the 2023 conference was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The conference alternates between Europe and the US and in 2025, the conference will take place in Berlin, Germany (1).

Tucson, Arizona, USA Skyline | Image Credit: © SeanPavonePhoto -

Tucson, Arizona, USA Skyline | Image Credit: © SeanPavonePhoto -

This year’s conference holds greater significance for me for familial and other sentimental reasons. I spent most of my childhood traveling from New Jersey to Arizona with my family, to visit my father’s side of the family. Known for its arid temperatures, national parks, and saguaro cacti, Arizona is an outdoor lover’s dream. I have many fond memories of my trips to Arizona, some of which include going to the Phoenix Zoo, Grand Canyon, and Petrified Forest National Parks, attending Spring Training games at the Peoria Sports Complex, and watching the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field.

Phoenix Arizona | Image Credit: © Dreamframer -

Grand Canyon Landscape | Image Credit: © SeanPavonePhoto -

Petrified Forest multicolored wood | Image Credit: © Lost_in_the_Midwest -

This time, however, I will not be spending most of my time in Maricopa County and in Phoenix. Going to Tucson brings about an interesting dichotomy: it’s still new, but it will feel like revisiting a place that shaped the beginning years of my life.

The Winter Conference on Plasma Spectrochemistry is in a similar vein. The conference will cover well-established techniques, such as inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), laser ablation (LA), and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). But the research being conducted with these techniques is new, and I am excited to attend several of these talks to learn more about how spectroscopy is being applied in industry to bring about important changes.

The Winter Conference kicks off on Monday, January 15, with a plenary lecture titled, “Revealing the Invisible: Single-Event ICP-MS Analysis of Micro/Nano-Structures,” that will be delivered by Eduardo Bolea-Fernandez of the University of Zaragoza. Bolea-Fernandez is the recipient of this year’s Spectroscopy Emerging Leader in Atomic Spectroscopy, and he received the Young Investigator Award in Plasma Spectrochemistry back in 2022 (2). Our editorial director, Caroline Hroncich, will present Bolea-Fernandez with this award.

The Winter Conference will also contain several sessions focused on topics in plasma spectrochemistry. This includes the following:

  • Imaging Plasma Mass Spectrometry, Biodistribution Analysis, and Single Cell Analysis
  • Elemental Imaging
  • Elemental Speciation
  • Novel Plasma Spectrochemical Instrumentation, Microplasmas
  • High Precision and Accuracy Isotope Analysis and Its Applications
  • Workshop on Laser-Assisted Spectrochemistry and Its Applications
  • Laser-Assisted Spectrochemistry
  • Workshop on Novel Plasma Instrumentation
  • Glow Discharge Spectroscopy
  • Biomedical, Clinical ICP-MS
  • Environmental Analysis
  • Nuclear Elemental Mass Spectrometry

Apart from these sessions, the conference will also feature six 2024 Heritage Lectures, which I hope to attend. The speakers in this conference series will be Michael Blades, Robert Jones, John Burgener, Thomas Walczyk, Volker Hoffmann, and Greg Eiden.

Michael Blades’s Heritage Lecture is titled, “From Mount Horlick to the Islands of Langarhans – An Analytical Journey.” Blades has done extensive research in atmospheric pressure photoionization sources (APPI). In one of his previous studies, Blades and others explored using a field-free APPI source that can provide enhanced sensitivity for a wide range of liquid chromatography–MS (LC–MS) applications (3).

Robert Jones’s Heritage Lecture is titled, “CDC’s Clinical ICP-MS Laboratory – Accomplishments, Innovations, and Public Health Successes.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been in the news regularly over the past few years during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be interesting to see if Jones touches upon any of them directly or indirectly. One of Jones’s recent studies explored using quadrupole ICP-MS (Q-ICP-MS) to measure thorium in urine and demonstrated how the technique could be used to monitor environmental and human health conditions (4).

John Burgener’s Heritage Lecture will discuss his work with ICP instrumentation. His talk is titled, “How Helping My Father Repair and Build Spectrometers Led to ICP Advancements and Development of the Burgener Nebulizer.” Burgener’s background is unique, which I am hoping will lead to a lively Q&A at the conclusion of his talk.

Thomas Walczyk’s Heritage Lecture will focus on biomedicine. His talk titled, “Crossing Borders: Adventures of an “Isotopist” in the World of Biomedicine,” will focus on his work in this space, particularly during his time at the National University of Singapore, where he currently works.

Volker Hoffmann’s talk is titled, “Did I Choose Glow Discharge or Did Glow Discharge Choose Me?”, and this talk will kick off the “Glow Discharge Spectroscopy” session at the Winter Conference on Friday morning.

And finally, Gregory Eiden’s talk is titled, “Reflections on Trace Isotope Measurement R&D in the U.S. DOE National Labs.” Eiden’s background in the laboratory developing instruments and methods is extensive, particularly when it comes to MS. His talk on Saturday morning will not be one to miss.

With the number of plenary sessions, talks, and awards given out at the Winter Conference Plasma Spectrochemistry, the stage is set for an informative, engaging week in Tucson. I am looking forward to connecting with many professionals in the industry and learning more about the ongoing research that is influencing scientific development.


  1. EWCPS, 20th European Winter Conference on Plasma Spectrochemistry. EWCPS 2025. (accessed January 9th, 2024).
  2. Spectroscopy Staff, Eduardo Bolea-Fernandez to Receive Young Investigator Award in Plasma Spectrochemistry at the 2022 Winter Conference. Spectroscopy. (accessed January 9th, 2024).
  3. McCulloch, R. D.; Robb, D.; Blades, M. Development Of A Next-Generation Field-Free Atmospheric Pressure Photoionization Source For Liquid Chromatography/mass Spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 201630, 339.
  4. Liu, Y.; Xiao, G.; Jones, R. L. Rapid Determination of Thorium in Urine by Quadrupole Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (Q-ICP-MS). J. Radioanal. Nucl. Chem. 2022, 331 (9), 3957–3964. DOI:10.1007/s10967-022-08408-9
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John Burgener | Photo Credit: © Will Wetzel
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Robert Jones speaks to Spectroscopy about his work at the CDC. | Photo Credit: © Will Wetzel
John Burgener of Burgener Research Inc.