The 25th anniversary of ExTech, the International Symposium for Advances in Extraction Technologies, was held on the beautiful island of Tenerife, Spain, from July 18–21, 2023. The honorary chairman of the event was Janusz Pawliszyn, who founded ExTech in 1999, at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada.
ExTech is undoubtedly the largest conference dedicated to extraction technology, a field within separation chemistry that has seen remarkable growth over the past three decades. It brings together researchers working on pre-chromatographic separations, that save chromatographic systems and instrumentation from the “garbage in-garbage out” effect while enhancing instrumental performance through cleanup and preconcentration. This year, we celebrated this symposium’s important anniversary through an exquisitely organized event that gathered 222 participants from 25 countries with a total of 3 plenary lectures, 21 keynote lectures, 62 oral communications and 174 posters.
The symposium opened with a plenary lecture by Pawliszyn and Stig Pedersen-Bjergaard that updated the audience on the latest advances in the microextraction field and provided important insights on the future of the field. The two plenary speakers specifically highlighted the importance of incorporating the fundamentals of extraction processes into graduate and undergraduate textbooks, to train the next generation of scientists and unify teaching strategies for this important and ever-growing field of separation chemistry. The plenary concluded with an important message: “When the next generation of scientists enters the regulatory affairs, the analytical manufacturers, and the analytical laboratories, they will have a very strong sustainability commitment, and will for sure facilitate the Green Paradigm Shift. SPME and LPME (respectively, solid and liquid phase microextraction) and many other ideas discussed at ExTech 2023 will be their initial scientific platform. Therefore, what we do now will be very important in 10–15 years!”
The symposium also dedicated eight oral sessions to young investigators, providing 29 scientists under the age of 35 an opportunity to present their work alongside leading scientists from around the world. This initiative aimed to encourage young scientists’ participation, fostering interactions with, and learning from, experienced researchers. More than half of the 174 poster communications at the conference were presented by young scientists. On this topic, symposium chairwoman Veronica Pino commented, “Young researchers are presenting very important innovations in the field, and this is something that I want to highlight because we wanted to encourage presentations by younger researchers to show what they are doing and what they can offer to our community. At the same time, these young scientists have an opportunity to closely interact with seniors and this environment is fantastic for their development and to gain confidence in what they are doing.”
Symposium chairman Javier Hernández-Borges also commented on the aftermath of ExTech 2023, saying, “We, the organizing committee of ExTech, are proud of the overall attendance of the symposium, especially considering about half of the attendees are PhD students. This testifies that research in the extraction technology field is very active and vibrant, and we are truly impressed with the quality of the oral and poster communications delivered by these young scientists.”
By the end of ExTech, Hernández-Borges delivered a powerful take-home message for those young scientists: “Continue to attend conferences like ExTech to network with your community (especially with senior scientists in the field) and keep updated with the most recent trends in the field. Do your research with curiosity, professionalism, and ethics. Ethics are nowadays one of the most important aspects of academic research to produce high-quality and reliable results. Believe in yourself and be proud of the great work you all are doing. Be open to new challenges and be bold when thinking about new solutions for chemical analysis, this is how we achieve scientific progress.”
I bet by the end of this article, you will want to know where the next ExTech will be organized and join this vibrant community of separation scientists. Well...I have good news! Elena Stashenko of the Industrial University of Santander in Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia and Milton Rosero-Moreano of University of Caldas in Manizales, Caldas, Colombia announced that the 26th iteration of ExTech will be organized next year in Bucaramanga, Colombia. I am sure we will be in for another excellent meeting and innovative discussions on extraction technologies. Stay tuned for more updates!
Emanuela Gionfriddo is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry of The University of Toledo, Ohio. Direct correspondence to: firstname.lastname@example.org