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History of ISIMS



Before 1992, the community of IMS researchers, developers, manufacturers, and prospective users had met in several general conferences including a 1988 Meeting of the Chemical Congress of North America in Toronto Ontario (a joint meeting of chemical societies in Canada, Mexico and the USA) and at a FAASC meeting in 1990 in Anaheim California.  Another small meeting of IMS researchers, largely with discussion of details of IMS technology, occurred at Snow Bird, Utah in 1991.  These meetings highlighted the isolation and lack of communication generally felt by those working in IMS and the need for a dedicated program where discussions could be frank, informal, and mutually helpful.  The idea of a conference for discussions and exchanges of ideas and findings was established during the Snow Bird meeting.


The first conference solely devoted to ion mobility spectrometry was held in Mescalaro, New Mexico, USA and was initiated by C.S Harden (Edgewood Area, Aberdeen Proving Grounds) and sponsored by the US Army.  A contract was awarded to G.A. Eiceman (New Mexico State Univ) to organize and run a 4-day workshop.  Details of the workshop were formulated from Jan 92 to April 92 and was held 21-25 June 1992.  The philosophy of this first meeting was: those attending the meeting agreed to present findings from individual teams, groups, or companies.  The intention of this meeting was for a broad discussion of topics of IMS by users and investigators with a voice for everyone.  The total number of attendees was ~30 and the schedule provided ample time for interaction and discussion.  Several forums were helpful in identifying weaknesses of the technology and science, in bringing updates from laboratories around the world, and more. Countries of the former USSR were not represented at this meeting and the existence of these teams was recognized only in late spring 1992, too late for travel arrangements.  There was a consensus that the meeting should be held annually and that meetings in Europe would be needed to enlarge participation from those outside of North America.  Since then, meetings have been held alternately in Europe or North America.

Another feature of the conference, still preserved in current meetings, is the relaxed tone of the meeting with an intention to disclose details of studies without pressures sometime present in large meetings of national or international conferences.  Incomplete and progressive studies have been encouraged.  Another facet in the original meeting was the location- a venue of unusual natural beauty or historic interest where families could also participate and where the facilities promoted informal interactions between participants.  This differs from most professional meetings.  The phrase workshop was chosen in part to represent the concept of a meeting of activity and joint growth of the community.  The name was changed in the mid-1990s to reflect growth in numbers and slight changes in emphasis.
After the relaxed and informal schedule of 1992, an organized extracurricular program has developed as an integrated part of the program and involves entire families.  

International Society for Ion Mobility Spectrometry (website:

A constitution and paperwork for the society was organized by those who had previously hosted a conference (the defacto governing board of the Society) and submitted by Jorg Baumbach for recognition in Germany as a Scholarly Society on August 21, 1996.  The structure of the society was organized through a steering committee.  In 2002, the founding documents were revised to resemble the bylaws and constitution of an unincorporated non-profit organization in the United States with elected officers.  The Society was granted non-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service in the US in 2010.  Additionally, the Society was registered in 2010 as a non-profit corporation in the State of New Mexico.

An early emphasis in the Society was the documentation of developments and a journal was established and produced by Jorg Baumbach  from 1998 to 2006 as the Journal of the International Society for Ion Mobility Spectrometry (ISSN 1435-6163).  Print and electronic versions of the journal were produced. The peer-reviewed International Journal for Ion Mobility Spectrometry was published by Springer from 2008 to 2020. While it saddens the Society to see the termination of the Journal, we are thankful that the Journal served its purpose in providing a publication establishment for IMSers in the early days of IMS, when it was difficult to publish IMS-related articles in peer-reviewed journals. Today, IMS is a widely accepted analytical technique and IMSers no longer face obstacles in publishing. We are proud to see IMS articles in journals of analytical chemistry and across many other disciplines. 

A website for the Society was begun at ISAS in Dortmund Germany and refreshed ( by Timo Silonsaari in Finland at Environics Oy.

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