30th Anniversary: Celebrating 30 Years of Microscopical Problem Solving

This Sunday, November 6th, will mark Microtrace’s 30th Anniversary.

From its founding 30 years ago as a sole proprietorship in the basement of Skip Palenik’s home, Microtrace has grown to a full-service microscopy and microanalytical laboratory that specializes in the identification and characterization of unknown substances.  Over the years, we have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of fascinating cases, nearly every imaginable material, and we have been supported by clients around the world who represent virtually every industry. Microtrace has built an international reputation for our scientific approach to solving problems for clients in industrial, legal, governmental and other domains- providing customized, unbiased, scientific analyses and interpretation designed to directly address a wide range of questoins. Microtrace has developed credibility for not only providing answers, but also providing scientifically valid results that are prepared to withstand both the scrutiny of legal proceedings and the critique of a scientific peer review.

Microtrace founder, Skip Palenik around the time of Microtrace’s founding in 1992, and continuing his microscopical explorations in 2022.

On November 6th, 1992, Skip Palenik founded Microtrace to be a state-of-the-art laboratory’s laboratory, a place where logic, science and the microscope could be used together, without prejudice or bias, to solve real-world problems.  Back in 1992, Skip joked that, “I always wanted to open my own lab, so people wouldn’t touch my stuff.” Since that time, Microtrace has built a world-class staff of scientists with backgrounds that include chemistry, geology, forensic science, material science, and even botany, zoology, and nuclear materials. This diverse team of experts ensures that we have the expertise needed to address the most challenging questions from cases around the world and the ability to find answers that have eluded other laboratories.

Microtrace’s foundation began far earlier, when Skip’s parents bought him his first microscope when he was eight years old. Sensing the youth’s passion for science, his father built him (and his late brother Mark) their first laboratory shortly thereafter, complete with a hook-up to the main gas line for Bunsen burners and a fume hood.  Since then, a laboratory has traveled with Skip to each home he has lived in (and even to Germany where he served in Army Intelligence).  The experience in these home labs formed the basis for both the physical layout and, more importantly, the philosophy that continues to motivate our approach to each of our clients’ problems.

Following closely in Skip’s vision is Dr. Chris Palenik, who grew up thinking that every home had a library and a laboratory, has developed his own passion for finding answers through the applications of microscopy and microanalysis to problem solving. Chris continues to expand the traditional foundations of our laboratory into higher resolution areas of microanalysis, including transmission electron microscopy, field emission SEM, and confocal Raman microspectroscopy.  By melding traditional forensic trace evidence analysis with a new realm of nanoparticles and nanotraces, Microtrace continues to push forward the capabilities of logical, scientific problem solving.

We thank you all for three decades of support and look forward to the next thirty years of advocating for “the science of trace evidence.”

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