Walter H. Colsman : Chief Executive Officer

Walter H. Colsman

Chief Executive Officer

Walter serves as BrightSpec’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  Mr. Colsman has over 30 years of business experience including over 15 years in the life sciences field.  Walter has most recently been advising startups and investors in the healthcare field and served as CFO of CereVasc LLC, a development stage medical device company.  Walter was a senior equity analyst at Columbia-Threadneedle Investments, where he followed the life science tools sector for 12 years. Prior to Columbia, Walter worked at Standard Pacific Capital and Palo Alto Investors, hedge funds in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before working in the investing field, Walter gained business experience as a founder and executive at several internet startups.  Walter also advised businesses on strategy at Bain & Company and the Lucas Group, as well as an analyst in financial planning for Pepsi-Cola International. Walter earned his bachelor’s degree (engineering) at Dartmouth and his M.B.A from Harvard Business School.

Dave McDaniel : Co-founder, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Software Architect

Dave McDaniel

Co-founder, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Software Architect

Dave concentrates on operational and technology platform development for BrightSpec, including algorithm development, information architecture, and mechanical engineering and design. Before co-founding BrightSpec, Dave spent nearly a decade in key roles at early stage companies in medical devices, distributed power generation, finance, and web applications development. Dave has extensive experience in virtual product design and optimization through computer-aided-engineering utilizing CAD, finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). He has also served in experiment design and manufacturing roles for viscoelastic material characterizations used in vehicle crash worthiness design, precision manufacturing and metrology work in a clean room environment for assembly of metal-ceramic alloys. Dave was introduced to large data sets and numerical methods as part of the Computational Group at UVa’s Center for Applied Biomechanics. BS in Mechanical Engineering and Masters in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Contact Dave: dave.mcdaniel(at)

Justin Neill, Ph.D. : Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer

Justin Neill, Ph.D.

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer

Justin brings substantial experience in applied spectroscopy to BrightSpec. He completed his PhD in the Pate Lab at the University of Virginia in 2011 and spent the following 2 years as a postdoctoral researcher at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor analyzing interstellar spectra from the Hershel Space Telescope. As a co-inventor on one of the BrightSpec instrument patents, Justin has an in-depth knowledge of product design for both microwave and millimeter wave spectrometers and how to deploy them to solve new analytical challenges.

Contact Justin: justin.neill(at)

Christopher J Thompson, Ph.D. : Director - Business Development

Christopher J Thompson, Ph.D.

Director - Business Development

Dr. Thompson joined BrightSpec in August 2020 as the Director of Business Development responsible for customer collaborations, implementation of the overall business strategy in developing markets, and interfacing with internal departments to ensure our customer needs are met.

Chris brings 17 years of industry experience working at Bruker Daltonics in Billerica, MA in the field of ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry.  Initially a hardware R&D scientist, his research then focused on developing new analytical workflows and applications for FT-ICR mass spectrometry.  Following these roles, he led global business development for the flagship FT-ICR MS instrument series.

During his tenure at Bruker, FT-ICR MS grew beyond a niche academic market into being the industrial standard for both MALDI Imaging and Petroleomics.  Additionally, Chris helped lead the implementation of high-end mass spectrometry into the foundational areas of metabolomics/phenomics, environmental and green energy, forensics, and pharmaceutical applications ranging from small molecules to intact protein complexes.

Dr. Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in both Chemistry and Mathematics from Salve Regina University, as well as a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he worked on the spectroscopy and dynamics of gas-phase ions with Professor Ricardo Metz.
Alex Mikhonin, Ph.D. : Senior Application Scientist

Alex Mikhonin, Ph.D.

Senior Application Scientist

Alex is responsible for driving development and optimization of the BrightSpec industrial applications product portfolio. This includes identifying analytical needs of BrightSpec customers; improving the existing products, applications, and/or analytical methodologies; performing technology and economic evaluations of new commercial applications including business case development; developing and implementing analytical method validation metrics; as well as providing a general technical and marketing support for BrightSpec products. Alex completed his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, PA. Prior to BrightSpec, he worked 9+ years as an industrial analytical scientist at BioTools and Alcoa.

Contact Alex: alex.mikhonin(at)

Reilly Sonstrom, Ph.D. : Analytical Development Scientist

Reilly Sonstrom, Ph.D.

Analytical Development Scientist

Reilly earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Cell Biology/Biochemistry from Bucknell University in 2016. She completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry at University of Virginia in 2020 under Brooks Pate. Her dissertation focused on using molecular rotational resonance (MRR) spectroscopy to perform the structure analysis of molecules of high importance to pharmaceutical chemistry with a focus on isomers that are difficult to analyze using existing techniques, including analysis of diastereomers and regioisomers, enantiomers, and isotopic isomers.

Contact Reilly: reilly.sonstrom(at)

Matt Muckle, MS : Co-founder, Software Developer and Applications Scientist

Matt Muckle, MS

Co-founder, Software Developer and Applications Scientist

Matt is responsible for project management and for software development. His responsibilities include specifications management, component design, experiment design, and critically, the user interface development for Edgar, the BrightSpec software suite for instrument control, analysis, and spectral library management. He received his MS and BS in Chemistry from the University of Virginia, where his research work was in the design and implementation of microwave and millimeter wave instruments.

Contact Matt: matt.muckle(at)

Voislav Blagojevic, Ph.D. : Senior Development Scientist

Voislav Blagojevic, Ph.D.

Senior Development Scientist

Voislav is responsible for the development of sampling methodologies for Brightspec to broaden the range of compounds that can be analyzed using molecular rotational resonance (MRR) spectroscopy. He will be focused on improving the existing sampling techniques as well as developing new ones.

He completed his PhD in Chemistry at York University, ON, Canada and has broad experience in a variety of mass spectrometric techniques. Following his PhD, he co-founded Vida Fresh Air, a startup in the automotive industry, and served as Chief Technology Officer for 6 years. Before joining Brigthspec, he spent two years at the Proteomics Center of Excellence, Northwestern University.
Brooks Pate, Ph.D. : Co-founder

Brooks Pate, Ph.D.


Brooks H. Pate is a William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemistry at the University of Virginia, and co-founder of BrightSpec. His group's research focuses on the development of instrumentation for molecular rotational resonance (MRR) spectroscopy in analytical, physical, and astronomical applications. He developed the chirped-pulse Fourier transform (CP-FT) technique, which dramatically increased the speed and sensitivity with which MRR spectra could be measured and has reinvigorated the field of molecular rotational spectroscopy. Professor Pate was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2001, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and was named the University of Virginia Licensing and Ventures Group's Innovator of the Year in 2017. He has authored five patents on MRR instrumentation and measurement techniques.

Advisory Board

B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D. : Scientific Advisory Board

B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D.

Scientific Advisory Board

Chair and Professor, Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering
Virginia Commonwealth University

Frank Gupton has more than 30 years of senior executive experience in pharmaceutical science and process development. At VCU, his research group is focused on the development and application of new technologies that will streamline organic synthesis through process intensification. The goal of process intensification is to increase the overall efficiency and selectivity of chemical reactions by using novel chemistry and/ or running reactions under more extreme process conditions (temperature and pressure). They are interested in applying these principals towards the development of new catalyst systems that can be used in concert with continuous chemical processing (flow reactor technology) to streamline the synthesis of pharmaceutical active ingredients (API’s).

Prior to taking his current role at VCU, Frank was Executive Director, Process Development for Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals, Inc. and previously held senior management roles at Hoechst Celanese. In his current role at VCU, Frank collaborates with researchers at the University of Washington, Florida State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the Medicine for All Initiative. His work is funded by a $4.4mm grant in January 2015 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. The grant supports the Gupton Group’s work to reduce the manufacturing cost of nevirapine, a first-line therapy for the treatment of AIDS. In June, the initiative was awarded a further $5mm grant to find ways to drive down the costs of manufacturing the AIDS drugs tenofovir and darunavir. Darunavir is known as a second-line therapy and is often prescribed once a patient develops a resistance to first-line therapies.


Daniel W. Armstrong, Ph.D. : Scientific Advisory Board

Daniel W. Armstrong, Ph.D.

Scientific Advisory Board

Daniel W. Armstrong is the R.A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Arlington. His research has spanned a wide scope, including HPLC, GC, SFC, and seminal work in enantiomeric separations and ionic liquids. His theoretical contributions spanned pseudophase, ultrafast and modeling in separations.  Most recently, Dr. Armstrong has been focused on MRR.

Dr. Armstrong has over 700 publications, including 32 book chapters, one book (“Use of Ordered Media in Chemical Separations”) and 33 patents. He has been names by the Scientific Citation Index as one of the world’s most highly cited scientists, and he has given ~ 580 invited/keynote/plenary lectures and colloquia worldwide. His work has been cited over 41,000 times and his Hirsch index is ~ 103 (G.S.).

Daniel Armstrong is considered the “Father” of micelle and cyclodextrin-based separations, he elucidated the first chiral recognition mechanism by cyclodextrins, he was the first to develop macrocyclic antibiotics as chiral selectors, and he is one of the world’s leading authorities on the theory, mechanism, and use of enantioselective molecular interactions.  Over 30 different LC and GC columns that were originally developed in his laboratories have been commercialized and/or copied worldwide.  His work and columns were in part responsible for the chromatography and electrophoresis-led revolution in chiral separations over the last two and one half decades.  Currently, the columns, chiral selectors and techniques he developed dominate the work of analytical enantiomeric separations.

He has developed the most effective way to characterize the solvent properties of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs).  This has proven to be an essential and effective way to explain the effect of RTILs on organic reactions, and in various analytical methodologies.  Surfactant aggregation to form normal micelles in RTILs was demonstrated.  The first MALDI-MS matrices and high stability GC stationary phases based on RTILs were developed in his laboratories and were recently commercialize by Supelco/Sigma/Aldrich.  The new enhanced mass spectrometry technique of PIESI (Paired Ion Electrospray Ionization) was developed in his laboratory and is one of the most  sensitive methods for ultra-trace anion analyses and speciation.  He developed the first high efficiency CE separation approach for microorganisms (i.e., bacterial, viruses, fungi, etc.).  This will extend the realm of separation science into the mainstream of biology and colloid science.

He founded or co-founded two separate companies focused on production of novel separation media and using them for difficult analyses.