An Interview with Laszlo Torma

By Wendy Rasmussen

With Laszlo retiring on December 12th, I thought it would be fun to do a short interview with him to learn a bit about his experiences and his plans for retirement. We have all really enjoyed working with him over the years and even though we’re a little sad to a friend leave the company, we’re also very happy and excited that Laszlo and his wife Sondra can enjoy all the wonderful things about living in Montana –skiing, viewing wolves in Yellowstone National Park, and delicious steak dinners all come to mind…

Laszlo Torma enjoys the sights and sounds of "Venice"

Laszlo officially joined Pickering in July of 2002 as Director of Technical Relations, but we knew him even before then. He worked at the Montana Department of Agriculture for 35 years (from 1965-2000), where he was one of Pickering’s best customers. I remember meeting Laszlo for the first time at a Midwest AOAC meeting in 2000. Very soon after I came to admire his love and respect for the science and the people.  I have learned a great deal from him over the years.

WR: What do you look forward to most in retirement?
LT: Relaxing and trying to learn more about computers. Hopefully still be able to go skiing


WR: How did you get started in science?
LT: My uncle was a veterinarian who enjoyed toxicology. Whenever I had a chance (that is, not going to soccer camp or playing) I was around him, “helping” him. He directed me toward the sciences like toxicology and chemistry.

WR: Favorite city/state/location to travel
LT: I have to be selfish and say Budapest (laughing)  But in the US, New Orleans is always fun

WR: What was the most unusual test/sample/situation in the lab?
LT: Stomach contents.  And sometimes we received Grizzly bear saliva to test. It was part of a forensic case to determine whether the bear had been poisoned with strychnine. Some of the bears had indeed been poisoned.

WR: What are one or two of your accomplishments which you are most proud of?
LT: At the time when I joined Pickering, somebody had started false rumors about the company which were saying that we were closing shop; successfully put that to rest. I worked hard to put Pickering “back on the map”.  Also, the activities with AOAC, the state Ag labs, and also EPA & FDA activities. Of our activities with AOAC, I am especially proud of our Award for our Single Laboratory Validation of the Year (for Multi-Residue Mycotoxin analysis). We worked very hard on that.DSC_7505

WR: How did you meet Michael Pickering and how did you become a Pickering customer?
LT: I met Michael at one of the Midwest AOAC Meetings in the late 1990s. Laszlo_Michael_MWAOAC
Nancy Thiex, who was with South Dakota State University at the time, introduced me to him. We had a homemade Post Column derivatization system which was large and cumbersome. After talking with Michael, we decided to purchase Pickering systems for carbamates and amino acid analysis.

WR: What is your fondest memory of working with Pickering Labs?
LT: Working with all of you. Overall we had a very good relationship and I enjoyed working with most of the peopleMINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

WR: Who will keep us company at the Tiki Hut in Florida?
LT: (Laughs) You carry that torch very well. Just think of me when you’re there

Even though officially Laszlo has retired, he promises to keep in touch between ski runs.  Feel free to contact him directly until January 10, 2015. His email is

Wendy, Maria, Mike, David, Saji, and Rebecca are committed to carry on Laszlo’s good work and will continue to stay active at the meetings within the analytical chemistry community.  We certainly have some very big shoes to fill!

Here’s to a very happy, long and healthy retirement for Laszlo!

All the best,
You can also contact me with any questions:


2 thoughts on “An Interview with Laszlo Torma”

  1. Very nice interview, Wendy and Laci. We’ll miss seeing you at meetings, Laci! And happy retirement! BTW, I do remember introducing you to Michael. That was a long time ago!

Comments are closed.