“Achieving greatness in the face of adversity” – what does it really mean?
Rich Whitworth |
I feel both honored and humbled to be sat in the editor’s chair this month. It is certainly not unusual for us to feature the lives of great analytical scientists, but this issue is particularly rich in history and touching memories.
It was with sadness that I learned of Georges Guiochon’s death. Georges finally succumbed to neuromuscular failure caused by Post Polio Syndrome on October 21, 2014. It is instantly clear that the field of separation science has lost one of its greatest pioneers. Georges was one of our early “Sitting Down With” interviewees, and though I only met him once very briefly, his name has come up in conversation countless times – and will no doubt continue to do so. To remember Georges, we could list his many accolades, count his top-cited papers, or refer to honorary degrees – but to do his memory true justice, we collected the thoughts of fellow scientists who had the pleasure of knowing him well. Of course, they were not simply colleagues; they were also friends. For me, the sentiments expressed on page 16 could not paint a better picture of a man who was so very fondly respected.
When we asked Georges about the favorite moments of his career in 2013, his answer was clear: personal interactions and helping people. “I brought people to work with me from Central Europe, Russia, Cuba, Iran, China – and that is what has given me the greatest satisfaction.”
You will find Eva Smolková-Keulemansová in this month’s final pages. Like Georges, Eva’s childhood collided with the Second World War. Despite having her school years cut short by time spent in several infamous concentration camps, Eva returned to Prague to start an astonishing academic career in analytical chemistry. Her story – especially in light of her early years – is truly inspiring. Now well into her ninth decade, Eva offers several words of wisdom for “youngsters”. Once again, the importance of camaraderie is strong; Eva’s friends – past and present – include many esteemed scientists, and she notes that forging such relationships has been a great source of pleasure.
Though Eva’s grounding philosophy states that “my eyes are in the front of my head; therefore, I need to look towards the future,” it is clear to me that many of us could do well to take a look over the shoulder of the great and the good, to understand and learn from the path they once walked along.