The Power List 2020 – Europe
Full Professor of Analytical Chemistry, University of Messina, Italy
Future of the field: Trends that will shape the future of separation science? Miniaturization, of course, as well as speed and automation. The ever-increasing levels of regulations across all sectors of analytical science mean there is a greater need for increased sample throughput and, in turn, laboratory productivity. I believe that more and more effort will be put into the design of instruments that are simpler to operate and maintain, as well as miniaturized portable devices capable of addressing tasks of environmental concern. The quality and consistency of analytical results will be improved, with less demand in terms of skilled personnel. Looking further ahead, I can imagine open space laboratories in which robotic stations are positioned, with automated analytical platforms that integrate sample preparation. Human resources could then be better allocated, for the development of techniques that are more versatile, easier to use, and with smaller environmental footprints.
Dinner guest: Without a doubt, Marcel Golay (1902-1989) would be the first name on my list. Anyone who works in the field of chromatographic techniques knows Golay for his pioneering work in the field of GC. He introduced the theory of dispersion in open tubular columns, and demonstrated their efficacy at the second International Symposium on Gas Chromatography in 1958. His outstanding research, rigorous yet shaped with innovation, has always been a source of inspiration for my own research, and has driven many of my achievements in the field of fast GC, as well as multidimensional chromatography. You can imagine how pleased I was to be awarded with the prestigious Marcel Golay Award at the 41st ISCC and 14th GCxGC Symposium in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2017! Yet I would have traded the medal for a dinner with Golay – I've always been fascinated by the prospect of talking to one of the most influential scientists ever.
Time travel destination: That’s difficult! I think I would travel to the future, not a precise day, but somewhere in the next two or three decades. I’d be curious to see the impact I would have made, if any – and not purely from a scientific standpoint. Of course I would like to know where separation science is headed, but the biggest reward would be knowing whether the people I have trained will benefit from my teachings. As the coordinator of a research group, I am challenged every day to find the unique attributes and talents of each individual in my team, and to capitalize on these.