Associate Professor, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Fears? The difficulty of finding funding for fundamental research for more “common” techniques, such as chromatography; it not only stifles further innovation and development, but also decreases the overall knowledge of the (basic) theory of these techniques.
Challenges? Chromatography seems to have reached a limit in separation power without the implementation of drastic technological changes (instrumentation and column technology). 3D printing technology seems promising, but I think it will probably still take at least a decade before it becomes feasible to print high performance columns.
Predictions? I expect to see more work towards user-friendly miniaturization in chromatography. This will resolve certain fundamental issues (such as viscous heating), but will also improve compatibility with emerging technologies, such as 3D printing, which can’t print large volume structures with high resolution.
Mentors? Professor Desmet was my promotor, mentor, and biggest supporter throughout my career (and still is).
Advice? Explore the unexpected! Don’t run away from strange results in your data, but try to figure out where it is coming from. Often the reason will be bland or you will never figure it out, but on some occasions you find real gems and even end up with a whole new research topic or grant proposal.