Blurring the Boundaries
Sitting Down With… Caroline West, Associate Professor at the Institut de Chimie Organique et Analytique, Université d'Orléans, France
Why did you gravitate towards analytical science?
I initially wanted to work in forensics, but analytical chemistry soon drew my attention. Even if you specialize in just one technique, there are so many different applications areas that you could never grow tired of it.
When students are considering analytical chemistry, I’ll try to convince them by saying: “Whatever your personal interests or drive – whether it is sports, health or the environment – there is something for everyone!”
What first drew you to supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC)?
More chance than anything. I ended up completed my PhD in SFC, but knew little about it when starting my studies. It was exciting to explore such an “unknown.” Today, I tell my students that SFC is a technique worth learning purely because of its complexity – there are so many optimization parameters and unusual effects. If you take the time to learn SFC, it’s going to be beneficial to your understanding of any other separation method.
In terms of added value to analytical science, the relevance of SFC at the preparative scale has been recognized for about 20 years – especially for chiral separations in the pharmaceutical industry – because of its economic and ecological advantages. But where SFC comes into its own is its ability to complement other techniques. For example, in drug impurity profiling, you want to make sure that you visualize all components of the sample. If you use just one method, you may miss something important. Orthogonal methods like SFC shine for such applications.
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