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Techniques & Tools Liquid Chromatography, Gas Chromatography

Deep Impact

Every now and again, when the stars align or the moon is blue, a deeper theme magically emerges from a single issue of The Analytical Scientist without warning or, candidly, much intervention. And so it is this month. 

The sad passing of Jack Kirkland (1925–2016) – and the many reasons to celebrate his life – added a final profound piece to the puzzle. In particular, Lloyd Snyder refers back to a comment he made exactly two years ago, when considering societal impact: “It is clear that Jack Kirkland deserves real respect. The widespread use of his columns, with all of their related benefits, more accurately describes Jack’s contributions to science than his impressive list of publications, patents, awards and other honors” (1). Kirkland will forever be known as one of the ‘fathers’ of high performance liquid chromatography; its ubiquitous use today makes his societal impact difficult to measure.

In the same issue, we “Sit Down With” Harold McNair (. Even before completing (or choosing, for that matter) his PhD, McNair was already having a practical impact: “My project for the summer [at Amoco Refinery] was to find liquid phases that would separate butane-1 and isobutylene. I assembled Amoco’s first simple GC and, by the end of the summer, I had succeeded – and my name was on two patent applications.” McNair’s crowning achievement is likely his book, Basic Gas Chromatography, which, as Nicholas Snow succinctly notes, “advanced chromatography from the realm of the specialists and made it accessible to practitioners” (2).

It is interesting to note the emphasis that both Kirkland and McNair have always placed on education – a surefire way of passing on what it means to be truly successful to the next generation. The cascade of subsequent practically-minded analytical chemists has likely had further (societal) impact that is even more difficult to measure.

The focus is once again on ‘practical’ impact. Elizabeth New and Dominic Hare conclude, after a discussion on the future role of analytical scientists, “Those who can close the gap between analytical development and practical impact will shape the future of humanity.” A bold statement that is exemplified several times within these pages. Indeed, you can turn to the story of the Messina Group, where it is clear that tenacity in solving real-world challenges has made them so successful – and helped them quickly bounce back from tough times. Perhaps Davy Petit, when describing Luigi Mondello, hits the nail on the head when it comes to a skillset for success: “the ability to translate creative ideas and concepts into impactful tools or applications that drive our world forward.”

Rich Whitworth


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  1. L Snyder, “Who’s on top?” The Analytical Scientist, 1013, 18 (2013).
  2. K Schug, N Snow, C Palmer, V Remcho, and L Polite, “Paying tribute to ‘Doc’”, The Analytical Scientist, 0916, 34–37 (2016).
About the Author
Rich Whitworth

Rich Whitworth completed his studies in medical biochemistry at the University of Leicester, UK, in 1998. To cut a long story short, he escaped to Tokyo to spend five years working for the largest English language publisher in Japan. "Carving out a career in the megalopolis that is Tokyo changed my outlook forever. When seeing life through such a kaleidoscopic lens, it's hard not to get truly caught up in the moment." On returning to the UK, after a few false starts with grey, corporate publishers, Rich was snapped up by Texere Publishing, where he spearheaded the editorial development of The Analytical Scientist. "I feel honored to be part of the close-knit team that forged The Analytical Scientist – we've created a very fresh and forward-thinking publication." Rich is now also Content Director of Texere Publishing, the company behind The Analytical Scientist.

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