Remembering Georges Guiochon
“One of the giants of separation science,” Georges Guiochon (1931–2014) will certainly be missed. Equally certainly, he will continue to inspire and educate future generations. Here, seven friends, colleagues and collaborators remember Georges with great fondness.
Pat Sandra, Barry Karger, Peter Schoenmakers, Attila Felinger, Wolfgang Lindner |
With the passing of Georges Guiochon, analytical chemistry – and especially the separation science community – has lost a major figure. In the field of fundamental chromatography, Georges was the leader by far, and his contributions have been seminal. He was active to the very end. In 2014, by October he had published a total of 27 papers, with others submitted. We were all impressed with his brilliance and enthusiasm for his research.
Georges’ loss is very personal to me, as I have known him for over 50 years. We first met in the early 1960s, when he was interested in using data that I published with my PhD thesis on time normalization in GC. That moment started a lasting friendship. His mentor was Istvan Halasz, who also had a great influence on my career. I spent a sabbatical with Georges at the Ecole Polytechnique in 1972. Even in those early days he was recognized as a major figure in chromatography.
Georges moved to the US in 1984 – first to Georgetown and then, in 1987, to Tennessee. He used to joke, “how can a Frenchman possibly live in Knoxville?” It was around this time that he suggested that I start the HPCE symposium series. I followed his advice with the first meeting in 1989. In 1991, I wrote the preface for the special issue in the Journal of Chromatography, honoring Georges’ 60th birthday (1). There you will find much about Georges career up to that point.
I have wonderful memories of the times spent with Georges and Lois in different places around the world. A special memory is the trip to Egypt in 1990 with Csaba Horvath and Fred Regnier. As Lois set it up through the US government, Georges was happy to be the tag-along spouse. Georges was a gourmet, especially a connessoir of wine, and it was always a joy to have dinner with Lois and Georges.
In closing, it’s always hard to lose a colleague and friend. His contributions to the field of chromatography will remain for a long time with us. His impact on science has been enormous. He will be remembered as a great scientist, whom you knew was always correct. I am sure his memory will provide Lois with much comfort. May his memory be a blessing.
I was most impressed - as so often happens - at the very beginning, but unlike many other people Georges kept impressing again and again - long after I was a young student. Georges had a fantastic group at the Ecole Polytechnique, with Michel Martin, Henri Colin, Patrick Arpino, Anté Krstulović, and perhaps a few others who I fail to remember or whom I did not meet when Leo de Galan’s group from Delft paid a one day visit to Georges’ group in Palaiseau near Paris. That one day happened to be a Friday afternoon and a Monday morning. How can I forget? I don’t think I met Pavel Jandera at that time, but the papers that I spelled out from Guiochon, Jandera and Colin did much to form me as a scientist.
My fondest memory is a dinner we shared a few years ago (2010) in Somerset, New Jersey. Georges and his wife Lois, my wife Dana and I, Jan Blomberg, Mark Schure, Ron Majors and one of his colleagues (if my memory serves me right). It was a small enough group and a quiet enough place to have a single conversation most of the time. Georges was at his most charming. We always shared many opinions on science. We did not have a common view on politics or a common taste in music, but there is one Joe Cocker classic that Georges would have appreciated: n’oubliez jamais.
I was saddened to learn of Georges’ passing last week. Georges was a true gentleman and a most exceptional scientist. He had keen insight into all aspects of the chromatographic process, from fluid dynamics to the kinetics and equilibria of retention. He has left us a legacy of so much fine work, and a great many students and colleagues whose lives he changed. The sum of his life’s work is monumental. I have so many images of Georges in my mind; all of them are of a generous and gentle man, eager to share ideas, pose questions, and offer suggestions. Our field has lost a giant, and no one can fill his shoes.
My first contact with Georges was in the middle of the 1970s when he was visiting the laboratory of Maurits Verzele at the department of Organic Chemistry, Ghent University. I had to show him two chromatograms of urinary steroids on packed columns (I preferred the capillary GC chromatogram!). The first one was on a column packed with (porous) diatomaceous earth (Gas Chrom Q 100-120 mesh) and the second one was packed with (non-porous) glass beads of 100-120 mesh size. In both columns, the stationary phase was 1% polydimethylsiloxane. In a very elegant and brilliant way he explained the much higher efficiency of the latter column through mass transfer kinetics… and this to an organic chemist (!). Anyhow, this conversation motivated me to study the fundamental aspects of chromatography in detail, which determined my scientific career.
Forty years later, we still discussed mass transfer kinetics and fundamentals – at HPLC 2013 in Amsterdam on core shell and porous particles in LC, and at HPLC 2014 in New Orleans on the theory and practice of supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC), and the need to use the correct terminology to describe the use of carbon dioxide as mobile phase constituent. The years clearly did not affect his drive, motivation and enthusiasm. Fortunately, these latter discussions were in the relaxed environment of a high quality restaurant (Georges was Frenchman!), although Lois and my wife Martina most probably didn’t always appreciate the discussions on the A- and C-term in the late hours.
Georges was also an amazing person outside of the chromatographic environment, and having a conversation with him on any topic was a unique, instructive and entertaining experience. I will miss him a lot.
Georges Guiochon was one of the few giants of separation science. He was a visionary; he could clearly see which area of separation science was going to succeed and he focused his research on that field. Then, with a rather thorough and disciplined research strategy, he studied every possible aspect of that yet unexploited territory. Besides exploring the essential details of separation mechanisms in analytical or preparative chromatography, he always looked and went beyond the frontiers to expand the limits of current technologies.
He had the most remarkable memory. He could recall all relevant papers published in chromatography and all of the important talks given at symposia. You did not need any source of information when you had Georges around. Georges has had the most significant impact on the way I see and understand science and life in general.
The scientific community has suffered a great loss with the passing of Georges Guiochon. I first met Georges in 1964 when he was at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. At the time, both of us were interested in gas chromatography, but soon afterwards, liquid chromatography became of prime interest and the search for appropriate technology was on.
Because of his solid engineering background, Georges quickly assumed prominence in the theory of high-performance liquid chromatography and the quantitative relationships that he developed for many aspects of this separations method. He was relentless in attacking all phases of HPLC technology that needed quantitative understanding, and was a prolific writer, preparing more than a thousand publications in his career. Georges made a point to attend all the important symposia despite physical limitations, and was always generous in his interactions with fellow scientists.
I will strongly miss Georges and the interesting discussions and interactions that we had over many years. He was an icon in science and the world is much better because of his efforts.
J. J. Kirkland
With the passing away of Georges Guiochon, we sadly lost the long-term authority on the fundamentals of chromatography. Georges published – continuously over more than 40 years – the most essential contributions related to advancements of analytical and preparative liquid chromatography in theory and practice, thus becoming the highest cited chromatographer ever. Georges always fought for top quality scientific results and was strictly against soft compromises – these criteria applied not only for himself but also for others.
For obvious reasons, Georges’ lectures were extremely well attended and gave the chromatography symposia a special flavor, which we will very much miss in the future. Georges had strong opinions but at the same time he was warm hearted and very supportive to many students and post-docs who had the luck to work with him.
I had never worked with Georges on scientific projects but collaborated with him on diverse committees where it was always a pleasure to experience his quick and sharp analysis of certain situations. He continuously taught us new perspectives.
Behind a strong man is a strong women – his beloved wife Lois was exceptional in motivating Georges to live his life as actively as possible – an amazing couple we will never forget.
- B. Karger, J. Chromatog., 556, XIII-XV (1991).