The 2014 LCGC Awards (Part 1) - - Chromatography Online
The 2014 LCGC Awards (Part 1)

The Column
Volume 10, Issue 8, pp. 23-28

Xiang Zhang, a professor of chemistry at the University of Louisville (Kentucky, USA), agrees with Dong. "Regnier's contribution to separation science is not only his development of chromatography systems for protein and small molecule separations, but also the application of these technologies to solve real-life problems," Zhang said.

Ira Krull, a professor emeritus of Northeastern University, points to the specifics of many of Regnier's contributions, such as the development of new stationary phases or instrumentation for HPLC separation of biopolymers, immobilized enzyme reactors, chip-based HPLC separations, and biopharmaceutical characterization. "Regnier has made countless contributions in separations, mostly in new and novel stationary phases, and instrumentation such as the Bio-Cad systems from PerSeptive Biosystems and other small firms that Regnier started." Krull is referring to one of the five companies related to separations and analytical chemistry that Regnier co-founded: Bioseparations, PerSeptive Biosystems, BG Medicine, Quadraspec, and Perfinity Biosciences.

Andrew Alpert, the president of PolyLC, Inc., and a former graduate student of Regnier's, also feels strongly about Regnier's work on the commercial side of analytical science. "Regnier ensured that his inventions became commercial products so that scientists everywhere would have ready access to them, and sometimes he started the companies needed to implement this," said Alpert. "That example particularly inspired me."

Alpert also points to Regnier's work adapting every mode of chromatography used for life-science separations from low-pressure media to HPLC media, adding that Regnier systematically worked out the requirements for a successful or optimal material in such applications. "In some cases, there was no precedent for this," Alpert said. "This set the agenda for everyone who has followed in that field."

Academic Contributions: Regnier was not only interested in developing products, however. He also focused on the development of his students. As an educator for more than 40 years, Regnier mentored more than 80 graduate students and more than 30 postdoctoral researchers. Edward Pfannkoch, the director of technology development in North America for Gerstel Inc., and a former graduate student of Regnier's, emphasizes the importance of this aspect of Regnier's career. "It is easy to cite Regnier's many contributions such as his fundamental work on coating wide-pore silica for HPLC packings for biological separations," he said. "However, I feel one of his biggest contributions is the training, guidance, and example he set for a whole generation of students that are now working in areas related to separation science."

Deena Krestel-Rickert, the owner of Pettec, LLC, and a previous graduate student of Regnier's, agrees with Pfannkoch. She explained that Regnier is an innovative thinker, a great speaker, very well-liked and respected, and extremely willing to help people both in their career and personal lives. "I was extremely fortunate to have been his student," Krestel-Rickert said. Schlabach also noted Regnier's willingness to help his students during both their academic and professional careers. "Regnier helped me on more than one occasion secure a position with a company," he said.

Work in Regnier's laboratory was both challenging and exciting for many of his students. Alpert came up with a great analogy: "Working with Regnier was like panning for gold. His numerous ideas and concepts were like a rushing river. It was the job of his graduate students and postdocs to reach in and grab the gold nuggets as the flow carried them by — that is, to figure out which ideas were both practical and worthwhile to implement, then work out a way to do so."

Table 1: Winners of the LCGC Awards.
Zhang added that Regnier had a broad vision of science and was always excited and full of passion about his research. "Everyone who worked with Regnier knew that he was always the right person to talk with about research and the source to get encouragement."


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