2006 Dal Nogare Award: Dancing with Chromatographers

March 13, 2006

E-Separation Solutions

Victoria L. McGuffin accepted the 2006 Dal Nogare Award on Monday morning. She was honored for contributions to the understanding of the chromatographic process.

Victoria L. McGuffin of Michigan State University accepted the 2006 Chromatography Forum of Delaware Valley Dal Nogare Award at Pittcon 2006 on Monday morning. McGuffin was honored for contributions to the fundamental understanding of the chromatographic process.

Victoria L. McGuffin

"This is really a great honor," said McGuffin. "When I look at the names of previous recipients, I am awed by the quality of the science." Recent recipients include D.W. Armstrong, M.V. Novotny, and W.S. Hancock. McGuffin took a moment to than the students who have worked under her through the years. She told the audience students were the foundation of all research and "I have been blessed to have some of the finest students."

It is clear that her students also are blessed to have such a passionate teacher. McGuffin exemplified this as she began her speech with an analogy. Her topic was on the intimate relationship between experimentation and theory, a relationship that she described as a "dance." She described an elementary school in which the dancers are awkward and separated from one another. McGuffin said, "In the beginning, theory and experiment were doing their own thing."

"Has anyone seen "Dancing with the Stars"?" asked McGuffin. She explained how ione of the dancers is always behind the other in terms of talent. McGuffin explained that this is the way that theory and experiment interact with one another on the dance floor of analytical chemistry. Sometimes, experiment is ahead of theory, and, sometimes, theory is ahead of experiment.

The question is how to get these two to stop stepping on each other's toes, and begin interacting with one another. McGuffin explained the differences between theoretical modeling and experimental measurements and came up with features of each that would help the two interact better. McGuffin continued as she discussed her research in relation to the gap between experiment and theory. She described the experimental system used by her laboratory and the theoretical computation and algorithms that have helped her find the common ground between theory and experimentation that allows them both to grow and develop.

Referring to McGuffin's analogy of theory and experimentation as dancing partners, Peter Carr of the University of Minnesota said, "That was one of the nicest things that I have ever heard at any conference."

The Dal Nogare award was established in honor of Stephen Dal Nogare who died in 1968 after serving 6 months as president of the Chromatography Forum of Delaware Valley. The recipient is chosen on the basis of his or her contributions to the understanding of the chromatographic process. The award is presented annually at Pittcon.

Mary Ellen McNally of Du Pont de Nemours and Company represented the Chromatography Forum of Delaware Valley. She organized and presided over the 2006 Dal Nogare Award Session. The session also featured speeches by Professor Chris Enke of the University of New Mexico, Peter Carr of the University of Minnesota, Milos Novotny of Indiana University, and Ron Majors of Agilent Technologies and LCGC.