260 (columns) and Counting

May 1, 2007
John W. Dolan
John W. Dolan

John Dolan has been writing "LC Troubleshooting" for LCGC for over 25 years. One of the industry's most respected professionals, John is currently a principal instructor for LC Resources, Walnut Creek, California He is also a member of LCGC's editorial advisory board.

Special Issues

Special Issues, Special Issues-05-01-2007, Volume 0, Issue 0
Pages: 24–28

I have to cede my seniority as an LCGC columnist to Ron Majors - he started several months before I did.

I have to cede my seniority as an LCGC columnist to Ron Majors – he started several months before I did. I remember a lunch meeting with Tom Hager who was then editor, and Lloyd Snyder, who has been on the editorial advisory board since the beginning, in San Francisco, sometime in the summer of 1983. Dennis Runser had started writing the "Troubleshooting" column with the first issue, but resigned after three installments. At the time, "Troubleshooting" was all that was necessary in a title, because the magazine was titled LC Magazine, so nothing was necessary to distinguish it from any other separation technique. Anyway, after some arm-twisting from Tom and Lloyd, I told them I'd have a shot at the column, but only if they could locate someone else to share the burden. Vern Berry agreed to share the duties with me, and we wrote our first column in October, 1983. Tom Hager had left the magazine at that point and Kari Hallenburg had taken over as editor. Kari holds the record for the longest reigning editor at LCGC – 11 years, I think. Later, she joined our company, LC Resources, as our marketing communications manager, which she still does on a part time basis. Vern and I wrote 10 columns together, and during that time realized that our writing styles were not very compatible, so Vern moved into the position of writing scientific and technical meeting reports for LCGC, and I continued as the "Troubleshooting" editor up to the present time.

John W. Dolan

I'm often asked how I can come up with a column every month, year in and year out – just over 260 at this point. It was 11 per year until the August Buyer's Guide was replaced with a normal edition in 2005 and we went to 12 issues per year. My advice to new column editors has always been not to write everything you know in the first couple of columns – save some of it for the future. But the real reason that I've rarely had problems deciding on what to write is that you, as readers, supply me with new ideas almost daily. Sometimes you join me as an author, other times you submit an installment, but most of the time your problems or questions are combined with those of others to form the substance of the month's theme. We had a running joke in the laboratory I managed for many years – if you really messed up, you'd get your name as a co-author on one of the "LC Troubleshooting" columns. Certainly, problems in the laboratory, plus my consulting and teaching activities provide many additional troubleshooting topics. If you look through the archives, some problems, such as bubbles, check valves, tailing peaks, and baseline artifacts come up regularly. Other topics appear only occasionally. Keep those cards and letters coming!

I think that I hold the unique position of being the only columnist to ever have visited the original LC Magazine offices in Springfield, Oregon or the later Oregon headquarters in Eugene. I believe that Steve Brown, the current technical editor, is the only remaining employee from the Oregon office, which was closed when Advanstar moved all its operations east. I was living in San Jose, California when I started with LCGC, but having grown up in Oregon, occasionally drove through the Springfield–Eugene area on my way to visit my family. So I stopped in Springfield on one such trip, probably during the summer of 1984. Ed Aster, who then owned the magazine, is a very large man, and then had a hobby of raising registered Angus cattle. (In fact, he started another magazine, Westen Angus to serve that market.) As I went into his office and sat across a giant desk and gazed at photos of his prize Angus on the walls, I felt that I had stepped back into Bonanza days and Hoss Cartwright was across the desk from me! A few years later, the magazine moved to much nicer quarters on The Mall in downtown Eugene, across the river. I visited there several times over the years.

John Dolan's First LC Troubleshooting (Vol. 1, Num 7, 1983)

When we started writing for LCGC, none of the editors were compensated for their work. After seeing the success of LC Magazine, a competing magazine, Chromatography Forum, was started, and the rumor came out that their editors were paid. So, LCGC decided to compensate us for our efforts, too, and it was a welcome change. Eventually, Chromatography Forum began to fall on hard times and was purchased by LCGC and discretely "taken out behind the barn" and put out of its misery. A few years later, the name Chromatography Forum, resurfaced as a popular on-line forum (www.chromforum.com) jointly sponsored by LCGC and LC Resources.

And, finally, a disclaimer. Although I am often credited with starting and/or owning LCGC, I have never had any financial interest in the magazine other than as a columnist. LC Resources, a company that I am a part owner of, is completely independent from the magazine. However, I think the confusion in the names benefits both parties, so neither is very vehement about correcting misconceptions.

I'm not planning my retirement as "LC Troubleshooting" editor any time soon, but I doubt that I'll be writing my thoughts on the 50th anniversary of the magazine. However, LCGC supplies such a service to the chromatography community that I'm sure that there will be a 50th anniversary issue. Congratulations, LCGC, on your first 25 years!

John W. Dolan "LC Troubleshooting" Editor John W. Dolan is Vice-President of LC Resources, Walnut Creek, California; and a member of LCGC's editorial advisory board. Direct correspondence about this column to "LC Troubleshooting," LCGC, Woodbridge Corporate Plaza, 485 Route 1 South, Building F, First Floor, Iselin, NJ 08830, e-mail John.Dolan@LCResources.com

For an ongoing discussion of LC trouble-shooting with John Dolan and other chromatographers, visit the Chromatography Forum discussion group at http://www.chromforum.com.