LCGC Announces the 2020 Winners of the Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Leader in Chromatography Awards

November 22, 2019

The 2020 winners of the LCGC Lifetime Achievement in Chromatography Award and the Emerging Leader Award have been selected.

LCGC, the leading resource for separation scientists, is proud to announce that Daniel W. Armstrong and Szabolcs Fekete are the winners of the 13th annual LCGC Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Leader in Chromatography Awards, respectively. Armstrong and Fekete will be honored in a symposium as part of the technical program at the Pittcon 2020 conference in Chicago on March 3, 2020.



The Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement in Chromatography Award honors an outstanding professional for a lifetime of contributions to the advancement of chromatographic techniques and applications.

Armstrong, the 2020 winner, is the R.A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Arlington. He has worked on an extremely broad range of separation techniques including high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), gas chromatography (GC), supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC); micellar liquid chromatography, thin-layer chromatography; countercurrent chromatography; capillary electrophoresis (CE); and field flow fractionation, among others. He developed the theory and mechanistic background behind many of the practical advances in these techniques. Further, he advanced the use of separations techniques as a means to obtain important physico-chemical data. His most recent work in ultrafast separations and signal processing is driving fundamental changes in the field.

Among Armstrong’s greatest contributions is his work in the field of enantiomeric separations. He published a seminal paper in Science in 1986 that described in detail the mechanism of chiral recognition by cyclodextrins in aqueous and hydro-organic solvents. Also, this was the first example of small-molecule molecular modeling. This study indicated the necessity of chromatographic enantiomeric separations for purity assessment and pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies, and provided impetus that led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue new guidelines in 1992 for the development of stereoisomeric drugs. This changed the way that the pharmaceutical industry operated worldwide and these changes still reverberate today.

Armstrong’s group was the first to introduce macrocyclic glycopeptide chiral selectors in HPLC, SFC, and CE as well as cyclofructan chiral selectors in HPLC, GC, SFC, and CE. Chromatographic columns possessing these stationary phases were commercialized and adopted as the leading chiral stationary phases as they exhibited wide chiral selectivity for a broad set of chiral molecules. In 2014, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission soft-landed its Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and one of the instrument packages on the lander contained a chiral GC column (Chiraldex G-TA) invented by Armstrong. This column proved invaluable in the specific mission to separate small chiral molecules representing potential organic precursors in the search for life on the comet.

Another important contribution is Armstrong’s development of comprehensive solvation and characterization models for room-temperature ionic liquids as stationary phases in gas chromatography. In his 1999 paper in Analytical Chemistry it was shown that ionic liquids exhibit a unique “dual nature” retention selectivity towards polar and nonpolar molecules. In 2002, he published a comprehensive model that relates the solvation properties of ionic liquids to their unique structural features that comprise both the make-up of the cation and anion within the ion pair. This was quickly followed by the development of methods to design analyte-specific stationary phases that could be employed at high temperatures. These stationary phases have subsequently been commercialized and have been an important contribution to the field, particularly in multidimensional gas chromatography where ionic liquids exhibit very unique selectivity compared to most other commercially available stationary phases.

Armstrong’s impact results not only from his research, but also from the over 175 former graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and visiting scientists who have studied and trained under his guidance. Armstrong’s former students are making contributions in academia in six countries and throughout most pharmaceutical companies worldwide, as well as many petrochemical/polymer companies and federal agencies. He is the long-time Separations Associate Editor of the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.

The Emerging Leader Award

The Emerging Leader in Chromatography Award recognizes the achievements and aspirations of a talented young separation scientist who has made strides early in his or her career toward the advancement of chromatographic techniques and applications.

Fekete, the 2020 winner, earned his PhD degree in 2011 from Technical University of Budapest, Hungary, and is currently a scientific collaborator at the University of Geneva. His work focuses on six major areas: new possibilities in protein chromatography using reversed-phase liquid chromatography, ion-exchange chromatography, size-exclusion chromatography, hydrophobic interaction chromatography, and hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC); the characterization of therapeutic proteins, LC column technology; LC method development, optimization, and retention modeling; fundamental studies on retention and band broadening; and pharmaceutical analysis.

In one of his early studies, Fekete was the first to evaluate the impact of operating pressure on proteins’ retention and selectivity in reversed-phase LC. A large pressure effect was observed even in gradient mode, which was not expected. It was found that pressure can be an important parameter in method development to adjust proteins’ retention. Fekete has also published valuable work on the retention modeling of large proteins (monoclonal antibodies) using computer simulation, suggesting a generic method development approach and platform methods that are very important for pharmaceutical industrial laboratories. He has also carried out fundamental studies in which the effect of longitudinal temperature gradient on retention, caused by frictional heating, was experimentally dissociated from the combined effect of pressure and frictional heating. Through this work, the specific contributions of these effects to the overall retention were determined for both small and large solutes.

Fekete has contributed to more than 130 journal articles, with more than 4000 citations. He has also given more than 60 oral and 30 poster presentations at scientific conferences, and has edited three books and contributed to various book chapters. He has won five “best poster” awards at international conferences. He also received the György Oláh award from the University of Technology of Budapest in 2011.

Visit the LCGC website or information about past LCGC award winners or for information on how to nominate a candidate for a future award.

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