A Man in the Know, Keeping Readers in the Know

November 1, 2015
Laura Bush
Special Issues

Volume 33, Issue 11

Page Number: 8

Throughout his career, Ron Majors always had his finger on the pulse of the latest chromatography developments, and he kept readers in the know too.

 

 

It finally happened, much to my dismay. Ron Majors decided to retire from writing his monthly columns in LCGC. It’s hard to say farewell to a contributor who has been a member of the LCGC family for so long: Ron has been writing “Column Watch” since the second issue of the magazine in 1983, and “Sample Prep Perspectives” since 1991.

But his longevity is not the primary reason it is hard to see him go; it’s that he has provided so much to our readers. First, he has always had his finger on the pulse of advances in chromatography. Second, he has always understood that what readers needed to know about those advances were the practical developments that could be used to solve real-world problems. Third, he was always able to inform readers about new commercial developments in an objective fashion, even though he worked for an instrument and columns manufacturer. He resisted any urge to promote his company’s products, and he made sure that important technologies from other companies were highlighted too-while ensuring that guest authors understood that they, too, had to write without hyperbole.

We decided that the best way to say “farewell” to Ron Majors would be to bring you this special supplement that contains a small selection of his best work, plus one new article (“The First 50 Years of HPLC-A Parallel Journey”). On the first page of each article, Ron explains the significance of that article when it was first published, and why it is still relevant today.

What you will see as you read these articles is that not only has Ron always closely followed major developments in chromatography, but that throughout his career, he was in the midst of it all. He attended the “Advances in Chromatography Symposia” in January 1969 when for the first time, the meeting broadened out beyond gas chromatography as some GC experts of the day-now seen as the fathers of HPLC-gave talks about their explorations of the new technique of liquid chromatography, and held heated arguments on the floor. He then went back to his industrial company and built an HPLC system, and his talk at the following year’s conference was one of the first to present a method for solving an actual industrial problem using LC. In 1972, Ron developed a slurry-packing method that continues to be the standard approach for packing commercial analytical columns today. He attended the very first HPLC meeting in 1973, and later hosted the largest-ever HPLC meeting (that’s the largest of all time, through today) in San Francisco, in 1986. And so on.

Reading these articles, you will feel the excitement that Ron felt when LC was being born. You’ll also come to know the fear of working with high pressures during the early development of ultrahigh-pressure LC (UHPLC); how the development of chemically bonded phases led to the explosion of reversed-phase LC in the 1970s; and how “solvent programming” became “gradient elution.” In short, he tells you how HPLC got to where it is today. Similarly, he traces the path of  sample preparation. In that case, what is notable is not the wonder of how we got from there to here, but rather just how little sample prep has changed. His first “Sample Prep Perspectives” article from 1991 still serves today as an excellent overview of the most important approaches to sample prep-then and now.

If Ron Majors were a painter, we would honor him with a retrospective exhibit. In essence, that is what we have done here. And as with any great artist, when you look back at the early work, it is just as compelling today, or even more so, than when it was first shown.

So we take our hats off to Ron, and present this farewell and retrospective. We will all miss seeing his work in the pages of LCGC next year, following his final column in the December issue, when he looks toward the future. Most of all, we will long remember him for keeping practicing chromatographers around the world in the know about what matters most in the world of chromatography.

Laura Bush is the editorial director of LCGC. She may be reached at lbush@advanstar.com