The LCGC Blog: Celebrating Women in Separation Chemistry at Pittcon 2024

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2024 was a special year for Pittcon. The conference, which was celebrating its 75th anniversary, was held for the first time on the West Coast, specifically in San Diego, CA. It was exciting to travel to San Diego, meet new and old friends, and chat about science and life in the warmth of the California sun. Something even more special is that the conference this year celebrated three women in separation chemistry, all of whom I want to highlight and celebrate again in this blog post. As some colleagues made me notice, Monday, February 26th, 2024, was “Susans Day.” In fact, two world-class scientists and trailblazer women in separation chemistry were honored with prestigious awards. The morning session was organized by the Chromatography Forum of Delaware Valley to celebrate Susan Olesik of The Ohio State University, who received the Dal Nogare award, while the afternoon session celebrated Susan Lunte of the University of Kansas, who was awarded the Ralph N. Adams Award in Bioanalytical Chemistry. Both awardees have impressive careers that push the boundaries of separation chemistry while training and inspiring future generations of separation scientists. Below is a summary of their achievements.

Olesik, a Distinguished University Professor at The Ohio State University, has been a trailblazer in the field of separation chemistry since she first established her research group in 1986. Her most notable contribution came in 1991, when she introduced and developed Enhanced-Fluidity Liquid Chromatography, a technique that revolutionized the speed and efficiency of separating mixtures of polar analytes. The Olesik group continues to make significant contributions to the field, particularly through their work on nano-fiber-based and ordered carbon materials, which aim to enhance chromatographic separation efficiency. Olesik’s contributions have been widely recognized by the scientific community, earning her numerous prestigious awards, including the 2014 ACS Award in Chromatography, 2012 AAAS Fellow, 2009 ACS Fellow, 2006 OSU Alumni Association Heinlen Award, 2005 Columbus Technical Council (CTC) Technical Person of the Year, 2000 AWISCO Woman in Science Award, and a commendation from NASA for her contribution to the Cassini-Huygens probe. In addition to her research, Olesik is a passionate advocate for promoting chemistry through public outreach. She serves as the Director of the Ohio House of Science and Engineering (OHSE), a K–16 science outreach center, and her efforts in this area have been recognized with the 2014 ACS Helen M Free Award for Public Outreach, 2008 ACS National Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, and the 2008 Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences.

2024 Dal Nogare Award Ceremony celebrating Susan Olesik. From left to right: Justin Godinho, Jim Grinias, Jared Anderson, Susan Olesik, Lisa Holland, Robert Kennedy.

2024 Dal Nogare Award Ceremony celebrating Susan Olesik. From left to right: Justin Godinho, Jim Grinias, Jared Anderson, Susan Olesik, Lisa Holland, Robert Kennedy.

Susan Lunte is the Ralph N. Adams Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Director of the Adams Institute for Bioanalytical Chemistry, and Director of the NIH COBRE Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways at the University of Kansas. Lunte's research group develops new methodologies for the separation and detection of peptides, amino acids, neurotransmitters, and pharmaceuticals in biological fluids. This includes separation-based sensors for the continuous monitoring of drugs and neurotransmitters in freely roaming animals, known as the famous "lab-on-a-sheep" technology. She has also developed ultra-small cellular assays on chips that can accommodate nanoscale volumes and high-speed analysis. To demonstrate this technology, Lunte has studied reactive oxygen species and their reaction products in macrophages and microglia, as well as the transport of peptides across the blood brain barrier using bovine brain microvessel endothelial cells. Lunte is an RSC, AAPS, ACS, AAAS, and AIMBE Fellow. In 2019, she was a visiting Faculty Fellow at Paris Tech in France and the University of Tasmania in Australia. She was the recipient of the 1997 Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award, the 2004 AAPS Research Achievement Award in Analysis and Pharmaceutical Quality, the 2018 ANACHEM Award, the 2021 ACS-ANL Roland F. Hirsch Distinguished Service Award, and the 2023 ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry.

2024 Ralph N. Adams Award Ceremony celebrating Susan Lunte. From left to right: Robert Kennedy, Nancy Albritton, Susan Lunte, Sabeth Verpoorte, Julie Stenken, Andrew Ewing

2024 Ralph N. Adams Award Ceremony celebrating Susan Lunte. From left to right: Robert Kennedy, Nancy Albritton, Susan Lunte, Sabeth Verpoorte, Julie Stenken, Andrew Ewing

Pittcon 2024 also hosted a special session organized by the LCGC International team to celebrate an emerging female leader in the field of chromatography: Marina Catani from the University of Ferrara, in Ferrara, Italy, who was honored with the 2024 LCGC Emerging Leader in Chromatography Award. Catani is, to date, the first scientist working in Italy to receive this recognition. Her work focuses on the separation of enantiomers by high-performance liquid chromatography/ultrahigh-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC/UHPLC), the study of the kinetic and thermodynamic properties of chiral stationary phases, and the separation and purification using LC analysis (single-column and continuous multi-column) of biomolecules of high therapeutic interest. More recently, her group has strived to reduce the environmental impact of chromatographic technologies. Her work and contributions in the field of chromatography were recognized by the 2018 Csaba Horvath Award, which is presented at the HPLC annually to a separation scientist under the age of 35, and the 2021 Young Researcher Award, conferred by the Analytical Chemistry Division of the Italian Chemical Society.

2024 Lifetime Achievement in Chromatography and Emerging Leader in Chromatography Awards ceremony. From left to right: Kevin Schug, Michael Lämmerhofer , Martina Catani, Wolfgang Lindner, Attila Felinger

2024 Lifetime Achievement in Chromatography and Emerging Leader in Chromatography Awards ceremony. From left to right: Kevin Schug, Michael Lämmerhofer , Martina Catani, Wolfgang Lindner, Attila Felinger

Thank you, Susan, Sue, and Martina, for your contribution to separation chemistry and chromatography, and ad maiora!

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