Education and Career
After graduating from high school in 1964, I did my undergraduate studies in chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, graduating in 1971 with a major in synthetic organic chemistry and chemical engineering. I began my graduate studies in synthetic organic chemistry in 1972 and received my Ph.D. in 1977.
From 1977 to February 1998 I was a NATO Science Fellow at the State University of Ghent, Belgium. From March 1978 to August 1979 I joined the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam with Prof. Hans Poppe and became deeply involved in analytical chemistry, especially HPLC.
I joined Hewlett-Packard's Waldbronn Analytical Division in Germany on September 1, 1979, as an R&D chemist. My first project involved the synthesis of HP-proprietary stationary phases for HPLC. However, I soon became involved in the development of what became the famous HP1090 HPLC system and, in particular, the packing of 100 x 2.1 mm i.d. HPLC columns and the testing of the complete system for performance, reliability, ease of use, and new applications of what became known as "Low Dispersion Liquid Chromatography". The HP1090 was launched in 1983. That same year, I became the R&D Section Manager.
The responsibility of my group has been on HPLC column development, system performance tests, and application solutions. For example, my group exploited the capabilities of the HP1090 to perform online sample derivatization, which led to the AminoQuant system for the analysis of proteinaceous and physiological amino acids.
HPLC system evaluation has remained a permanent focal point of my responsibilities e.g. during the development of the HP1050 and HP1100 series of HPLC modules and systems. My group was also involved in developing the HP1046 fluorescence and HP1049 electrochemical detector for HPLC.
In 1986-1987, I was heavily involved in the Hewlett-Packard and Genentech joint venture called HP Genenchem, which had been formed in 1983. I was the R&D section manager responsible for instrument and column development and spent several months at Genentech in California. Eventually, this effort resulted in a line of OEM bio-molecular HPLC column products and a titanium version of the 1050 series HPLC modules. The HP Genenchem joint venture was dissolved in 1987.
When I returned to Germany, Hewlett-Packard had moved away from the idea of developing HPLC stationary phases from scratch and was focusing on OEM phases from other suppliers such as Shandon (now Hypersil), E. Merck, and Asahi. I was responsible for developing the packing processes and transferring them to manufacturing. Eventually, 0.3 mm and 0.5 mm capillary columns were introduced. I was also involved in the Rockland Technologies Inc. (Zorbax product line) acquisition by Hewlett-Packard in 1998. Also, I have been responsible for developing an automated system for analyzing polar pollutants in surface waters such as the Rhine (SAMOS).
In the early nineties, the development of a capillary electrophoresis system (which became the HP1600 series) was a high-priority project at Hewlett-Packard. My group was involved in the development of coated fused silica capillaries and system testing. A particular highlight was proving the practical feasibility of capillary electrochromatography (CEC), which added a fascinating mode of operation to the HPCE1600 system, allowing HPLC separations with efficiencies that were unheard of at the time. Unfortunately (from my point of view), by the end of the 1990s, the business focus shifted from capillary electrophoresis to microchip capillary electrophoresis (which became the Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer).
This change in focus coincided with the sale of HP's measurement business, which became Agilent Technologies on November 1, 1999. My personal focus has shifted to a more external role, representing the Hewlett-Packard HPLC and CE business to universities, contributing to scientific conferences, and publishing papers.
November 1, 2000, these activities became my primary focus. I was responsible for managing Agilent Technologies Waldbronn's university relations and external scientific collaborations. My primary goals were to establish collaborations with academics and customers in the fields of liquid phase separation science and engineering, to evaluate and acquire new analytical instrumentation technology, and to contribute to separation science. Outside Agilent, I have chaired the MSB2006 and MSB2012 symposia, served on several symposium organizing committees, and most recently chaired the jury for the best poster competitions at the HPLC, ISC, and MSB symposia series.
In September 2006, I became the first Agilent Technologies Research Fellow in Agilent's life science and chemical analysis business groups. I set up the first two Agilent Technical Conferences in 2007 and 2010 (last in the program manager position).
I retired from Agilent Technologies on August 31, 2012. Since September 1, I have worked as an independent consultant focusing on liquid phase separations for chemical analysis, such as HPLC, UHPLC, and capillary electrophoresis. My focus is on theoretical and fundamental aspects of the technique. Also, in practical issues such as the coupling of CE with MS., I would like to share my experience, competence, and broad network in this field with others as appropriate.
I have been doing tutorials on UHPLC on Optimizing your LC for coupling with MS, Multidimensional HPLC, and CE-MS. Registered users will find the tutorials on this website via the menu Publications (registration required!). I have been an active co-organizer of HPLC 2013 in Amsterdam, of ISC 2014 in Salzburg, HPLC 2015 in Geneva, ISC2016 in Cork, ISC2018 in Cannes, HPLC2017 Prague, HPLC2019 in Milano, ITP2019 in Toulouse and most recently HPLC 2022 and HPLC 2023. My contributions to these symposiums were/are e-promotion of the events and the organization of poster evaluation for the best poster award at these conferences.
I have drafted a primer on Capillary Iso-electric Focusing on behalf of Agilent Technologies and a guidebookguidebook on CE-MS for Agilent Technologies. I recently contributed a chapter for a new monograph on CE-MS (ed. G.J. de Jong) published by Wiley VCH. I recently co-authored Developments in Interfacing Designs for CE–MS in Chromatographia. With my former colleague at Agilent Technologies, I was a co-author on the Relation between chromatographic resolution and signal-to-noise ratio in spectrophotometric HPLC detection in Analytical Chemistry and on G-index: A new metric to describe dynamic refractive index effects in HPLC absorbance detection in Talanta.
I received public recognition illustrated by being awarded the Uwe Neue Award in Separation Science issued at the HPLC2014 symposium. I was one of the top 100 most well-known analytical scientists in 2013 and 2015, published by the Analytical Scientist.
Since 2015, I have been involved with Advanced Electrophoresis Solutions Ltd. (AES) of Cambridge in Canada as a member of their scientific advisory board. AES plans to introduce Whole Column Imaged Detection Instruments for Iso-electric Focusing Electrophoresis, CEInfinite. Check their website at http://www.aeslifesciences.com/index.html.
From 2016 - 2021, I have been a member of the strategic advisory board of PharmaFluidics. This Belgian startup company aimed to commercialize the "pillar array" column technology developed initially in the Desmet group at the Free University of Brussels. I published an extensive tutorial review about the technology. The acquisition of Pharmafluidics by Thermo Scientific terminated my involvement.