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CASSS Biography Project
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CASSS Awardees Document Their Careers to Preserve History

The list of winners of the prestigious CASSS Award for Outstanding Achievements in Separation Science reads like a who’s who of the field. But beyond the award, the details of the winners’ contributions to separation science are being lost to time.

No information about the early recipients can be unearthed, and only a short career summary for the seven newest winners has been available on the CASSS website. As time passes, the lives and stories of these winners would likely have been forgotten; and no one would know how they grew up, what they studied, what their motivation was, and what they did and why.

CASSS will now be preserving that history with its new Biography Project. Thanks to the initiative of Lloyd Snyder, one of the early award winners, CASSS is in the process of providing more complete autobiographies of as many past winners as possible and plans to continue those efforts to include future awardees.

Several of these autobiographies are now available on the CASSS website.

Ever since its beginning, CASSS has always been involved in the field of chemical separations. This interest is demonstrated with a number of conferences focusing on chromatography in a variety of its incarnations such as LC, GC, CE, and CEC and their applications in areas such as omics, environment, food safety, pharmaceuticals, and biologics.

To further support the field, CASSS introduced in 1995 the CASSS Award for Outstanding Achievements in Separation Science. The award winner is selected every year by nominations and a vote of CASSS Associate Directors.

The following 22 scientists have received this award during the past 20 years. Underlined names have biographies available:

Following is an account of how this new feature on the CASSS website came to be. The account is in the form of a question-and-answer session between Bob Stevenson (former member of the CASSS Board of Directors), Lloyd Snyder (an early awardee), and Frank Svec (President of CASSS).

Bob:  So how did this project get started?

Frank: We were aware that our previous efforts to provide backgrounds of the award winners were non-existent or rather minimal. And we suspected that their full stories might be both interesting and useful in various ways.

Bob: Can you expand on that a bit?

Frank: Stories about successful careers are usually interesting, especially to those working in the same area. Such accounts can also serve as guides or lessons for other practitioners, when they describe how successes were achieved, or how failures were overcome.

Bob: So what happened next?

Lloyd:  A few years back, when my research career was approaching its end, I began to reflect on my own past work in chromatography. There were a number of intriguing episodes — some somewhat humorous — and I began to write them down. Eventually a story of my entire career began to emerge, which I shared with several of my colleagues. Some interest was expressed, and at this point I began to think about encouraging other workers to prepare similar histories.

Bob: And then?

Lloyd: I first thought of CASSS in this connection, and then of Frank, because I knew he was involved with CASSS, and I was in regular contact with him. So I gave him a call, and he agreed to look at my biography.

Frank: Lloyd sent me his initial biography, and I found it quite interesting. So I discussed how we might use this with other CASSS board members. Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea of soliciting similar biographies from other CASSS awardees, but at the same time we felt that the 100+ pages of Lloyd’s initial story was way too long. So I got back to Lloyd with this message. I also asked Lloyd if he would be willing to take on the job of soliciting and editing biographies submitted by other CASSS winners.

Bob: Lloyd, how did you respond to this?

Lloyd: I agreed to shorten my manuscript, and I was eventually able to reduce its length by about half. I then returned the revised biography to Frank, and at the same time agreed to serve as editor for the project.

Frank: After beginning to look at Lloyd’s new biography, it occurred to me that Bob Stevenson would be an ideal co-editor for the project, and Lloyd quickly agreed. I later presented this offer to Bob, which he accepted.

Bob: So we quickly began contacting the various CASSS awardees, describing what we were trying to do, and asking if they were interested in submitting their own biographies. The initial response was quite positive: 13 positive replies, several maybes, and only 5 refusals.

Bob: Will this project focus only on CASSS award winners?

Frank: Although our primary targets are the winners, we do not want to restrict these efforts only on them. There so many excellent separation scientists among us who may not be the award winners simply because of the competition that is really fierce. However, they also do excellent research and knowing more about their life might be just as interesting. This is why we plan to post bios of other scientists as well. And obviously, we will add a new winner each year to come.



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