Winner: Peter Myers

Peter obtained his B.Sc. in Pure Chemistry 1st Class with Honours in 1969 from the University of Salford and his Ph.D. in Maths, Physics and Chemistry in 1972 from the same University. Professor Myers’ involvement in chromatography came by mistake, as he always wanted to be a photographer, something that he still follows with a passion today. However, it is in the field of chromatography where his influence would be most felt. He started work at Unilever, before joining a small company called Phase Separations in 1979 and soon became the technical director in 1985, responsible for the development of the Sol-Gel process for the manufacture of spherical ceramics for use in chromatography.

The process now produces silica, alumina, zirconia and titania porous spheres with a wide range of controllable pore sizes, pore volumes and surface areas. Peter also developed bonded phases for these ceramics include hydrophobic, hydrophilic, chiral, strong cation and anion exchanges to the new polymer coated materials offering high pH stability. By modifying the particle size distribution and developing new methods for air classification, he developed new fast analysis columns. These types of activities often go unrewarded due to the sensitive nature of work, however the number of collaborations that Professor Myers has, is testament to the quality of the research that he performs.

One of his great legacies is the Desty Memorial Lectures for Innovation in Separation Science, which he initiated in 1996 to encourage young scientists in chromatography, after his mentor Denis Desty. There have been many notable scientists who have won this the honour of delivering the lecture, including the co-winner of the 2016 award. As well as the originator of the Desty, Professor Myers has also had other accolades, including a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry in March 1996, the Thomas-Johnston Memorial Prize, the University of Messina Separation Foundation Prize (2005) and the Chromatographic Society’s Jubilee Medal in 2006.

He is member of The Royal Institution of Great Britain, and also a member of The Pye 104 Club, and founding member of SWAG, an elite chromatography and wine drinking group.

In February 2007 he took up a sponsored chair at the University of Liverpool. Professor Myers has always had strong connections with academia, and over the past 25 years Peter has supervised over 25 PhD students though his association with the Universities of Leeds, York and Northumbria. At Liverpool, Peter leads a chromatography group comprising of one lecturer, 2 post docs and 4 PhD students. This group is recognised as one of the UK’s leading fundamental chromatography research group. He has two main aims; one to establish a strong centre of excellence for chromatography and related disciplines within the Department of Chemistry and secondly to replace the industrial habit of collecting fluid samples in bottles and delivering them to laboratories for analysis, to replace these manual procedures by automated instruments.

The proposed new self-contained analysers will allow measurement at the point of use, thereby eliminating labour, transport time and potential contamination. This new paradigm is made possible through microfabrication. The miniaturisation and integration of solid-phase extraction, electro-chromatographic separations and full-spectrum electro-optical or electro-magnetic detection will allow the encapsulation and optimisation of existing instrumental methods into micro-fluidic, application–specific chemistry chips. Each chip is essentially a laboratory integrated into its sample’s environment.

It is very evident that Professor Myers has demonstrated that even working in industry it is still possible to do world leading research, and for these reasons the Chromatographic Society are very proud to confer him the Martin Medal for 2016.