If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Analytical Chemistry

ACS Award In Chromatography

by Britt E. Erickson
February 17, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 7

Credit: Ohio State
Susan Olesik
Credit: Ohio State

Sponsored by Sigma-Aldrich/Supelco

Her work is innovative and high impact, say chromatography experts who know Susan Olesik, the Dow Professor of chemistry at Ohio State University. She is best known for pioneering the field of enhanced-fluidity liquid chromatography, a technique that is now commonly used by the pharmaceutical industry for chiral separations.

Olesik also developed low-temperature glassy carbon materials that led to a column used by NASA to analyze the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. More recently, she has investigated polymer synthesis in enhanced-fluidity liquids and high-efficiency separation science using nanoparticle and nanofiber arrays and devices. Olesik, 58, is the first woman to receive this award. She is being honored for contributing throughout the field of chromatography.

Not only is Olesik among the top separation scientists, she has also developed novel educational programs to aid in creating the next generation of scientists, says Isiah M. Warner, a chemistry professor at Louisiana State University. “This makes her an incomparable force within the separation science community.”

Olesik has been a faculty member at Ohio State since 1986. Before that she was a postdoc in the labs of Tomas Baer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and of Milos Novotny at Indiana University, Bloomington. She holds a Ph.D. in analytical mass spectrometry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Olesik is highly regarded for her research in enhanced-fluidity liquids and her fundamental investigations of fluid phenomena, Warner says. Her group conceptualized and developed enhanced-fluidity chromatography, a method that involves adding gaseous solvents, such as carbon dioxide, in proportions as high as 50–60%, to polar solvents. The method offers increased speed of analysis compared with high-performance liquid ­chromatography.

Find news of new hires, promotions, retirements, and other job changes at

“Our group was the first to document the phase behavior and fast mass transport properties as well as the unique solvent structures possible in enhanced-fluidity liquid solvents,” Olesik notes. “Chemical engineers now describe these liquids as gas-expanded liquids, and those in the pharmaceutical industry who started using supercritical fluid chromatography often describe this as subcritical chromatography,” she adds.

“I have been particularly fond of her studies on enhanced-fluidity LC,” says Novotny, her former mentor. She scientifically explained the approach on a sound physico-chemical basis, he says. “This approach permits unusual selectivities,” he notes, adding that characterization of polymers is one important application.

Olesik continues to develop innovative approaches to separation science, says Luis A. Colón, a chemistry professor at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. “Her group is currently developing new chromatographic stationary phases based on nanofiber technology,” he says. The approach “has been shown to provide efficiencies far superior to established methods,” he notes, leading to faster separations and sharper, better-resolved peaks.

In her free time, Olesik is an avid bicyclist. She is also director of a science outreach program entitled Wonders of Our World, or W.O.W. The program, now in its 14th year, aims to help K–5 teachers with classroom instruction on science.

Olesik will present her award address before the Division of Analytical Chemistry during the fall ACS national meeting in San Francisco.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.