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Prof André De Villiers
September 12, 2019 @ 17:3020:00Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
New dimensions in chromatographic separations
In the field of analytical chemistry, which deals with the quantitative and qualitative determination of chemical composition, separation science plays a central role in allowing the study of complex chemical mixtures. This is important, as the chemical composition of matter determines its properties. Chromatographic separation in particular is an indispensable tool in all chemical research and industry for this reason. Despite the proven utility of modern chromatography, however, the growing demand for accurate analytical data for highly complex samples requires the development of more powerful techniques.
It is in this context that the research activities of my group have focused on improving the performance of chromatographic separations, primarily by using multidimensional chromatography in combination with mass spectrometric detection. This entails two principal research thrusts. Firstly, chromatographic theory is used to explore the limits of current and developing technologies, in both one- and multi-dimensional chromatography, as basis for improving separation performance.
Secondly, fundamental findings are used as the point of departure for the development of improved methods for the analysis of complex samples. Much of our application research focuses on natural products of interest in the South African context, including wine and indigenous plants and herbal teas, where the developed technology is used to shed new light on the chemical composition of these samples. In this work, advanced mass spectrometry, and recently ion mobility spectrometry, play a central role.
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André Joubert de Villiers was born in Vredenburg, South Africa, in 1976. He completed his schooling in Hartbeespoort, where he matriculated in 1994 as dux student, and enrolled as BSc student at Stellenbosch University the following year. He completed his BSc degree in 1997, receiving the Merck Prize for the best final-year Chemistry student, and BSc (Hons) degree cum laude in 1998, and was awarded the South African Chemical Institute James Moir medal. He completed his MSc (cum laude) in 2000 and his PhD in 2004, both under the supervision of Prof. Pat Sandra. This was followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Pfizer Analytical Research Centre at Ghent University, Belgium (2004–2006). He was appointed as academic staff member at Stellenbosch University in August 2006.
André’s research entails both fundamental studies and practical applications of advanced separation techniques such as multidimensional liquid and gas chromatography combined with mass spectrometry. André has published 79 papers and a book chapter, which have been cited more than 2 500 times. He has received several international and local awards, including the Csaba Horváth Memorial Award in 2009, the South African Chromatographic Society’s Chromatographer of the Year award in 2012, LCGC’s Emerging Leader in Chromatography Award (2014) and the South African Chemical Institute’s Raikes Medal in 2015. He regularly presents invited lectures at international conferences, and has served on the organising committees of local and international conferences. André currently chairs the Western Cape board of the South African Chromatographic Society and is an editorial board member of the Journal of Chromatography A, Chromatographia and LCGC.