Sitting with scientists

Ramkumar DhandapaniAll great love stories must start at the very beginning. And Ramkumar Dhandapani’s 15-year relationship with gas chromatography goes way back to his high school years in India.

Ramkumar always knew that he wanted to go into chemistry from the moment he was introduced to the science. While in high school, his class conducted a titration experiment, where the colors seemed to change on their own.

He remembers that day fondly, saying, “It was like magic was happening—I wanted to dig deeper into why it was happening.”

That desire to know what was behind the curtain lead Ramkumar to pursue a career in chemistry.

He started his career at Bharathidasan University, in Tamil Nadu, India, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Master of Science in Chemistry, and MPhil. in Chemistry.

Ramkumar then worked as a Senior Executive Analytical R&D for Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, where he handled highly potent active pharmaceutical ingredients and developed analytical methods for evaluation of assays, related compounds, and residual solvents using HPLC, GC, and GC-MS. Then, as he was conducting his research work, he was an Officer (Gas Chromatography Group Leader, Analytical R&D) for Apotex Pharmachem India Pvt. Ltd.

In 2003, Ramkumar decided it was time for a change of scenery—preferably a cold and snowy one. After a Google search of “America-Snow”, he stumbled upon something he didn’t know he was looking for. He had found his inspiration, his mentor, his teacher—Dr. Nicholas Snow.

Nicholas Snow, Ph.D. is the Founding Endowed Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Seton Hall University, New Jersey. Without hesitation, Ramkumar hopped on a plane and made a home in New Jersey for 4 years, receiving another Masters in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry under the guidance of Dr. Snow.

Ramkumar’s Master and Ph.D. work with Prof. Snow gave him a taste of everything, starting with microextractions. In any good romantic comedy, there is always a “meet cute”—the moment a future couple meets for the first time. This was Ramkumar’s meet cute with gas chromatography (GC).

He was leading a small project analyzing ionic liquid based microextraction in river water and became immediately fascinated with the process of using gas chromatography in one and two dimensions. The love affair didn’t end there. Ramkumar went on to work on several projects and collaborations in a variety of industries. He ran the GC team on a pharmaceutical project, became fearful of what he was actually eating while analyzing in the food industry, but in the end, fell for environmental analysis.

“Working in the environmental, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industry provides a direct impact to a community, helping provide people with things like clean drinking water, safe food and reliable medicines. I would want to revisit these industries by revamping old methods with the innovative technology that is available today.”

After graduating and working under Prof. Snow, Ramkumar found himself wanting to change his scenery again, but he didn’t need Google to know where he wanted to go. Since working in labs during his undergraduate work at Bharathidasan University, he knew and used Phenomenex columns. Phenomenex has been a part of Ramkumar’s relationship with GC from the beginning, all the way to Seton Hall working on his Ph.D.

Today, Ramkumar is the Global Product Manager-Gas Chromatography here at Phenomenex, helping and aiding others just like him who have a passion for gas chromatography through product development, Phenomenex Live Chat, conferences, and webinar presentations.

“I don’t always get to meet the people I help, but it is an amazing feeling getting to know that I helped solve their problems and hopefully made their lives easier.”

Ramkumar is excited for the future of GC as well as the opportunity to get back into the lab working with R&D developing new GC Columns.

“Having a strong lab background has helped me connect and understand what the customers need and are asking for—I’ve literally been in their position.”


We decided to take advantage of having the GC Love Doctor, Ramkumar Dhandapani, talking with us, so we asked him a few frequently asked questions in gas chromatography:

  1. What is the most common question you receive through Live Chat regarding method development? How do you answer it?

The most common question that I get is how to choose the right GC column for my application. The answer is very simple. Zebron™ GC columns have a clean classification under which individual columns fall. Zebron GC column selection is quite simple and columns are classified under 4 categories:

  • Essentials
  • Unlimited
  • Inferno
  • Plus

To make column selection even easier, Phenomenex provides a GC Column Selection Webtool

  1. In a brief explanation, what is the best process to adhere by when selecting a GC for a method?

There are 3 layers in a wall coated open tubular column, outer polyimide, middle – fused silica and inner layer of stationary phase. Each of these layers are equally important for a successful GC separation. Always go for columns that are individually QC tested and select high efficient column dimensions to get highly efficient and shorter run time. When dealing with active analytes, consider the premium version of Zebron Products: the Zebron Plus line.

  1. What effects do water and oxygen in carrier gas have on GC column lifetime?

Water and oxygen have adverse effects on inlet liners, GC columns, and detectors. Especially if the carrier gas is contaminated with moisture, it will result in a wiggly base line. If it has oxygen, it would degrade the GC stationary phase and kill sensitive detectors. It is necessary to use gas filters to carrier gases and detector gases to prevent this damage and to extend column life time. Also, don’t forget to replace your gas filters periodically!

  1. How can a customer reduce peak fronting in GC?

Fronting, or shark fin peaks, are common when the analyte is overloaded on to the column. Lowering injection volume, reducing sample concentration or increasing the split ratio would help get symmetric peaks.

  1. How do you see the future of gas chromatography evolving?

The future of GC is great! From the beginning, the Zebron team has been working hard on new innovations. With strict regulations in the food, pharmaceutical, and environmental industry, new and unique selectivities are required to resolve critical separation. The Zebron GC team is continuously working on highly efficient unique selectivities to make sure we meet and exceed regulatory requirements. Rather than what we want to make, we focus on what our customers need.

Want to potentially ask Ramkumar Dhandapani a GC questions? Or maybe you have another technical question!

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Summary
Sitting with Scientists: The GC Love Doctor-Ramkumar Dhandapani, Ph.D.
Article Name
Sitting with Scientists: The GC Love Doctor-Ramkumar Dhandapani, Ph.D.
Description
We sat down with the GC love doctor, Ramkumar Dhandapani, Ph.D., whose love for gas chromatography spans over decades and only gets stronger with time.

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