The Analytical Scientist, Issue # 0416-04 (2016)

Ebb… Then Flow

The co-inventor of flow injection analysis is awarded the newly reinaugurated Talanta Medal

Elo Hansen has published hundreds of papers, delivered lectures across the globe and is now the proud winner of the Elsevier Talanta Medal (1) – not bad for an analytical chemist who thought he had “disappeared into academic oblivion”. 

At a private award ceremony during Pittcon 2016, Hansen (pictured left), from the Technical University of Denmark, very humbly discussed his significant contribution to analytical science. “My former colleague Jaromír Růžička and I actually invented flow injection analysis (FIA),” he said. “The ultimate test for an analytical approach is not that it can do better what can be done by other means, but that it allows us to do something that we cannot do in any other way.” FIA has been used all over the world for many years and appears in more than 24,000 papers, said Hansen – testimony indeed.

The medal was presented by Talanta’s co-editor-in-chief Gary Christian (pictured right), who was the last recipient of the award back in 1995. “I was fortunate enough to be the last winner before the hiatus, and now we’re ready to start again,” said Christian. “We are very pleased that Elsevier has decided to reinstitute the medal, and very proud to announce Elo as our first recipient. The award recognizes, in particular, his outstanding contribution to the field of flow injection analysis, though Elo, of course, has many accomplishments.” 

Hansen has been recognized with numerous awards throughout his four-decade career. He has also written more than 200 scientific publications and five monographs, has presented more than 230 lectures across the world, and shares over 40 patents on FIA. Despite his impressive accolades, however, Hansen remains almost too modest. “I was really surprised when I was told I was being awarded the medal,” he said. “I knew there had been some speculation about the award being reignited but, frankly speaking, I thought I had gone into hibernation!” 

Hansen says that while his work on FIA has not brought him “pecuniary wealth”, it has certainly had many advantages. “It has brought me into contact with people all over the world, enabled collaboration on mutually rewarding research activities, and has forged strong social and collegial bonds. It is a great honor for me to receive this prize, especially when I look back at the list of recipients. I feel I’ve joined a distinguished line of people.”