Laboratory for Advanced Separation Technologies

Welcome to the williams lab

Research in our laboratory is focused on solving analytical challenges across a variety of disciplines. We have pushed the boundaries of field-flow fractionation (FFF) to provide new platforms for scientists to separate and characterize their materials. By innovating and advancing the theory and practice of various FFF subtechniques we are uniquely suited to study difficult subjects like protein aggregation, colloids, complex polymeric systems, and a variety of other nanoscale materials.

Explore our recent work

Upcoming Events

We are happy to announce the Virtual Symposium FFF 2021!

With this virtual version we would like to give the opportunity to the FFF community to meet online, discuss and listen to excellent presentations and enjoy interesting posters and pitches. As in the previous FFF symposia, we plan to have a fairly broad focus covering nanotechnology, macromolecules, cells, viruses & biological particles, toxicology, environmental, food & agriculture as well as instrumentation development and theory.

The Virtual FFF2021 Symposium is free of charge. Registration enables access to the Zoom links for the symposium days and the virtual contributions. Registrations via website will open on August 4th, 2021.

Visit for more information!


New Publication!

Current lab member, Christine Plavchak, and previous students in the Williams’ lab, Carmen Bria and Billy Smith, recently published in Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry! Their publication, New Advances and Applications in Field-Flow Fractionation, highlights the unique characteristics of FFF which make it a powerful family of techniques that can address modern analytical challenges in biology, materials, and environmental studies.

You can read it at,

New publication!

Congratulations to Michael Toney, Luca Baiamonte, Dr. William Smith, and Prof. Williams on the publication of their book chapter! The book, Molecular Characterization of Polymers, is available on Elsevier’s website and will be available March 19th. Our contribution is chapter 4, Field Flow Fractionation of Polymers, which outlines the fundamentals of field flow fractionation (FFF) with a focus on asymmetrical flow FFF and thermal FFF.

Grant Award from Hamilton Company!

Congratulations to Michael Toney on receiving a grant from the Hamilton Company for $1000 of in-store credit towards the purchase of new equipment for our lab! With this grant we were able to purchase new adjustable pipettes, a calibrated glass injection syringe, and a generous supply of pipette tips. Analytical chemistry can be expensive and tedious work, our new supplies from Hamilton help alleviate those stresses.


Congratulations to Christine Plavchak and Michael Toney for winning awards for their flash presentations at the regional ACS conference! Christine won the Elsevier Coordination Chemistry award and Michael the Royal Society of Chemistry Flash Presentation award. Over 160 graduate and undergraduate students from across the Rocky Mountain Region (and beyond!) presented their work at this virtual conference and competition was tough. You can find a record of the wide array of talks presented at the following link:

W.M. Keck Mentorship Award

There are essential qualities to a great mentor. They should be an expert in their field, a good listener, give constructive criticism, and be engaged. Professor Kim Williams has all of these qualities and more. Above all other aspects, the thing I appreciate most about her mentorship is that she is willing to grow with her mentee. She helps identify strengths for you to leverage and weaknesses to improve upon. At the same time, she is constantly seeking to do the same for herself and does not hide that process from her mentee. This openness shows those with much to prove that everyone, no matter how successful, is fallible and can always better themselves. It is also important to be aware of your progress, so Kim is adamant about setting goals and reflecting on the journey. As a mentee, I gain a profound sense of satisfaction whenever I look back to see all that we have accomplished.

Reading this you may think, of course she does this for her graduate student who she is invested in. But her desire to see others succeed is not limited to her students, in fact this award is for mentorship of faculty and staff. Kim is glad to motivate, advocate for, and support anyone she can. This generosity, combined with her world renown expertise, has placed her in a position of influence which many students and faculty (both at Mines and abroad) have benefited from. Her shining example has inspired generations at Mines so it is no surprise that she has been honored with the W.M. Keck Mentorship Award.

Congratulations Kim!

Prof. Williams appointed Fellow at IPF!

In 2017 Prof. Kim Williams received a Fulbright award to collaborate with world leaders in polymer science at the Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research in Dresden Germany. Collaboration with the IPF has led to several impactful publications in polymer separations and exchange of students. In recognition of this impactful work and to encourage future collaboration Prof. Williams was named a fellow at the IPF.

Congratulations Kim!

GRADS Conference 2020

In these extraordinary times our graduate student organized conference had to adapt to a virtual setting. Presentations covered a wide range of important topics from renewable energy to fundamental physics. A list of categories and presentations can be found on the GRADS website ( and videos of the speakers may be streamed on YouTube (

A special congratulations to our group members Christine Plavchak and Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Betz who excelled in their divisions. Christine earned 1st place in the Chemistry & Chemical Engineering – Long Form section for her presentation on “Counting biological particles: analytical challenges at the nanoscale” and Lizzy earned an honorable mention for being in the top 12 of over 100 short-form poster presentations!

Please watch presentations on the GRADS YouTube channel to support research at Mines!

Outreach: Rocky Mountain Camp for Dyslexic Kids

Our research lab recently had the privilege to design and implement an activity at the Rocky Mountain Camp for Dyslexic Kids. This is a 5 week camp is filled with exciting activities and helps build a strong language foundation to propel these kids forward to success. Faculty at the Colorado School of Mines have partnered with the camp to provide world class education in science that complements this immersive program.

To build a foundation in fundamental separation techniques, and have loads of fun, we developed an educational module that leverages common household goods to teach chromatography. Students at the camp explored the ideas of mixtures, chemical attraction, and solubility through food dyes and a criminal mystery. Below are photos of our patient instructors and fun-loving students ‘un-mixing’ dyes and determining who the thief was that stole all of our cake!

Stay tuned for updates, a link will be posted with instructions on how to incorporate this module in your home or classroom.


Congratulations Dr. William Conner Smith!

William C. Smith, lovingly known as Billy, has successfully defended his thesis and completed his PhD in Applied Chemistry. While studying at Mines, Billy has been recognized for his passion and excellence in science by various esteemed scholars and organizations. His fun-loving demeanor and ability to answer endless streams of questions from those he mentored will be missed as he moves on to a postdoctoral position at the Food and Drug Administration.

Congratulations Billy! The Williams’ group wishes you the best in all of your future endeavours.