EuChemS Historical Landmarks

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The EuChemS Historical Landmarks programme aims at designating sites in Europe where:

  • events in chemistry (be it social, theoretical, experimental, pedagogic, industrial…) occurred that
  • have been important to the European or local (regional) chemical community and/or
  • have inspired a sense of European or local (regional) belonging.

Chemistry is an integral part of the Cultural Heritage of Europe. However, while there are many touristic signs marking the very place where important intellectual developments or events happened, only a few chemical sites are identified and publicised. Most of the existing programmes are run by national chemical societies and therefore often overlook the European, and even the international dimension, of the chemical sciences.

For all these reasons, EuChemS decided to set up EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award. It is meant to reinforce the sense of belonging of European chemists and remind them that as far as the history of Chemistry goes, people and ideas alike have circulated, been shared, and shaped through meetings and communication. It would also bring to the general public some sense of how Chemistry is part of the general cultural heritage and history of every European citizen, especially as the plaques are accompanied with communication material providing information on the discoveries and breakthroughs celebrated, and the impact they had.

EuChemS takes into account that some countries already have national landmarks programmes, while others have an interest but have nothing in place. Given this, two levels of the EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award are foreseen:

  • for initiatives with impact at the European level and
  • for initiatives with impact at the regional level.

Please carefully read the guidelines for the EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award.

Brigitte Van Tiggelen (Chair of the Landmark Selection Committee) is currently the chair of the EuChemS Working Party on the History of Chemistry. She specialised in the history of chemistry after graduating both in Physics and History, and her PhD was devoted to a Belgian contemporary of Lavoisier, a thesis for which she was laureate of the Belgian Royal Academy. Brigitte has spent research periods in the US (Philadelphia), the UK (Cambridge), France (Paris) and also Germany, where she was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Regensburg. Affiliated with the Centre de Recherche en Histoire des Sciences at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-neuve, Belgium), she is currently the Director for European Operations at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, US.

Whilst her doctoral thesis focused on an 18th century chemist, she has also published work on 19th and 20th century topics. Her research interests include domesticity, women and couples in science, materials and philosophy of chemistry, and history of chemistry in Belgium (among other publication, a book: ‘Chimie et Chimistes de Belgique’, 2004). She co-edited (with Patrice Bret) ‘Madame d’Arconville (1720-1805), une femme de lettres et de sciences au siècle des Lumières’, which was published in 2011, and, along with with Annette Lykknes and Donald L. Opitz, in 2012 ‘For Better or For Worse? Collaborative Couples in the Sciences’. More recently, Brigitte co-edited with Pierre Teissier and Cyrus Mody, ‘From Bench to Brand and Back: The Co-Shaping of Materials and Chemists in the Twentieth Century’ and with Donald L. Opitz and Staffan Bergwik, ‘Domesticity in the Making of Modern Science’. To promote the history of science among the general public and especially among secondary school teachers, she founded Mémosciences, a Belgian non-profit organisation that sets up an annual conference cycle on the history of chemistry, scientific conferences, and teacher workshops.

2nd mandate (01/01/2022 – 31/12/2025)

Torsten John is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA. His research is focused on revealing biochemical structure and function of peptides, DNA and lipids at the molecular level, and to design new materials. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biophysical and Computational Chemistry from Leipzig University, Germany, in 2020. During his career, he has been working at the Leibniz Institute of Surface Engineering (IOM), Germany, and at Monash University, RMIT University, and The University of Queensland, Australia, among others. Torsten John was selected as a SciFinder Future Leader in 2017, an Australia Awards–Endeavour Research Fellow in 2018, and a Feodor Lynen Research Fellow from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2021. Torsten John is an active member of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) and was the Secretary of the European Young Chemists’ Network (EYCN) from 2017-2019.

2nd mandate (01/01/2022 – 31/12/2025)

Pierandrea Lo Nostro is Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence since 2011. He completed a PhD (1992) in chemical sciences at the University of Florence and MIT. He joined the University of Florence in 1998 as a researcher, after being a research scholar at the University of South Florida between 1989 and 1992.

In addition, he serves as the Secretary of the European Colloid and Interface Society, a member of the Executive Board and Supervisor of the Chemistry collection in the Museum of Natural History of the U. Florence, Editor-in-Chief for Substantia. An international journal of the History of Chemistry and lead the project “Innovative nanotechnological approach for the conservation of the anatomical waxes of the Zoology section at the Museum of Natural History in Florence”.

Since 2015, he teaches a course on the History of Chemistry and Physics.

He organised various conferences, including Substantia Short Talks (2021), The Periodic Table: our Legacy for current Challenges (2019) and Aqua Incognita, Galileo 400 years on: Why Ice floats on Water (2013).

He also participated in the following conferences:
• 12th International Conference on the History of Chemistry, Maastricht, 2019: “The Hofmeister series. A tantalizing yet unsolved problem in Physical Chemistry”.
• La Chimica nei musei: creatività e conoscenza, Pisa, 2019: “Collezioni chimiche
• ESHS (European Society for the History of Science) Conference, Bologna, 2020: “Hugo Schiff and his bases, a story begun in the XIX century”.
• Heritage and History of Chemistry – WPHC, online event, 2021: “The Chemistry
collection at the Museum of Natural History in Florence”.

1st mandate (01/01/2022 – 31/12/2025)

Dr. Rachel Mamlok-Naaman is the head of the National Center of Chemistry Teachers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and a previous coordinator of the chemistry group at the Department of Science Teaching (until June 2016). In addition, she serves as: the chair of DivCED EuChemS, IUPAC Titular member of the committee on chemical education, and  executive member of the IUPAC gender gap committee. Her publications focus on the topics which are related to students’ learning (cognitive and affective aspects of learning), and on teachers’ professional development. She got several awards: Two from the Weizmann Institute – 1990-Bar-Ner (for teaching, and 2006-Maxine Singer for professional development of science teachers), and: (1) ACS award (2018) for incorporation of sustainability into the chemistry curriculum, and (2) IUPAC award for 2020 distinguished women in chemistry and chemistry engineering.

1st mandate (01/01/2022 – 31/12/2025)

James Sullivan is an Associate Professor at the University College Dublin (UCD) School of Chemistry in Dublin, Ireland. He joined UCD In 2000 after completing a BSc (1992) and a PhD (1996) at UCC and postdoctoral research at the University of Reading (1996-1999) and Queen’s University Belfast (1999-2000). 

His doctoral project studied the Selective Catalytic Reduction of NOx over zeolitic and vanadia-based catalysts and his post-doctoral research looked at Isotopic Transient Kinetic Analysis of the same reaction and green approaches to Selective Catalytic Oxidation reactions.

Since coming to UCD his research has involved the study of heterogeneous catalysts in the promotion of reactions of interest in Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry. Applications have included the remediation of diesel-engine derived Particulate Matter, the photocatalytic destruction of aqueous pollutants, the use of di-oxygen as a green selective oxidant, the synthesis of sustainable biodiesel, the upgrading of biomass waste to value added products, the artificial photosynthesis reaction to generate sustainable fuels and chemicals and the use of Plasma-Assisted Catalysis to store excess renewable electricity in fuels and chemicals.

As well as acting on the HLAC he presently serves as the treasurer of the Division of Green and Sustainable Chemistry of EuChemS and an Ireland representative to the European Federation of Catalysis Societies.

Within the UCD School of Chemistry he is currently the chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee, deputy Head of School and directs the BSc programme in Chemistry with Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry.

1st mandate (01/01/2022 – 31/12/2025)

  • Ioannis A. Katsoyiannis, 2018 – 2021
  • Luigi Campanella, 2018 – 2021
  • Peter Childs, 2018 – 2021

EuChemS Historical Landmarks

Map of the EuChemS Historical Landmarks. Click on one of the markers to see more information about these Historical Landmarks.

Jungfraujoch High‐Altitude Research Station, Switzerland

In the early last century, pioneering scientists in Switzerland initiated the initiative to set up an international research center for atmospheric and environmental science issues, combining
chemical and physical measurements in an innovative manner. After having finished the railway from Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch, which is still the highest railway station in Europe, the
conditions for the construction of the station were met. Influenced not least by the events of World War I, it took almost 10 years until 1921 for the project to be officially approved and implemented
with the establishment of the international foundation. Another 10 years later, in 1931, the research station was officially inaugurated. From the very beginning, international cooperation was given high priority, so it is not surprising that the Max Planck Society from Germany and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, among others, were founding members of the foundation. Based on this 100-year cooperation, both the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh) and the Gesellschaft Österreichischer Chemiker (GÖCH) support this nomination. The cooperation of the three Alpine countries as well as seven other European countries is underlined by the Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO) initiative and the regular symposia that guarantee scientific exchange throughout the community.

300 years of Chemistry in 300 km

Three outstanding chemistry laboratories have been preserved in Coimbra (18th century),Lisbon (19th century) and Porto (early 20th century), Portugal. As standing examples of European academic heritage, the laboratories are now integrated in museums – the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra (MCUC), the NationalMuseum of Natural History and Science, University of Lisbon (MUHNAC), and the Natural History and Science Museum,University of Porto (MHNC-UP), respectively. They have all been restored and are permanently open to the public, each withan average attendance of 80,000-90,000 visitors per year. Their historic atmosphere and esprit du lieucaptivate the imagination of visitors of all ages and backgrounds, offering extraordinary opportunities for the interpretation ofthe history of chemistry to society, as well as public engagement with contemporary science.
The three Portuguese laboratories enable a journey through almost 300 years of chemistry and science through ‘authentic’ insitu sites separated by 300 km. Although there are certainly very important historic laboratories in Europe, no other countryhas this possibility unless through recreations, dioramas or scenography.
The Laboratories are resources of the research infrastructure PRISC (Portuguese Research Infrastructure of ScientificCollections), integrated in the Portuguese Strategic Roadmap of Research Infrastructures since 2016.

The Justus Liebig’s Laboratory has been awarded the EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award in recognition of the role it played in the history of chemistry and the European sense of belonging between people and ideas. Located in Gießen (State of Hesse) in Germany, the chemist Justus von Liebig worked in this laboratory from 1824 to 1852. He subsequently worked in Munich until his death in 1873. 

Justus von Liebig is considered as one of the main founders of organic chemistry and is well known for his major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry. Liebig is also recognised for transforming chemistry education: he is one of the first chemists who engaged with his students by combining research and teaching in a laboratory – as we know it in its present form. Furthermore, Liebig was a truly European figure:  his major advisor – who also directed his PhD thesis – was Karl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner, while he did what today would be called his postdoc with Guy-Lussac. He popularised chemistry through his book Chemische Briefe (1844) which was widely disseminated and translated in Europe, and founded the journal Annalen der Chemie (1832), later known as Liebigs Annalen, which became the leading journal in chemistry and is still in circulation today as the European Journal of Organic Chemistry.

Erected in 1818, Justus Liebig’s Laboratory building was turned into a museum in 1920. Rich collections of historical documents, including hundreds of letters, chemistry books, pictures, chemical apparatus, scientific instruments, and personal memorabilia make the Liebig Museum one of the most impressive chemistry museums worldwide. It is also one of the oldest laboratory buildings remaining, where the visitor can experience the original function and the working conditions of the time when chemistry entered the universities. Moreover, technical installations, including ovens, hoods, and drainage, remain well preserved.  

On the occasion of Liebig’s 200th birthday in 2003, his place of work in Gießen was awarded the ‘Historic sites of Chemistry’ Award (Historische Stätten der Chemie) of the German Chemical Society (GDCh), a EuChemS Member Society.  

Following the recommendations of the Landmark Selection Committee chaired by Brigitte Van Tiggelen, and the decision of the EuChemS Executive Board, two awards have been given out – one focusing on the European-wide level of meaning of the landmark, and the other on its role played at the national or local level.

European level – Mines of Almaden, Spain

The Mines of Almaden have been awarded the EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award in recognition of the role it played in the history of chemistry and European sense of belonging between people and ideas. Almadén is located in the province of Ciudad Real (Castilla-La Mancha region), in Spain. Almadén is a typical example of historic mining site producing mercury. These mines have an essential role in the history of humanity, from ancient times up to the present day.

The mines of Almaden are one of the world’s most important natural deposits of their kind. Furthermore, significant mercury production volume has been achieved in these mines, where it has also been preserved. Over the centuries, they used and retained materials of all the processes, methods, techniques and components needed for the production of mercury. Their trade, know-how, money and culture had an impact on a global scale. These mines teach us on the evolution of the scientific, technological and technical methods and procedures directly linked with the production and distribution of mercury.

The unveiling of the plaque took place on 15 September 2021. The ceremony was preceded by a symposium on the history of the mines and the mercury element. EuChemS President, Floris Rutjes, unveiled the plaque at the entrance of the mine.

Download the Press Release.

Regional level – Edessa Cannabis Factory Museum, Greece

The Edessa Cannabis Factory Museum will be awarded the EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award in recognition of its role in fostering a deep link between chemistry and local cultural heritage. The Edessa Cannabis Factory Museum is located in the center of Edessa, a city in northern Greece (Central Macedonia region of Greece) and the capital of the Pella regional unit.

In the modern period, Edessa was one of Greece’s industrial centers until the middle of the 20th century, with many textile factories operating in the city and its immediate vicinity. The Edessa Cannabis Factory Museum used to be a standard industrial unit, making ropes and twine from Indian hemp. It was the largest of the 4 Cannabis Stores in Greece in production and facilities. The only cannabis factory is located in Edessa, with its old, well-preserved machinery, preserved, to remind anyone who crosses its gates of this unknown past of Greece. It is highly maintained, both building and machinery, and is part of the city’s outdoor industrial water museum. Today, the buildings and the surrounding area of the old Cannabourg have been used as a cultural, educational and recreational area. An industrial museum was created for the history of hydromotor and cultural events.

The date of the unveiling of the plaque has not been decided yet.
More information will be provided soon.

Following the recommendations of the Landmark Selection Committee chaired by Brigitte Van Tiggelen, and the decision of the EuChemS Executive Board, two awards have been given out – one focusing on the European-wide level of meaning of the landmark, and the other on its role played at the national or local level.

European level – Ytterby Mine, Sweden

The Ytterby Mine was awarded the EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award 2018 in recognition of the role it played in the history of chemistry and European sense of belonging between people and ideas. The Ytterby Mine and the important chemical discoveries that were tied to it successfully exemplify the way chemistry is part of the general cultural heritage and history of Nordic, but also all European citizens.

Ytterby mine, famous for being the discovery site of some 8 chemical elements, celebrated the unveiling of the new EuChemS plaque in recognition of the role it played in the history of Chemistry and shared European cultural heritage on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April 2019.

The ceremony was preceded by a symposium on the history of the mine and its discoveries as well as the pivotal role it played in the history of chemistry in Europe. Over 100 people attended the ceremony, including representatives from the local municipality, Ytterby town, as well as from national chemical societies.

EuChemS President Pilar Goya, together with Malin Forsbrand, Municipality Chairman, unveiled the plaque at the entrance of the mine.

Download the Press Release.

Regional level – ABEA, Crete, Greece

The industrial complex of ABEA in Crete has been awarded the EuChemS Historical Landmarks Award in recognition of its role in foster ing a deep link between chemistry and local cultural heritage. ABEA and the important chemical discoveries and developments that were tied to it successfully exemplify the manner in which chemistry forms an important element of the regional cultural heritage and history of Crete.

The ceremony of the unveiling of the EuChemS plaque took place in June 2019.