Young chemists rule: recent highlights

From May 2017 to March 2019 I was honoured to be Chair of the EYCN, the young division of EuChemS, which is a motivated team of young scientists from 28 European countries, counting 40 official delegates, representing and supporting more than 45.000 early career chemists across Europe. The EYCN aims to provide development and networking opportunities to early career chemists, to improve the visibility of chemistry and to bring it closer to a wider audience and to people from outside the research fields – including schools, partners in industry, business, and management. However, all our activities and actions are built on the voluntary work of all the young chemists actively involved in the EYCN like me. But sometimes it is not easy to combine these duties with the daily work activities and private life. Nevertheless, I think the last two years have been the best period of my life.

I truly believe in education, research and networking, and every day I sought new challenges to help people and to give my support in shaping a more sustainable future. I’m also an extroverted young chemist, enthusiastic and very proactive. I like to travel, to create new connections and work with multicultural teams. So, working in the EYCN was simply perfect for me. During my time as Chair, I really worked hard to give a better structure to the EYCN and looking back, I am very proud of the achievements of my tenure, thanking also the former board members that helped me in shaping a new EYCN.

I think that the secret is passion and commitment.

Personally, I tried to streamline the work of the EYCN, empowering and encouraging the delegates to be as active as possible but always being on hand to support their ideas and projects and recognising their work. I tried to empower the EYCN’s presence on social media because I think that communication is a key. Listening to the opinions of other people was crucial for teambuilding. From the beginning, I tried to create a group of friends rather than simply a working network. If you think about it, this way of working is just more fun and twice as successful because we shared joy and achievements.

In the last years, more than 30 initiatives were coordinated or supported by the EYCN at a global level, in Europe and abroad. Among these, more than 20 conferences were sponsored and around 30 young chemists were awarded prizes for their outstanding scientific contributions. Moreover, the EYCN received positive feedback from a large community of chemists for its photography contests Photochimica and the video contests ‘Chemistry Rediscovered’. In addition, strong interaction and dynamic action coordination between all EYCN delegates was ensured through the organisation of an annual Delegate Assembly (DA) and monthly web meetings. All these events and projects would not have taken place without the support of our mother society (EuChemS), all the member societies, and the fruitful partnership with Evonik Industries.

In the last years, the EYCN definitely increased in number of societies, active delegates, projects, partnerships, sponsors and followers not only in Europe but all over the world, thanks also to our collaborations with the ACS-YCC and IYCN. Those achievements showcase that we are working in the right direction and I am sure the new board will keep working towards a better future!

Alice Soldà
EYCN Past Chair

Young chemists rule: new challenges

I remember when it happened. I was in Bremen, last March, for the 15th EYCN Delegate Assembly (DA) and the 21st JCF Spring Symposium / 2nd EYCheM. It was only my second DA, and I was hooked with the idea. Meeting a selection of Europe’s finest in Chemistry; chosen by their national societies to represent their country. For those who don’t know it, DA has an electric feeling. We meet every year in a city in Europe and design projects and ideas to engage younger generations with Chemistry and promote events and collaborations to help early career chemists across Europe. And yet, did I dare to think I could present myself to be the next EYCN Chair? Fast forward a couple of days and there I was signing as Chair for the next two years.

I am not much different from any of you.

I have always loved to learn new things and sharing it with others. I love my job as a researcher, and I have seen what education and reasoning can do to the outcome of critical thinking for younger generations.

In the era of “Fake News”, many related to chemistry, I feel exhilarated to add my contribution to improve the gap between chemists in the lab and Europe’s next generations.

I had enormous shoes to fill in. Alice Soldà, our previous EYCN Chair, together with the former EYCN Board, had started to spin a wheel of well-thought projects (see above). The new EYCN Board is determined to improve these projects in the upcoming years, but we also need to evolve! New ideas are coming in: a collaboration with Pint of Science, photo contest through Instagram, and many more.

What does the future bring for EYCN? I guess you will have to keep in touch! ☺

Antonio M. Rodríguez García
Chair of EYCN