A Reflection

The enduring memory I shall have from my 6 years on the Presidential Council of EuChemS will be the wonderful warmth shown to me by so many people as well as their friendship, help and support.

As a “new boy on the block” I knew very little, so the welcome and support I received firstly from Ulrich Schubert, Franco de Angelis and Nineta Hrastelj was essential. Since then, I have visited many Divisional and Working Party conferences and Member Societies to talk about chemistry or EuChemS, to award prizes or just to be with you. Many more of you I have met at European Chemistry Congresses, General Assemblies and meetings of Division Chairs. Sometimes I have been able to celebrate important milestones with you, in others, I hope EuChemS has been able to offer support when times were difficult. Without exception, everyone has been extremely kind and welcoming and it has shown me what wonderful people lead and work in chemistry in Europe. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you so much for your many kindnesses.

When I started, I was aware that there was room for better integration of the Professional Networks, Member Societies and the EuChemS centre. A meeting in Brussels with Professional Networks and a strategic meeting at the General Assembly in Torun helped in identifying ways forward. I hope you will agree that substantial progress has been made in this respect and that we continue to move in the right direction.

It is so important that these contacts run smoothly and are based on mutual trust.

You are the raison d’être for EuChemS.

Looking back over my six years so many things have happened that it is very difficult to pick out a few which give me the most pleasure in which to have played a minor part. One of the first was attending the very sombre and sad 100th Anniversary of the first major use of chemical weapons in warfare in Ypres in April 2017 together with David Phillips, a past President of the RSC and Thomas Geelhaar, President of the GDCh. This led EuChemS to take a major interest in chemical weapons and the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), leading to the Seville declaration on the use of chlorine in warfare, which was signed by 31 Presidents of Member Societies or their representatives.

More recently, the EuChemS Historical Landmarks are a wonderful innovation which have been greatly welcomed by the community. Jan Mehlich’s comprehensive on-line course on ethics for chemists, Good chemistry – methodological, ethical, and social dimensions, is a major contribution from a large number of people. Now that is has been piloted, I really urge all of you to use it in your teaching establishments because it contains so much that every chemist should know and act upon, but which they are not usually taught.

Of course, many people in EuChemS have devoted huge amounts of time to the International Year of the Periodic Table, EuChemS having been involved from the very inception of the idea by Sir Martyn Poliakoff. The book, Women in their element; the Murcia conference ‘’Setting their Table: Women and the Periodic Table of Elements’’; the EYCN Video Competition, ‘’In their Element’’ (> 250 entries many of outstanding quality); The Video Game, Elemental Escapades. A Periodic Table Adventure (already downloaded more than 2000 times and translated by EYCN members into 12 different European languages) and the 90 Elements Periodic Table, which was launched in the European Parliament  by Catherine Stihler MEP, with whom it has been such a pleasure to build up a professional and personal relationship, have all been very successful. They have raised the profile of chemistry and of EuChemS. They have considerable momentum behind them, and a Task Group is trying to ensure the momentum does not stop at the end of the year. There must be a continuing legacy.

I cannot finish without saying a huge “thank you” to Nineta for the amazing work she does for EuChemS (and did for me personally) often at strange times and in different places but always with tremendous tact and efficiency. Thank you too to Alex Schiphorst and Marta Kucza who have been fantastic working far more than they should to ensure everything is delivered very well and in time. Before them, Bruno Vilela, Irina Simion and Sofia Minero, also did tremendous work.

I leave EuChemS with something of a heavy heart. It has been an incredible experience for me. However, I leave with the knowledge that the organisation is on the up. Pilar is an outstanding President, Eckart is a wonderful Treasurer and we are very lucky to have found Floris to be the next President. I am so grateful to everyone who has served in the Executive Board.

It has been a huge pleasure to work with so many inspirational people from so many countries. Everyone has been prepared to state their ideas and debate in a rigorous and courteous manner. This is the way business should be conducted and it has been a pleasure to be involved.

My last word is to the Royal Society of Chemistry and especially Robert Parker, Dierdre Black, Helen Pain and Sarah Thomas. They proposed me for President and have financially supported all my travel and other expenses. They have been unbelievably generous above all with their time, support and advice, without which and the unfailing support of my beloved Rosemary, I would not have been able to do the job.

David Cole-Hamilton
EuChemS Vice-President


General Assembly 2019, Bucharest

This year’s annual meetings, the General Assembly, the Executive Board, and Professional Networks meeting were kindly hosted by the Romanian Chemical Society. They took place on the 3 – 4 October 2019 at the Politehnica University of Bucharest.

This year’s General Assembly saw wide ranging discussions and developments. In the first instance, Floris Rutjes from the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society (KNCV) was elected as EuChemS President-Elect. Eckart Rühl, of the German Bunsen Society for Physical Chemistry was re-elected as EuChemS Treasurer. Two new members of the Executive Board were also elected: Ioannis Katsoyiannis (Association of Greek Chemists) and Rinaldo Poli (French Chemical Society). The new roles will officially begin in January 2020. The General Assembly also voted in favour of two new Supporting Members: the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3), and ChemPubSoc Europe. Find out more about the meetings here.

EuChemS Secretariat