EuChemS Historical Landmark awarded to the ABEA Company, Chania, Greece

Sometimes chemistry can change a whole community for the better. Indeed, that is why the ABEA company in Chania, Crete was awarded the very first EuChemS Historical Landmark at the local level.

The local level of the EuChemS Historical Landmark rewards the link between Chemistry, regional developments and history, showing how chemistry is part of the general culture. Chemistry drives innovation and growth at the local level. The plaques are accompanied with communication material, for ABEA a beautiful and highly informative book, providing information on the discoveries and breakthroughs celebrated, and the impact they had.

The case of ABEA is exemplary. ABEA’s founder, Jules Dey, brought with him the local know-how of Marseille in soap-making. He designed the company so that it used all parts of olives. It now produces olives, olive oil, soaps, lotions, and used to use the dried solid remnant of the olive stones as fuel. In doing so, the company provides employment for people in Crete and a secure outlet for olives grown by small farmers under difficult conditions. By providing this outlet, ABEA has been pivotal in the agricultural, economic, social and industrial development of the Chania region.

To the locals, ABEA is so much more than a factory, it is a major driver and supporter of the local economy and rural ways by making high value products and offering employment with different skills.

Following the factory’s move outside Chania, the only witness of ABEA’s past impact is the old chimney overhanging a neighbourhood in the process of rehabilitation. It is upon this chimney that the plaque now hangs. The chimney had been scheduled for demolition with a hotel occupying the site. Because of the EuChemS Historical Landmark, the plan is to make the old site into an outdoor museum.

About 60 people attended the unveiling ceremony, which was preceded by speeches from the Chania Mayor, Tasos Vamvoukas, Mr. Murakakis, Chairman of both the Bank of Chania and ABEA, the present (Athanasios Papadopoulos) and past (Fillenia Sideri) Presidents of the Association of Greek Chemists, Michalis Stratigakis, a local historian and Kyriakos Naxakis, a grandson of one of the former owners of ABEA, who proposed the landmark for the award and who organised the whole event. EuChemS Secretary General Nineta Hrastelj and I myself attended on behalf of EuChemS. A video from Greek television can be found at

The Association of Greek Chemists has been so supportive of this initiative, ensuring the long-term impact of this important award.

We are most grateful to our hosts for their sumptuous hospitality.

David Cole-Hamilton
EuChemS Vice-President

An interview with Iwona Maciejowska

We interviewd Iwona Maciejowska, Past-Chair of the EuChemS Division for Chemical Education on her experiences, achievements, and the challenges she faced.

How and when did you get involved with EuChemS? And why?

I attended the EuChemS Division of Chemical Education (DCE) meeting at the ECRICE conference in 2001. Prof. Frankowicz, representing the Polish Chemical Society, asked me, as a member of the Department of Chemical Education at the Jagiellonian University, to replace him. After years of isolation behind the Iron Curtain and the lack of resources for professional travels I was given an opportunity to observe a different dimension of teaching chemistry in Europe.

What drove you to become chair of the DCE?

 It is possible that it was due to my outspokenness and directness. In the newly connected Europe, I wanted to present the specific nature of education in the eastern European countries. In 2006, I was elected as vice-chair. Then, I made effective efforts to involve new countries in the work of DCE. When Prof. Parchmann finished her second term in 2014, she appreciated my experience in NGOs and proposed me for her position.

What would you say are the achievements you are most proud of?

I would say I am particularly proud of having published the unique Pre-service Training for Chemistry Teachers: A Guidebook of Good Practice (together with ECTN). In 2005 in Krakow, we initiated a biannual European Variety in University Chemistry Education conference. We also reorganised the Division’s activities by preparing a monthly Newsletter, offering its members work in thematic groups (e.g. in the ‘Good chemistry’ on-line course).

What has been the most challenging?

Education issues constantly need to fight for their place in many universities and scientific societies in Europe. The diversity of pre-university education systems and pre-service teacher training models in different countries can effectively block interesting initiatives, such as European accreditation/standards of preparation for the profession of chemistry teacher.

What role do you think the DCE has and can play at the European level?

Sometimes we forget that universities have three equally important missions: education, research and service to society. Each level of education, including tertiary one, needs to be based on the results of educational research and the professionalisation of teachers. The task of the Division, among other things, is to look for new activities to promote chemical education research and practice in Europe.

What 3 recommendations or tips would you give to your successor and to other future chairs of EuChemS Professional Networks?

Good communication within the Professional Network and of national delegates with their societies is a key factor for divisions’ activities. Do as much as possible to involve the ‘underprivileged’ chemical societies in the work of your division. We need to hear the voices of all parts of Europe. Organise your work around relevant initiatives for Professional Network members: practical publications, position papers, conferences, and so on.

Alex Schiphorst
Science Communication & Policy Officer