Members Perspectives

Thirsty in Hungary – European Chemistry Thematic Network General Assembly and Annual Meetings

Livia Simon Sarkadi, Chair of the local organising committee (left), the ECTN Award of merit recipients (top right), and Javier García Martinez, President of IUPAC (bottom right)

The European Chemistry Thematic Network (ECTN) celebrated its General Assembly and Annual Meetings in Budapest on 8 and 9 April 2022. More than fifty people attended in person and many more joined in via videoconference. The conference was successfully organised by Livia Simon Sarkadi of the Institute for Food Science and Technology, Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

We were honoured to be addressed by the President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Javier García Martinez. We were treated to an eye-opening lecture entitled ‘Building a More Sustainable Europe at Molecular Level’. In the context of sustainability and the circular economy, the concept of Circular Chemistry was introduced, which, in discussion with the conference delegates, was expanded to Circular Education.

The main result of the meeting was the setting up of four new working groups:

  • Eurolecturer Academy: To promote professional development of STEM lecturers in the European context, knowledge sharing and exchange, and facilitate collaboration between lecturers in Europe.
  • Image of Chemistry: Engaging the chemical community and society in general, in positive aspects of chemistry.
  • Updating Core Chemistry: Revisiting the original Tuning project and update it in this fast and ever-changing technological age.
  • Developing Online Teaching Material: The production of videos, podcasts, webinars to MOOCs, online exams and virtual laboratories.

Alongside these working groups, our members are also actively participating in two Erasmus+ projects of which we are partners:

  • STEM Continuous Professional Development: promoting discipline-oriented Continuous Professional Development among STEM lecturers
  • Digital Support in Chemistry Teaching: supporting digitalisation of European chemical faculties.

A high point of our meeting was the recognition and celebration of the great contribution of Professors Bill Byers, Mariano Fajardo, Antonio Laganà and Arne van der Gen, by bestowing on them the ECTN Award of Merit and Emeritus Status in our network, while cruising down the River Danube.

The 2023 ECTN General Assembly and Annual Meeting will take place in Amsterdam 13th – 15th April. Put it into your calendar now and don’t miss out on what will surely be an inspirational event.

More information can be found on the ECTN webpage ( concerning our working groups and committees and ongoing Erasmus+ projects.

Sanjiv Prashar
President of the ECTN


We are all proud of
Katalin Karikó

Image: (Universitat Politècnica de València)

“Good ideas create hope, enrich our lives and change the world”

After the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, scientific life can perhaps finally return to normal. Of course, this would not be possible without the Hungarian female biochemist and research biologist Katalin Karikó, who had a key role in the development of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine that saved millions of lives worldwide. Interestingly, the professor was interviewed by the Hungarian Chemical Society (HCS) long before the outbreak, during which she presented the importance of mRNA-based therapy in the process of drug research and development through her own scientific career. The conversation was published in the April 2019 issue of the Hungarian Journal of Chemists. Since then, besides having received numerous awards in Hungary (Széchenyi Prize, Semmelweis Prize, Honorary Citizen of Szeged, etc.), Katalin Karikó has gained several international acknowledgements as well. In recognition of the epoch-making achievements of women in science, her portrait was also immortalised in the form of wall paintings, including in Budapest. “Multitasking characterises women” – Katalin Karikó reveals the secret of the success of female researchers. Because women are able to share their attention and do more things at the same time. “They often notice things differently and from different perspectives. This critical thinking can move science forward”. We certainly learned two things from her. A good original idea coupled with persistent enthusiasm to overcome all obstacles can lead to fantastic results and appreciation. In addition, you can be a successful scientist as both a woman and as a mother. Similar efforts are also reflected in the IUPAC Global Women Breakfast initiatives. Katalin Karikó strengthens the faith in science through her personal example. Hungary and the whole world are proud of her.

Éva Frank
Correspondent of the Hungarian Chemical Society