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María Montes Bayón is the new President of Spanish Society for Analytical Chemistry (SEQA). She is a Professor of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Oviedo.

Agnes Rinaldo-Matthis is the new Secretary General of the Swedish Chemical Society.


Robert Pietrzak is the Prime Deputy President of the Polish Chemical Society. He is a Professor of Applied Chemistry at Adam Mickiewicz University.

Sari Vihavainen is the new Secretary General of the Finnish Chemical Society.



Miguel del Nogal Sánchez is the new Treasurer of Spanish Society for Analytical Chemistry. He is a professor of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Salamanca.

Interview with Ema Bojnec and Daša Žuman, winners of the EuhemS award at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) 2022

First of all, allow me to congratulate you on winning the EUCYS Chemistry award! We would be happy to hear more about you.
We are Daša Žuman and Ema Bojnec.

Daša: I am 20 years old, and I live in a small town in Slovenia, called Ljutomer. I am studying to become a teacher at the Faculty of Education at the University of Maribor. In my free time I like to play the piano, sing and engage in creative activities.

Ema: I am 19 years old. I live in Bakovci near Murska Sobota in Slovenia. I am studying social work at the Faculty of social work at the University of Ljubljana. In my free time I do gardening and play the piano as well.

Could you explain a bit about your project? What does a linear structure notation for compounds for the blind in chemistry consists of? How does it work?
We got the idea for the project because Ema was facing various difficulties in her chemistry classes due to her blindness. She also really wanted to do her Matura exam (country-level high school exam) in chemistry, but because of her blindness, it was not possible for her at the time.

The foundation of our project is SMILES (Simplified Molecular Input Line Entry Specification) – a computer program which refers to a line character system for encoding molecular structures. We used this program to help with the transcription for certain chemical compounds – but we had to add hydrogen and carbon atoms when writing chemical formulas, as in the SMILES notation, these atoms are not written, but in our notation, due to their use in chemistry, they were needed.

After reviewing the result from SMILES, we wrote a suggestion of braille characters for chemical formulae. Then we tested this by having blind people reading it and report on the difficulties they had. This was done to determine whether a blind person could read all the formulas correctly and whether certain letters, numbers or symbols could be confused or misread because of similarities. The linear structure was adjusted based on their feedback and which resulted in our project, a confirmed linear structure notation for the blind for certain chemical compounds.

The notation was tested at elementary and secondary school levels. However, we could not find any candidates at a level higher than secondary school to test it.

What specific challenges do blind and visually impaired people face in chemistry? How does your project address these challenges?
Blind students are being increasingly integrated into mainstream education programmes, using braille to follow the content of learning materials. Students at school use a braille display: an electronic device that works in conjunction with the computer it is connected to. Dealing with specific content however, may result in problems with reading braille notes, as not everything is written in a way possible to read on a braille display.

The content of science subjects such as mathematics can be written in a linear mathematical notation, based on LaTex (a notation software). However, some science topics, such as chemistry and biology, cannot be written in linear mathematical notation, as there are many different chemical compounds in these two subjects. Chemical compounds, especially their form and structure, cannot always be represented in this notation.

For this purpose, we have started to develop a special linear structure notation for compounds for the blind in chemistry, which can be used in biology, and to some extent, in physics as well.

The developed linear structure of compounds will be of great help for blind people in science subjects such as chemistry and biology. It can also be used by blind people in primary school, high school, and undergraduate chemistry and biology students to write down chemical formulas and chemical reactions. We also anticipate that the resulting linear notation of the structure of compounds will be helpful in writing chemical formulas for the preparation of new textbooks and other materials, especially in the subjects of chemistry and biology. There are no specific adaptations for the blind introduced in written materials yet, but such linear mathematical notation is already used in physics and mathematics.

Do you plan to work further on this project?

Currently, we are writing a scientific article about our project, which will be published in a journal. After the competition, we also attended several conferences and lectures where we presented our project to a wider audience. We would also like to patent the developed linear structure notation and present it in other countries around the world.

How did you hear about the EUCYS contest? What made you decide to apply?

In Slovenia, there is a yearly competition of young researchers (Tekmovanje mladih raziskovalcev Slovenije), organized by the Association for Technical Culture of Slovenia (Zveza za tehnično kulturo Slovenije), where elementary school and high school students present their research papers. Due to the good results in this competition, the jury from this competition nominated us for competing at EUCSY 2022.

Did you enjoy your time at the Award Ceremony in Leiden? Can you tell us about your experiences?

The whole week in Leiden and the competition was truly an unforgettable experience. Many bright young minds have presented their projects at the competition and all the projects were outstanding. We have met a lot of new people and gained a lot of knowledge and skills. By participating in this competition, we also got many new opportunities. After the competition, we were able to present our project at more events to even more people. Reactions from people, to whom we have presented the project, were really positive. They were always excited and surprised by the developed notation, especially because of its novelty – they had never seen anything like that before. After we presented our project to them, many people realized that the research paper deals with a serious issue and they themselves began to realize what problems blind people can face during schooling.

What makes chemistry interesting for you?

We have both liked chemistry since primary school. Especially, we both love doing experiments and different kinds of research. The project that we presented to EUCYS 2022 this year was already Daša’s 4th project.

What are your future plans? Do you consider a career in chemistry, or perhaps in some other field?

Neither of us decided to continue directly in the field of chemistry.

Daša will try to include science, especially chemistry, in her teaching. We think it is very important to introduce children to science and the research field at an early age, as this way we can stimulate their interest in it and develop their research spirit. Ema plans to study naturopathy in the future, where she will continue to work with chemistry.

As this interview is nearing its end, do you have any message to our readers?

We would like to thank the European Chemical Society for the donated prize. We are glad that you recognized our project as the best one in the field of chemistry.

We are very happy that we were able to present our project at such a big competition. We think it is very important to show people what problems blind people can face during their education and to present our solution to these problems in the field of chemistry. We hope that our notation will continue to develop and will be used in other parts of the world.

Interview with with Ema Bojnec and Daša Žuman, winners of the EuhemS award at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) 2022
Conducted by Marton Kottmayer, EuChemS Science Communication & Policy Officer