Issue Date: July 4, 2011
Brazil attracts a crowd of chemists
More than 4,400 attendees from around the world gathered in Florianópolis, Brazil, to attend the 34th annual meeting of the Brazilian Chemical Society (Sociedade Brasileira de Química, or SBQ). The event was held on May 23–26 at the convention center of the Costão do Santinho Resort.
With a theme of “Chemistry for a Better World,” the meeting was the largest gathering of the Brazilian chemical community in history and served as a central focus for Brazil’s celebrations of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC).
The scientific program consisted of more than 4,000 presented papers—another record—with major focuses on analytical, environmental, inorganic, organic, materials, and natural product chemistry as well as chemical education. Significantly, 42% of the attendees and presenters were undergraduate students and another 30% were graduate students. The students presented their work with pronounced enthusiasm during the workshops, short courses, symposia, and poster sessions.
In recognition of the 100th anniversary of Marie Skłodowska Curie’s 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, SBQ featured an awards ceremony to honor the contributions of Brazilian women in the chemical sciences. Awards named in honor of the four female chemistry Nobel Laureates—Curie, Irène Joliot-Curie, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, and Ada E. Yonath—were presented to four Brazilian recipients. In keeping with the spirit of these offerings, more than half of the meeting participants were women.
To recognize the importance of IYC 2011 to the Brazilian community, the schedule also featured a panel discussion among American Chemical Society President Nancy B. Jackson, International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) President Nicole J. Moreau, IUPAC Executive Director Terry A. Renner, Royal Society of Chemistry President David Phillips, and SBQ Past-President Vanderlan da Silva Bolzani on “Integrated Solutions for Tomorrow’s World: The Role of the Scientific Societies.” The speakers outlined the respective societies’ events and activities that are contributing to the global celebration of IYC.
Perhaps more important, the idea of using the momentum created in 2011 to sustain the goals of IYC beyond year’s end was also discussed. In particular, Moreau noted during her presentation that the 20th century is considered by many to be the Century of Physics, the 21st century is regarded as the Century of Biology, and now it’s the Year of Chemistry. But why, she mused, should chemistry be satisfied with only a year? She went on to say that avoiding the same obscurity that has befallen previous International Years is essential and that those in attendance should devote their efforts to transforming the Year of Chemistry into the Era of Chemistry.
Certainly, the national chemical societies play a pronounced role in nurturing the continuation of IYC, but many of the sustainable interactions in international chemistry are driven not at a national, societal, or even institutional level, but at a personal level by researcher-to-researcher collaborations. This is especially true among the next generation of chemists, who increasingly will have to contend with the changing landscape of the chemical enterprise as economic and academic globalization continues.
Recognizing this, SBQ’s Bolzani and Bradley D. Miller, director of the ACS Office of International Activities, organized a joint societal symposium to spotlight the work being accomplished by three young talented chemists in the U.S., selected by the ACS Publications Division, and three in Brazil, selected by SBQ. Bolzani and Miller hope that the symposium, in addition to providing a forum to discuss cutting-edge science related to the global challenges of environment, energy, and health, will lead to the establishment of new research networks between the two nations while also highlighting the careers of the six chemists, role models for the large number of Brazilian students at the meeting.
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