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Vol. 25 No. 6
November-December 2003

IUPAC in Ottawa

Every two years, IUPAC holds a General Assembly (GA) for governance meetings of its Council and Bureau, and for all division and standing committees and other bodies. Since 1997, the GAs have been held in the same city as the biennial scientific Congress. This year the GA and Congress were held from 8–17 August in Ottawa, Canada. This was only the second time that the meetings were held concurrently—the first was in 2001 in Brisbane. An intense and intricate schedule of various committee meetings took place over 10 days with the Congress itself basically scheduled in the middle of that period. The last meeting to take place was that of the Council, the highest governing body of IUPAC, composed of delegates from the member countries.

As IUPAC President Piet Steyn remarks in his column on page 2, both the GA and the Congress are major events for IUPAC. CI asked IUPAC Executive Director John Jost and the Congress President Alex McAuley to highlight the major developments that took place in Ottawa.

The IUPAC Congress and Conference of the
Canadian Society for Chemistry

by Alex McAuley

< The General Assembly by John Jost

IUPAC Prize Winners (clockwise from left): Stefan Lorkowski (2002), Martin Trent Lemaire (2003), Gonzalo Cosa (2003), Roman Boulatov (2003), Kaihsu Tai (2003), Christoph Schaffrath (2003), Jinsang Kim (2002), Simi Pushpan (2002), and Jeroen Cornelissen (2002).
Photo by Larry Munn/Ottawa

The joint meeting of the 39th IUPAC Congress and the 86th Conference of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) was held in Ottawa from 10–15 August 2003 at the Westin Hotel and Ottawa Congress Centre. In all, 2500 participants attended, including 850 students, with slightly over 2000 papers presented, 800 as oral presentations and 1200 as posters. Although the GA of IUPAC had been held in Montreal in 1962 and the Congress in Vancouver in 1981, this was the first occasion in North America that the national chemical society has joined with IUPAC for the scientific meeting in addition to playing host to the GA and Council meetings.

The title of the conference—"Chemistry at the Interfaces"—was chosen to indicate the breadth of chemical science and to confirm the vitality of our subject not only in the macro-interfaces, from biology through materials science to physics and computing science, but also within the micro-interfaces of the various subdisciplines of chemistry.

The Congress was opened formally by Dr. Arthur Carty, president of the National Research Council of Canada, the National Adhering Organization of IUPAC. As Dr. Carty remarked, “many of the advances in these interfacial-interdisciplinary areas and much of the potential have been driven by three scientific revolutions which are now occurring simultaneously. The first is the information technology revolution sparked by the discovery and development of the all-electronic digital computer. This digital revolution is being rivaled by a second in molecular biology and biotechnology through genomics and proteomics which stands to revolutionize heath care, reengineer agriculture, and help drive a new bio-energy industry. The third revolution, only in its infancy, is in nanomaterials science. These revolutions, particularly biotechnology and nanoscience, have one characteristic which is quite distinctive and appealing. They are not in the domain of a single discipline but are multidisciplinary in nature.”

Alex McCauley, Congress president, delivers remarks at the Opening Ceremony. Seated (from left) are Arthur J. Carty, president of the National Research Council of Canada; John Vederas, president of the Canadian Society for Chemistry; and Piet Steyn, IUPAC president.
Photo by Larry Munn/Ottawa

A special effort was made to attract to the Congress scientists who are at early stages in their careers. Among those presenting results were 85 young chemists from 45 countries, all of whom had been awarded partial support from a variety of sponsors. In addition, a highlight of the opening ceremony was the presentation of nine IUPAC Prizes awarded in 2002 and 2003 to recent Ph.D. graduates on the basis of their dissertations (see photo above of winners).
> Link to Prize info

Each morning the technical program began with a plenary lecture by an internationally recognized scientist. Nobel Laureate Professor John Polanyi described “Reactions at Surfaces, Studied One Molecule at a Time;” Chemical Institute of Canada Medallist Professor Raymond Kapral lectured on “A Hop, Jump, and a Skip: Quantum Reactions in Classical Solvents;” and Professor Jean Fréchet introduced “Organic Chemistry and Molecular Design at the Interface of Biology, Engineering and Physics.” Unfortunately, Nobel Laureate Professor Richard Smalley was indisposed, but his place was ably taken by Dr. Michael Gait who provided a historical context in his lecture “50 Years of Nucleic Acids Synthesis: A Central Role in the Partnership of Chemistry and Biology.” More than a dozen CIC and CSC award lectures were presented.


"The main body of the technical program, which consisted of over 50 symposia in more than 160 sessions, was both international in scope and broad in range of topics."


The main body of the technical program, which consisted of over 50 symposia in more than 160 sessions, was both international in scope and broad in range of topics. The program included six specific chemical themes: Analytical/Environmental, Chemical Education, Inorganic, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, Organic, and Physical and Theoretical. There was also a special symposium devoted to synchrotron radiation and the opening of the Canadian Light Source in early 2004. Two symposia celebrated the careers of two distinguished Canadian chemists: Dr. Arthur Carty (Inorganic) and Dr. Almeria Natansohn (Macromolecular). Four symposia focused on supramolecular chemistry. The Chemical Education program was the largest in recent memory. Within the broad symposia topics there were areas as diverse as: Nanoparticles and Carbon Nanotubes, Environmental Quality and Human Health, Metalloproteins and Metals in Medicine, Activation of Small Molecules by Early Transition Metals, Polymers in Electronics and Photonics, the Chemistry of Nucleic Acids, Organic Synthesis, and Chemical Biology.

Opened to the public at large, a special symposium on the Public Understanding of Chemistry, was coordinated by the IUPAC subcommittee of the same name. Questions such as “How do ideas flow between chemistry and the public through the media?”; “How do they flow between the research lab and industry or public use?”; and “How do ideas flow through society?, were the central themes of the debates.”

The arrangements for the conference went smoothly until the power failure occurred late Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, this caused the cancellation of 45 lecture presentations on Friday morning, including the plenary lecture by Professor Howard Alper on “A Chemist’s Journey into Policies and Politics.” However, attempts are being made to offer authors the opportunity of depositing their papers on the conference Web site. In addition to the oral and poster presentations, a fine exhibition of equipment, books, and other materials was well attended.

Technical aspects of the Congress program were supported by many Canadian and international organizations, including, as major sponsors, the National Research Council of Canada, Wiley Publishers, Imperial Oil, and Xerox. In addition, funds were provided principally by the U.S. Army Research Office, UNESCO Paris and Canada, the Canadian National Committee for IUPAC, and the Natural Sciences and Engin-eering Research Council of Canada to assist young scientists from many countries to attend the meeting and present their results as posters or oral presentations.


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