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Vol. 29 No. 6
November-December 2007

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/symposia

Macromolecules for a Sustainable, Safe, and Healthy World

by Christopher K. Ober

A strategic conference entitled Macromolecules for a Sustainable, Safe, and Healthy World (IUMACRO-07) took place in Brooklyn, New York, USA, 10–13 June 2007. Jointly organized by the IUPAC Polymer Division, and the Polymer Chemistry and PMSE Divisions of the American Chemical Society, the conference assessed the challenges facing the intersecting fields of polymer science and technology. The conference was the first meeting sponsored jointly by the three organizations.

The conference was held on the campus of Brooklyn Polytechnic University in the heart of Brooklyn, with accommodations at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. There were 251 participants, many of them students. The conference had strong international appeal, with participants from 24 countries and 6 continents, though many attendees were American. The welcome reception and conference banquet were held at the New York Botanical Gardens.

Speakers and conference attendees on the steps of the Brooklyn Polytechnic campus.

The conference was inspired by the 2002 IUPAC Strategic Polymer Conference held in Kyoto, Japan. It was the second strategic meeting sponsored by the Polymer Division to assess the current fields of polymer science and technology and strategize about the future. Professor Jung-Il Jin, Polymer Division president, opened the conference. Two presentations followed, one by Christine-Alsen Norodom of UNESCO covering education for sustainable development, and a panel discussion, chaired by Dennis Smith, that focused on current challenges for the field of polymer science. These sessions set the tone for a highly interactive conference focused on global issues and the role of polymer chemistry in solving important societal problems.

The conference format provided two plenary lectures each morning and afternoon, followed by four related parallel lecture sessions. The eight plenary speakers and their topics were as follows:

  • Joseph DeSimone from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, presented “Engineered Drug Therapies via Lithographic Processes from the Electronics Industry”
  • Richard Gross of Brooklyn Polytechnic, in Brooklyn, New York, spoke on biopolymers
  • Michael Grünze of the Universitäte Heidelberg, Germany presented “Polymer Nano-Brushes: Preparation and Physical Characterization”
  • Nobel laureate Alan Heeger, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, USA, presented “‘Plastic’ Electronics and Opto-electronics—Recent Progress in Santa Barbara”
  • Yasuhiro Koike of Keio University in Japan presented “Photonic Polymers: Bringing Us back to Face-to-Face Communication”
  • Lene Lange of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, presented “Plant Cell Wall Polymers as the Basis for Bioenergy—Challenges and Options”
  • Myongsoo Lee of Yonsei University in Korea spoke on the topic “Reversible Nanostructures from Rod Amphiphiles”
  • Qi-Feng Zhou of Peking University and Jilin University in China presented “Mesogen-Jacketed Liquid Crystalline Polymer (MJLCP) and its Use in Property and Structure Design of New Materials”

In addition to the plenary speakers, there were 72 invited lecturers and 51 contributed oral presentations, a total of 123 lectures. More than 30 speakers were from outside the USA, adding to the international character of the conference. The 68 poster sessions were lively and well attended.

Of the four sub-sessions for the meeting, two focused on health and global security, with one each on sustainable energy and environment and industrial design. Attendance at these sessions was generally high. Details of the program can be found at <http://people.ccmr.cornell.edu/~cober/IUMACRO>.

One highlight of the conference was the Biopolymer Award, presented to Robert Lenz, of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, for his contributions to polymer and biopolymer science. Richard Gross, one of the conference co-organizers, presented the award. The conference also included a minisummit with the leaders of several international polymer societies discussing potential areas of collaboration with the IUPAC Polymer Division. The focus was on international education in polymer science for developing countries and on international conferences aimed at younger scientists, with follow-up discussions planned for the next World Polymer Congress in Taipei.

The program ended with a closing ceremony that included statements by Jung-Il Jin, and Professor Abe of Tokyo Polytechnic University in Japan. The conference was organized by Kalle Levon and Richard Gross of Brooklyn Polytechnic, Dennis Smith and Anthony Guiseppi-Elie of Clemson Universty (South Carolina, USA), Hiroyuki Nishide of Waseda University, Japan, and myself.

Christopher K. Ober <cober@ccmr.cornell.edu> is the current vice president of the IUPAC Polymer Division. Ober is currently at Cornell University’s College of Engineering, in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering.


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