"For a better world we need materials" 
Rodrigo Martins, Chair of the European Committee affair and past President of the European Materials Research Society, on the upcoming Spring Meeting of the European Materials Research Society, 2-6 May 2016, Lille.
Your Spring Meeting of the European Materials Research Society (E-MRS ) will kick off on May 2. Is there a specific theme for the upcoming congress?
The E-MRS aims to discuss during their main conferences the last advances made in the field of materials, exploiting their multifunctionalities for a plethora of applications, aiming to bring comfort to citizens, contribute to the growth of market and knowledge based jobs. That is, for a better world we need materials and we are assisting the Renaissance of Materials to strengthen a better research industry focused on sustainable materials. In order to do so, we combine the creativity of our members with the innovation aspects required by the industry. We are proud to have among our symposium organizers recipients of ERC as well as promoters of disruptive and innovative concepts, and we would like to highlight the following remarks:
+ We are promoting European Network on Advanced Functional Materials courses and training, targeting a plethora of applications, such as Energy, Electronics and Health applications. As far as course and training are concerned, we are also involved in promoting the networking of Europe with North Africa countries (UNiMED network and EuroSunned project, which is devoted to Euro-Mediterranean cooperation on research & training in sun based renewable energies)
+ We have a full workshop devoted to Europe in Motion where we highlight our involvement as disseminators and study promoters in EU projects dealing with the exploitation of advanced functional materials going from education to industry
+ promotion of the area of nanomaterials and nanotechnology by launching a new journal titled npj 2D Materials and Applications together with Nature group
+ Involvement in the European Institute of Technology via Knowledge and Innovation Community in Raw Materials (KIC Raw Material) as a platform to promote and discuss critical issues connected to it, via members of the committee that I chair and belong to this governing body: Michal Popall (Director ISC International Fraunhofer ISC) and Jean Etourneau (director of the European Multifunctional Materials Institute, EMMI, AISBL)
How important is your conference as an interdisciplinary platform for developments in the field of functional materials?
As mentioned above, E-MRS aims to be the platform where we can discuss the last advances on materials concepts and their application in key areas of our society as Energy (the key field for all expected developments); Electronics (exploiting the silicon to the extreme of its potential and looking for alternative materials able to have outstanding performances or to substitute silicon in low cost disposable and full recyclable applications); Health (exploiting materials for drug deliveries and the potential that the materials have at a nanoscale for medicine applications, without forgetting nanosafty issues); Materials scarcity, that implies to look for substitution demands well supported for Modeling issues; exploiting new functionalities of materials performances, which implies a better physics knowledge concerning their properties and characteristics; to synthesis new materials and promote new methodologies to fabricate materials and to integrate them on devices. That is, materials are the front-runners of our development and it requires a multi disciplinary approach, involving expertises in the areas of: Computational Sciences and Applied Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Electronics, Sociology, Mechanics, Cultural Heritage and Restoration.
From what was said it is clear that materials science and engineering covers a multitude of topics that goe beyond a single scientific area, requiring the convergence of experts in different fields, giving to it a multidisciplinary approach, far more than the classical interdisciplinarity. Therefore, E-MRS is the right place to discuss in a global perspective what matters to us as citizens, developers, researchers, scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs and sociologists concerning the vision of a future of our society as a whole. Here, people with different backgrounds are real necessary and can promote new ideas for new fields of applications: Indeed, without materials we do not have the expected Party of Science and Technology, as a whole!
For your WCA2016 you have chosen Lille. Why?
Traditionally we have our spring meeting in Strasbourg, France, and our fall meeting in Warsaw, Poland. The idea is to use Strasbourg as the symbol of Europe (a place where we have the European Council and the EU Parliament): We are a European Society established to serve the Materials word community. Warsaw is another symbol for us, aiming to serve the Eastern European Community, a bridge across all of Europe that goes beyond the present EU borders.
We chose Lille because the Palace of Congress in Strasbourg is under construction and Lille, besides offering excellent installations for a large event such as the EMRS spring meeting that typically hosts more than 3500 attendees during 6 days, turns out to be the perfect place to converge Europeans and non-Europeans as it is very close to the main European Central Airports, such as London, Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels (it takes one hour to all of them, served by fast trains) and also in cross roads of different European countries, besides France.
For those delegates who cannot join you in France, can they participate remotely?
We are promoting this and for our key events such as the European in Motion and Match workshops, it is indeed possible. The ones responsible for developing this technology are our core team based in Strasbourg and led by Sylvain Schoeffter: sylvain.schoeffter@european-mrs.com. We also plan to have the plenary speakers open to all.
What are the main challenges for the European Materials Research Society these days?
Materials Science and Technology is a key enabler technology serving multisectorial fields. E-MRS as a strong European-wide network association of the materials community involving more than 5000 members is deeply concerned about its mission in promoting advocacy and outreach of the materials science and technology and in disseminating the scientific and technical results achieved not only inside the Academy and Industry community linked to it but beyond it. This means to reach stakeholders and policy makers at European and Global levels. To do so, E-MRS is exploiting their global connections via the International Union of Materials Research Society (IUMRS) that holds 14 MRS societies worldwide and has the status of UNESCO Non Governmental Organization acting close to the International Council for Science of UNESCO (ICSU) to define global science and technology strategies, besides holding the UNESCO Materials chair attributed to all Europe. The key areas that we elected as priorities for E-MRS action are:
1. Promoting TWIN network between Europe and North Africa
2. Promoting Advanced training network focus on advanced materials serving the fields of Health, Energy, Electronics and Security
3. Energy as a cross cutting field for all global strategy of developments
4. CO2 impacts and challenges
5. Nanomedicine
6. Promoting the area of nanomaterials and all impacts related to it
7. To be involved with IUMRS in distinguishing outstanding individuals belonging to government organizations, public/private institutions, and international companies working together
8. To promote the concept of Inter Regional Smart specialization networking
The European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) has more than 3,200 members from industry, government, academia and research laboratories who meet regularly to debate recent technological developments of functional materials. The E-MRS differs from many single-discipline professional societies by encouraging scientists, engineers and research managers to exchange information on an interdisciplinary platform and by recognizing professional and technical excellence by promoting awards for achievement from student to senior scientist level. Each year, E-MRS organizes, co-organizes, sponsors or co-sponsors numerous scientific events and meetings. The major society conference, the E-MRS Spring Meeting, is organized every year in May or June and offers on average 25 topical symposia. It is widely recognized as being of the highest international significance and is the greatest of its kind in Europe with about 2,500 attendees every year.
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