President of IUVSTA 2022-2025
Three years ago, when the Belgian Vacuum Society proposed my name as future president for IUVSTA, I was full of ambitious goals for the Union. In my “vision”, that I will only briefly summarize here, I wanted to take advantage of the multicultural and worldwide nature of IUVSTA to generate new ideas through extended exchanges between people. To do that, I proposed to modify the format of ECMs to allow more time for brainstorming and discussions. I had also the ambition for IUVSTA to have a higher societal impact, by being more involved in societal challenges, such as climate change, sustainability, diseases, ageing of part of the world population,…I proposed to better interact with international organizations, increase the number of members, and take better care of the existing ones. I also suggested to rebuild the communication strategy for the benefit of the members, and to work, together, on how to increase the number of workshops and schools. Finally, there was a chapter on a better coordination of IUVSTA – conferences.
And then COVID came….
During three years, the activities of the Union have been strongly reduced. Thanks to the impulse and the energy of the President of the 2019-2022 triennium, Anouk Galtayries, the Union could survive, through monthly virtual meetings between the officers, through virtual ECMs and General assemblies, and through a few hybrid meetings. The help and the huge work of the Secretary General, Christoph Eisenmenger-Sittner, to organize all the new virtual procedure were immense. All the officers, Jay Hendricks, Scientific Director, Katsuyuki Fukutani, Scientific Secretary, Arnaud Delcorte, Treasurer, Lars Montelius, past-President, did their duties in very difficult times. The help of the recording secretary, Ana Silva, was greatly appreciated. Some workshops and schools also took place, but in a new format. The IUVSTA prizes, Ebara award, and Welch awards have been awarded thanks to the award and scholarschip committee headed by Martin Wüest, and the IUVSTA communication is more active than ever thanks to the communication committee headed by Ivan Petrov. Webinars have been launched thanks to the Education committee headed by Alberto Tagliaferro. The congress planning committee, headed by Anton Stampfl, gives us now a clear view of future events, avoiding overlapping between conferences.
Remarkably, some major changes, that were listed in my “vision”, already started: 2022 is the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD2022). IUVSTA is one of the founding actors for this decision of the United Nations. A new informal workgroup dedicated on sustainability was launched…
The direction for IUVSTA doesn’t change, only the roads are different. On top of the COVID pandemic, we are now facing in most parts of the world an economic crisis. This is making the core business of IUVSTA more difficult than ever. Therefore, my main duty as president, for the next 3 years, will be to help IUVSTA and its member societies, together with the officers, the divisions, and the members of ECMs, to go over these trouble waters. For most of the member societies, the regular activities have been, at best, transformed to virtual events, at worst, postponed or even cancelled. In all our laboratories through the world, research was basically stopped during at least 6 months. Teaching went to virtual in most schools and universities, and we already see now the psychologic disaster for the young population in many countries. We should take care of this: young people are the future of the society. Human beings are social animals, and being forced to interact through computers and screens only is against our profound nature. More than ever, Science and Education, the two main businesses of IUVSTA, are necessary. Therefore, during the 3 coming years, starting now in Sapporo, we will work on getting IUVSTA back to enthusiasm, creativity, imagination. We are lucky, as we build on an already solid base, thanks to what has been done during the current triennium and before. More specifically, together with the Scientific director, we will continue to work on increasing the number of workshops and schools. The Union has already increased twice the budget for workshops and schools and, despite this, this budget is never fully used. The last triennium is of course exceptional, but the total amount available is not the key. In the last triennium, we decided to increase the maximum amount allowed by event, to facilitate their organization. Unfortunately, we could not validate the efficiency of this decision due to the pandemic. We will continue with the same amount per event this triennium, and we will accompany the candidates to promote more workshops and schools. To broaden the attendance to our events, to reach new people, to be an example for new generations, IUVSTA will promote diversity and inclusivity in all the events that will carry the IUVSTA logo.
Sustainability is not only a keyword for many of our research projects, it should also be reflected in our management. Therefore, the organization of virtual or hybrid events will be favored, with appropriated funding. Webinars, especially for teaching will continued to be promoted. When possible, it will be asked that ECMs are attached to a scientific meeting, in order to combine Science and IUVSTA management.
The sustainability workgroup will be established as an “informal” division of IUVSTA, working in close coordination with the other divisions, and will be encouraged to submit proposals for events (workshops, schools, TTC, others…).
IUVSTA will listen to the needs of its member societies, and, within its missions, help them. Specific attention will be given to the new members, to fully integrate them in the Union, and to help them developing their activities.
The IUVSTA community is made of scientists, engineers, industrials active in domains that are of crucial importance for building a better world. Nanotechnologies, plasmas, coatings, electronic materials, biointerfaces, vacuum, thin films, catalysis, tailored surfaces and interfaces, advances in surface analysis, …. all these areas are essential to solve the world challenges. We must be proud of what we have done already, and of what we will do: members of the IUVSTA community do not “palaver” about the world challenges and they do not palaver about how to solve them, they act daily on finding these solutions, in their work.
IUVSTA is a “union”, and the moto of my native country is “Unity is strength”. We should use this strength to pursue the objectives of the Union, for the benefit of the member societies, and for the benefit of Society.