Historical review of the SCQ

In a broad context, the Catalan Society of Chemistry (SCQ) dates from the late 1930s. It was then that the Catalan Society of Chemistry, together with scientists from the fields of physics, meteorology, engineering and mathematics, proposed founding the Catalan Society of Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences (SCCFQM) as a subsidiary society of the Institute of Catalan Studies (IEC), as part of the Science Section. The new Society was approved in 1931 and was officially inaugurated in January 1932, under the presidency of Josep Estadella. Chemistry was one of the sections of this Society and its first president was Ramon Peypoch.

The SCCFQM followed a normal course until well into the Spanish Civil War. The victory of the Francoist troops and the consequences it had for the Catalan institutions in general marked a period of more than thirty years in which both the Society itself and the Institute had a precarious existence in which they had to carry out their activities in secret. Figures such as Heribert Barrera and Enric Casassas played an important role in maintaining the flame of the Chemistry Section in those years. In 1976, after the death of the dictator and the official recognition of the IEC, the Society, which had incorporated an engineering section in 1973, also resumed its normal life. From that moment on, the usual activities of an academic society (organization of conferences and debates, publications, awards, etc.) began to take place regularly and the number of members also grew significantly.

The increasing activities of all sections of the SCCFQM suggested, as early as the early 1980s, that it would be better to separate the sections so that they became different subsidiary societies of the IEC. Therefore, from a formal point of view, the Catalan Society of Chemistry began its existence as a result of the decision taken by the Governing Board of the SCCFQM on 6 December, 1982, in which the IEC was asked to accept this restructuring. At that time, the Chemistry Section was headed by Carles Solà. Finally, on 30 October, 1986, Joaquim Sales, as president of the SCCFQM, said goodbye to all the partners and announced the agreement of the IEC Plenary Session to create the four new subsidiary societies. A management committee chaired by Miquel Àngel Pericàs led the first steps of the SCQ until its first president, Josep Maria Ribó, was elected. The SCQ’s Articles of Association, once in accordance with the guidelines of the IEC’s Articles of Association, were approved by the society’s general assembly on 12 February 1991 and ratified by the IEC Plenary on 5 April of the same year. The Articles of Association allowed the SCQ president to participate in the meetings of the Science Section and in the plenary sessions of the IEC. We can consider, therefore, that this is the official date of full recognition of the Catalan Society of Chemistry. Josep M. Ribó was the president of the SCQ until 1995. Pilar Gonzàlez took over until 2002, followed by Àngel Messeguer until 2008, Romà Tauler until 2013, and Carles Bo until 2020, when the current Board was elected, with Gregori Ujaque as president.

It can be said that it was during the presidency of Pilar Gonzàlez that the SCQ experienced a significant growth in membership and a push in the organization of activities. Among these, the Conference of Young Researchers of the Catalan Countries should be highlighted, a conference in which doctoral and postgraduate students present their results. These biannual conferences have been organized in many of the universities of the Catalan Countries, and always have a high attendance of young researchers and also senior researchers.

Despite the prestige and recognition of the SCQ’s work in Catalonia, there is no doubt that a legitimate aspiration was for this recognition to go further. Even today, the fact that Catalonia is a stateless nation makes it impossible for the SCQ to join the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), which only accepts state institutions. The first attempts by the SCQ to join the Federation of European Chemical Sciences (FECS) – a predecessor of the current European Chemical Society (EuChemS) – date back to 1994. Despite the efforts made to submit an attractive application, there was never an affirmative answer, mainly due to the attitude of the representatives of the Royal Spanish Society of Chemistry. However, the re-founding process of the EUChemS, which culminated in 2006, had positive consequences for the international recognition of the SCQ. The SCQ was invited to the Ordinary General Assembly held in Moscow in October 2006, in the person of its president, Àngel Messeguer, who also attended the meeting of the EUChemS Executive Committee held in Brussels in April 2007 as a guest. In this meeting he formally submitted the application for membership of the SCQ to the EUChemS. The EUChemS Executive Committee agreed to recommend the acceptance of the SCQ at the next general assembly, to be held in Frankfurt in October of the same year. The incorporation of the SCQ into the EUChemS as a full member was approved unanimously at that meeting.

Currently, the SCQ has about eight hundred members among professionals from universities and research institutes, industry and secondary education. Several members are actively collaborating in specialized sections of the EuChemS (education, energy, and the environment, among others) and have organized several international conferences of this association. Periodical publications such as the SCQ Journal or EduQ, aimed at the secondary education sector, as well as more specialized ones, such as Classics of Chemistry, complement activities that already have a long tradition. Events such as the Conference of Young Researchers, the Fèlix Serratosa and Enric Casassas Conferences, the Conference on Secondary Education, the annual celebration of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in which a diploma is awarded to students who have obtained a doctorate that year, and the scientific activities that are held every year in different Catalan universities are examples of the vitality of the SCQ. In addition, in 2019, the SCQ organized different events to celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table, and promoted celebrations in different cultural events in the country as well as publishing all the events related to the periodic table organized in Catalonia on a specific website. In fact, our society is one of the most active subsidiary societies of the IEC and also one of the IEC societies with most presence in Europe.