Summary of Girona Seminar on Predictive Catalysis


Since 1993 the Institut de Química Computacional i Catàlisi (IQCC) has been organizing the biannual series of conferences called the Girona Seminars. The early editions (until 2003) were focused on molecular similarity (main organizer Prof. Ramon Carbó-Dorca), which changed in 2006 when every new edition a different topic was chosen (main organizer Prof. Miquel Solà). From 2016 onwards the conference series will have one general topic (Predictive Catalysis) that is in line with the research aims of the IQCC (main organizer Prof. Marcel Swart). The subtheme for this 2016 edition (and the upcoming 2018 edition) is: Transition-Metal Reactivity by Design.

The Girona Seminar 2016 allowed to showcase the most significant results of the IQCC and at the same time invited the principal investigators in the field to share their knowledge and recent studies. This exchange of information and knowledge will improve the research capabilities of the IQCC (and Catalan/Spanish research area) and led to a learning experience for young researchers in the state-of-the-art of the field. It also fostered collaboration among participants, which may be supplemented through mobility programs available through national and European networks such as COST Action CM1305 (ECOSTBio coordinated by Prof. Swart) or an ITN project (in which Prof. Costas participates, vice-Chair of the local organizing committee). To make the participation and presentation of results at the Girona Seminar attractive, the 2016 edition had Nature Chemistry Poster Prizes and Talk Awards for the most outstanding contributions of young researchers. Finally, the organization of the Girona Seminar, the presence of international experts and their research, has been disseminated on social networks (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.) which will further enhance the visibility of IQCC, the University of Girona and chemical research in general, nationally and internationally.

The duration of the conference was 4 days (17-20 April 2016), and the main part consisted of 16 scientific presentations by invited speakers and 16 contributed talks selected from submitted abstracts by researchers worldwide. A quarter of the selected abstracts (i.e. four) corresponded to talks by researchers from the IQCC. There was also a poster session (with ca. 65 posters) where young researchers could present their research to other participants through informal discussions. This gave all these researchers the opportunity to present their research in a broad forum, composed of internationally renowned researchers. In total, the conference featured the attendance of 115 delegates (excluding ca. 15 Master students of the IQCC that could attend the talks as well). The 16 invited speakers were divided into Keynote and Plenary Speakers in both cases with gender balance (4 women, 4 men):

Plenary speakers
K. Bren
A.S. Borovik
S. DeBeer
B. de Bruin
O. Eisenstein
K.N. Houk
F. Schoenebeck
F. Meyer
Keynote speakers
M. Albrecht
C. Duboc
D. Balcells
B. Lotsch
D.A. Pantazis
C. Nevado
U. Ryde
J. Roithova


The 115 participants came from a total of 24 countries: Spain (54, of which 38 from the IQCC), Austria (2), Belgium (4), Chile (1), China (1), Czech Republic (3), Denmark (4), Finland (2), France (3), Germany (10), Hungary (2), India (2), Ireland (2), Israel (1), Italy (1), México (1), Netherlands (5), Norway (3), Portugal (1), Serbia (1), Sweden (1), Switzerland (4), UK (3), and USA (4).


The female / male ratio of 42:73 (i.e. 37% female of total number of participants) is not exactly gender balanced, but is representative for the field of natural sciences in Europe (36% females in 2013, Eurostat).
Including the IQCC members, a total of 44 PhD students participated in the meeting.


The Girona Seminar was able to achieve funding from a diversity of research agencies and companies (see last page of the report), which enabled the organization to provide fellowships for young researchers. As a result, the registration fee for those who asked for a scholarship could be lowered to 100 € for PhD students, and for postdocs and junior staff (early-career) to 250 €. In total, 18 PhD scholarships and 16 early-career scholarships were given.

Talk Awards and Poster Prizes

The jury for the Talk Awards and Poster Prizes was formed by the invited speakers, who were asked to evaluate the young researchers that were opting for one of the prizes. In all four cases their indications led to a clear winner (see table above).

Poster Prizes Talk Awards
A. Brinkmeier
V. Postils
Q. Peng
J. Serrano-Plana

The prize winners received a ceramic atom (handmade by Josep Matés,, a signed copy of the Wiley book on spin states, a one-year subscription to Organic Chemistry Frontiers, and either a one-year subscription to Nature Chemistry (poster prizes) or 100 € (talk awards).