Unequal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on scientists

Each scientist has experienced different circumstances during this pandemic (the end of which is not clear at all).

Meanwhile, scientists study how scientists are affected by COVID-19:

COVID-19 has not affected all scientists equally. A survey of principal investigators indicates that female scientists, those in the ‘bench sciences’ and, especially, scientists with young children experienced a substantial decline in time devoted to research. This could have important short- and longer-term effects on their careers, which institution leaders and funders need to address carefully.” Read more on Nature

ESCB2 in Oviedo

After a very nice first contact with the chemical bonding community in Aachen, Germany in September 2017, I decided to attend the ESCB2 (Second European Symposium on Chemical Bonding) in Oviedo. The meeting will take place from September 3rd to 7th, but there will be a practical school on quantum chemical topology tools in chemical bonding just before the beginning of the conference. The programme has all the ingredients to give the audience what expected for a conference of this kind: bonding, bonding and more bonding… but some asturian sidra as well, I hope!

I will present some recent works related to alkaline-earth one electron-three center bonds, which are key for the ability of some derivatives to present electron affinities among the largest reported for neutral closed shell systems.

See you in Oviedo!


ESPA 2018 in Toledo

I am attending the next Electronic Structure: Principles and Applications conference to be held in Toledo, Spain, from 17 to 19 July 2018. In this occasion, I will present some of the results I obtained while working on boron-beryllium interactions with Dr Ibon Alkorta and Dr José Elguero at the Instituto de Química Médica (IQM-CSIC).

The venue of ESPA 2018 is a very special place: the Real Fábrica de Armas. I am also attending a special symposium in honour of Professors Otilia Mó and Manuel Yáñez from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, that will take place on Monday 16th at the same place.

See you in Toledo this summer!



Unusual Chemical Bonding Challenge

I like very much this initiative prepared by Eduard Matito,
Ferran Feixas and Henry Rzepa for the next CB2017 Conference in Aachen, September 2017. This is how the Unusual Chemical Bonding Challenge works:


The challenge is already available online on the wiki website:


From the wiki website slides can be downloaded and you can also interact with “unusual bonds” proposed by other researchers. Everyone is invited to participate in this challenge; the deadline is August 31th to be discussed during the CB2017 conference. The Organizers say that “even if you’ll not come to the conference you
can perfectly contribute to the challenge on-line only. Your contribution
will be briefly presented by the chairmen of the session during the
conference.”  Enjoy and participate!

Public speaking

You’ve probably heard this Seinfeld joke:


According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.


Knowing humans, this shouldn’t be that surprising. I’ve mentioned before that we all have this problem where we’re weirdly obsessed with what other people think of us, so it makes sense that public speaking should be our collective phobia.

Read this very interesting text by Tim Urban about public speaking, which can be very useful for scientists:  Doing a TED Talk

Rationalizing the unreasonable: there are no good academics in the EU

A very interesting text, by Jan Blommaert:

“... We had set up an international consortium earlier on, did profound content preparation, and one of our team members spent hundreds of hours and several international trips worth several thousands of Euros preparing the application. (…)

My guess is that many millions’ worth of (usually) taxpayers’ money will have been used – wasted – in this massive and mass grantwriting effort. Several hundreds of researchers will have been involved, each spending dozens if not hundreds of their salaried working hours on preparing the application, and hundreds of university administrators will have been involved as well, also spending salaried working hours on the applications. These millions of Euros have not been used in creative and innovative research – they weren’t spent on doing fieldwork, experiments or tests, nor on writing papers and holding presentations in workshops and symposiums. They were spent on – nothing.  (…)

By awarding just 1,3% of the applications, thus, a rather thoroughly absurd reality is shaped: almost 99% of the competing academics in the EU do not make the mark, and just 1,3% satisfies the EU benchmark. Now, we know that the 98,7% “losers” still have to compete in order to show that they are good enough; but when a selection bottleneck is thàt narrow, the effort, and the resources invested into it, are in effect simply wasted.

The paradox is clear: by going along with the stampede of competitive external funding acquisition, almost all universities across the EU will lose not just money, but extremely valuable research time for their staff. (…)

Read the complete text: https://alternative-democracy-research.org/2015/06/10/rationalizing-the-unreasonable-there-are-no-good-academics-in-the-eu/


Una mujer por cada nueve hombres en la élite de la ciencia europea

La élite de la ciencia en Europa sigue siendo, casi en exclusiva, cosa de hombres. Los últimos resultados de uno de los programas más prestigiosos de la UE para financiar a científicos ya consagrados así lo demuestra. Solo uno de cada 10 investigadores galardonados en la última edición de las Advanced Grants del Consejo Europeo de Investigación (ERC) es mujer. La diferencia entre sexos registrada este año es aún mayor de lo habitual. En España, entre los 13 investigadores que han conseguido este apoyo financiero, solo hay una mujer: Teresa Puig, del Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Barcelona.

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