At the end of August, from 24 – 27, we dove into the world of catalysis during Catalysis Connected. 16 engaging lectures divided over 4 days were given in the beautiful venue Museum Speelklok in Utrecht. There was a lot of interaction between the lecturers and the audience and enough time left for exploring the city. We organized this event as a post-conference of Europacat 2019, together with our partners Viran, Dutch Catalysis Society, ARC CBBC, and the Netherlands Center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion (MCEC). We are happy to have given researchers the chance to intensify their knowledge and meet established academics in the field of catalysis.
Collaboration and cross-cutting research is the heart of new scientific discoveries. With this in mind, Catalysis Connected aimed to advance the catalysis field, show the potential of collaboration, and prove the strength of Dutch catalysis. The focus of the conference was on three pillars: ‘Connecting catalysis’, ‘Connecting spectroscopy’, and ‘Connecting chemical engineering and catalysis’.
Enzymes as very useful catalysts for organic synthesis
All 16 lectures accommodated one of the three pillars. Frank Hollmann for example, associate professor at Delft University of Technology, spoke about: ‘Biocatalysis for organic synthesis: Why and how?’. He gave a critical overview over the possibilities and limitations of preparative biocatalysis. Specifically, he spoke about how enzymes are also very useful catalysts for organic synthesis, as they enable highly selective transformations under mild reaction conditions.
“Overall, biocatalysis offers a lot of exciting opportunities but also faces some significant challenges en route to becoming a standard tool for organic synthesis.”
– Frank Hollmann –
Different spectroscopic methods in catalysis: potentials and drawbacks
Another inspiring lecture was given by Elena Groppo, associate professor at University of Turin. She focused on: ‘Spectroscopy & catalysis: An eye on the active sites, but not only’. Supported by two cases, she took the audience along a journey through the potentials and the drawbacks of different spectroscopic methods in catalysis. Groppo showed that spectroscopies not only allow understanding the nature of the active sites and identifying relevant reaction intermediates, but also permit revealing the cooperative role of ancillary ligands and of the support in the definition of the catalytic action.
Young scientists and experts discuss future challenges in catalysis
Catalysis Connected wanted to educate early-stage researchers, PhDs, and postdocs by experts in the field of catalysis and material sciences. Therefore, the whole conference emphasized on scientific discussions and informal interactions between lecturers and the audience. Attendees of the conference indeed experienced an open and interactive setting. So did Guusje Delen, Chemistry Ph.D. candidate at Utrecht University, by stating:
“What made Catalysis Connected stand out as a conference, was the distinct focus on discussion between the speakers and their audience. I enjoyed the invigorating mix of established and young researchers and that an environment was created where fellow scientists were encouraged to ask, suggest and together delve into a subject, each with their own background, tool box and point of view. A great example for me was the excellent presentation of Ivo Filot, a theoretical chemist, who managed to actively engage every experimental scientist in an enlightening and fun debate.”
Besides the lectures itself, a poster session, a boat trip through the canals of Utrecht, a tour through Museum Speelklok as well as the coffee breaks, lunches and dinners, facilitated interaction.
We again thank all lecturers for sharing their knowledge and look back at a captivating and constructive conference.