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next ISOM: ..and the winner is… Bergen!

At the recent International Symposium on Olefin Metathesis and Related Chemistry in Barcelona (ISOM23), the Conference Board elected University of Bergen to organize the next symposium in this series. Vidar R. Jensen and Deryn E. Fogg will co-chair the event, which will take place during the first week of July, 2021. This is a nice and timely recognition of the contributions from the Bergen group to olefin metathesis!

In addition to placing Bergen even more solidly on the “map of olefin metathesis”, the conference will offer a unique opportunity to showcase the Department of Chemistry, Norwegian homogeneous catalysis, Bergen as a conference city, and, of course, Bergen and the West coast of Norway as a superb tourist destination.

Jonas makes it into the top three

At the recent International Symposium on Olefin Metathesis and Related Chemistry, the #1 forum for exchange of the latest scientific results on olefin metathesis, Department of Chemistry contributed no less than two plenary lectures (Vidar R. Jensen and Deryn E. Fogg) and three posters (presented by Marco Foscato, Immanuel Reim, and Jonas Brattebø Ekeli) to the program in sunny Barcelona.

Poster-prize winner Jonas Brattebø Ekeli (number two from right) accompanied by the Jury Chair, Christophe Coperét (number two from left), Odile Eisenstein (right) and the Conference Chair, Xavier Solans-Monfort.

Moreover, in a fierce competition involving a total of 56 posters, Jonas was one of three poster presenters to be awarded the first price: 150 Euros donated by ACS Catalysis. Jonas’ competitors were almost all his seniors (PhD students and postdocs), which makes his achievement all the more impressive. Congratulations! He presented the poster Z-Selective Ru-Indenylidene Olefin Metathesis Catalysts with remarkable structural features, with co-authors Wietse Smit, Bartosz Woźniak, Giovanni Occhipinti, Karl W. Törnroos, and Vidar R. Jensen.

Launching DENOPTIM – the only general-purpose de novo design software for molecules

Pursuing a research vision for close-to a decade, Vidar Jensen and co-authors Marco Foscato and Vishwesh Venkatraman were happy to release the DENOPTIM software into the Open Source realm for everybody to use and to extend.

DENOPTIM is the only available general-purpose de novo design software for molecules. It may be used to design all kinds of functional molecules, ranging from pharmaceuticals to organometallic catalysts. It may thus be used, and make an impact, across chemistry. The usage of DENOPTIM is also likely to be promoted by the fact that it is freely available as Open Source from the GitHub project. The authors have documented some of the key methods implemented in DENOPTIM in the scientific literature already. (1, 2, 3).

photo: Egil

In addition to providing the world with a useful tool, the launch is also about positioning the research group on the international arena. From this perspective, a fitting and catching logo is of considerable value, and Inger Johanne pitched in with creative twists! All involved parties are congratulated!


Outreach – Everyday chemistry tips

Outreach comes in many flavors and serves different purposes, yet usually entails sharing your knowledge with laymen while promoting your institution. Other  characteristics are that outreach takes time, is poorly paid, and depends critically on your priorities. On the positive side, you may reach crazy many readers, as Tore did today.

And even more importantly, he probably nudged the public opinion of what a chemist is and does, a micron or two in the positive direction. What if we all followed suit?



UiB Action plan for HSE, 2019-2021

 A new Action Plan for Health, Safety and the Environment has just been released, based on UiB’s Strategy 2019-2022 «Knowledge that shapes society.» It is centered around three HSE goals that should characterize UiB: (i) A good working community, (ii) Safe and functional workplaces, and (iii) Good safety culture and emergency preparedness. Maybe this sounds familiar after the HSE-Day on Wednesday? Each HSE goal is a priority area specified through sub-goals for the period 2019 – 2021 and is to be followed up through measures taken at the central UiB level as well as locally through action plans developed at the MN faculty and at our department.

Ugleprisen goes to INF100

Ugleprisen, the University of Bergen’s annual prize for high quality in education, was yesterday awarded to INF100/101 for Anya Helene Bagge’s efforts to develop a new and student-activizing tool for learning computer programming. Anya is addicted to quality in education — some of you may remember that in 2017 she received the distinction as Lecturer of the Year at our faculty. At that point, she advised her fellow teachers to show that their subject is relevant and useful for the students, and to let them use their knowledge and skills for something they find interesting. The importance of activating students was emphasized also at the university leadership conference at Solstrand yesterday. Quoting Anya’s boss at the informatics department, «there seems to be a general agreement that regular lectures where the professor talks for 90 minutes are not the way to continue. The same is true for exercise sessions. We have to make sure that the students are actively learning throughout these sessions, and not just passively receiving new material or solutions to exercises. This requires all of us to think in new ways.» These thoughts resonate well with our discussions over educational topics at the HSE-Day last Wednesday.

We congratulate Anya and the Department of Informatics, and are pleased to note that all freshman students at our faculty will benefit from the good work put into developing INF100 from the fall of 2020, as part of the phasing-in of transferable skills in all programs!

Welcome Thibault!

Thibault Tubiana is a new postdoctoral fellow working with Nathalie Reuter on the FreMedBio-funded PePrMInt project. During his PhD at the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA – Paris Saclay), he studied the norovirus capsid self-assembly using molecular dynamics, homology modelling, protein/protein docking but also some experiments with Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS). During his PhD years, he taught in the Bioinformatics Master of the University of Paris Diderot (Paris VII), mainly in Python, Unix, Biostatistics and molecular visualization software. The present appointment is his second postdoc position; the first one was at a pharmaceutical company near Paris.


Summer guests

In week 26 and 27 (June 24 — July 4), VilVite will be using our two course laboratories at the 4th floor for the SommerViten program. SommerViten is directed at pupils at levels 7 to 10, i.e. the last four levels in the public school system.
Monday to Thursday these weeks, about 40 youngsters will be present in these two labs from 9.30 to 15.00. If you should meet any of them straying off the narrow path, please help them back to the labs at the 4th floor!

In the aftermath of the HSE-Day

I would like to thank everybody for their pleasant company and valuable contributions and suggestions during the HSE event yesterday! Special thanks go to Kristin, Lisbeth and Reidun for taking part in planning the event, and to Svein for his many good suggestions for group tasks!


Each and one of us will be going on and off vacation at different dates during the next one-and-a-half months. Hope that you all get a nice and well-deserved summer vacation, with even more of the lovely sun we had on the pier and better-looking crab than we saw at IMR.

The role of UiB in NORA

As mentioned at TCLS today, there is a full-day seminar on the role of UiB in NORA, the Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium tomorrow Friday June 21, taking place in the Large auditorium, 2nd floor Datablokken, Høyteknologisenteret.

10:00 Welcome and background for the meetingPinar Heggernes, Dept. head of informatics, and chair of the board of NORA 

10:15 Presentation of NORA, with questions and discussion: Klas Pettersen, director of NORA 

10:45-12:00 and 13:00:14:00: Presentation of AI and ML related research at UiB

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