Today, Sondre Hilmar Hopen Eliasson successfully defended his PhD thesis Mechanistic insight for improved catalytic conversion of fatty acids to linear alpha-olefins. This is his contribution to the ongoing world-wide effort of developing chemical transformations for molecular resources of biological origin into modern commodity and platform chemicals. Sondre was first exposed to catalysis research in 2010 as part of the Nano100 experience, where he worked with Karl Törnroos to determine the structure of a Ru-based metathesis catalyst. After completing an MSc in nanoscience at the physics department he returned to chemistry and the Jensen laboratory, and today completed the circle by becoming Philosophiae Doctor. Congratulations!
Last Friday, Solmaz Ghoreishi successfully defended her PhD thesis Large-scale conversion of lignin to liquid through formic acid assisted solvolysis in aqueous and ethanolic reaction media: comparison of yields and product compositions. Solmaz has made signficant contributions to upscaling of the lignin-to-liquid process from small- to large-labscale (5L) reactors, which is an important step toward making it a viable industrial option. Both Solmaz and the two opponents did very well, making the disputation ceremony an interesting and enjoyable event for those present. Congratulations!
Yesterday’s chemistry pot-luck Christmas party was great fun and a big success, clearly matching previous year’s events and even surpassing those in attendance! A clever and well-received novelty was to precede the party by an hour of sampling of seasonal products from ABC (the Alchemy/Academic Brewing Company) – thanks guys! Huge thanks are obviously due to Bengt Erik and his crew of organic synthetic chemists: Eirin, Frida, Louise, Beate, Nina, Markus, and Zeeshan. They made such a big effort to the benefit of all of us attending the party and, by facilitating a shared and joyous evening and thus adding to the working environment; to everybody at the department. The variety of tasty dishes was only met by the variety in challenges presented by Quizmaster Bjørn – the photo of the winning team was shot before the virtual nature of the prize was revealed.
The insect gray silverfish (or long-tailed silverfish, in Norwegian: skjeggkre) should now be regarded as an established part of the population at the first and third floors, and by induction, also at the second floor of Realfagsbygget. While completely harmless, this insect multiplies rapidly and it is very difficult to get rid of once you get it into your house. It is therefore recommendable to take some simple precautions. When unpacking goods of any kind in your office or lab, please bring the paper or carton wrapping down to the basement right away. Do not use the paper bin in the mail room. Moreover, clear your floor space from unnecessary clutter, making the whole floor accessible to the cleaning personnel. Do not leave backpacks or bags at your office floor (escpecially over night!) and avoid transporting good hiding places (carton boxes etc) between home and UiB. For more information, see here.
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.
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).
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!
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.
Last Thursday the MN faculty celebrated the BSc and MSc candidates that are graduating this spring. Both events offered insightful speeches and beautiful trumpet music (including Triumphal March from Aida!)
The BSc ceremony was a first, and it was great to welcome 12 BSc candidates from chemistry on stage — Good job! Next year all programs will surely have a strong presence.
The University Aula was completely crammed during the MSc ceremony. In only few years this event has become a must for both graduates and their guests. It makes a very nice frame around the completion of a Master’s education in Science!