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Broadly speaking, the Catalan Society of Chemistry (SQC) dates back to the late 1930s. At the time, industrial members of the Societat de Química de Catalunya, together with scientists from the areas of chemistry, physics, meteorology, engineering and mathematics, agreed to set up the Catalan Society of Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences (SCCFQM) as a subsidiary body of the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC). The IEC – the Catalan academia – was founded in 1907 and received international recognition as a member of the Union Académique Internationale in 1923. The new SCCFQM was approved by the IEC in 1931 and formally opened in January 1932 under the presidency of Josep Estadella. Chemistry constituted one of the areas of the SCCFQM; the first president of this section was Ramon Peypoch.
The SCCFQM evolved in a conventional manner up to the time of the Spanish Civil War. The victory of Franco’s troops and the consequences it would entail for Catalan culture and institutions marked a period of more than 30 years in which our Society – and indeed the IEC – endeavoured to persist under highly precarious conditions. Figures like Heribert Barrera and Enric Casassas played a significant role in keeping the chemistry area afloat over the course of those years. In 1976, following the fall of the dictatorship whereupon the IEC could finally secure official recognition, the SCCFQM resumed its scientific course. From that moment on, activities characteristic of a scientific society (organisation of lectures and conferences, publications, granting of awards, etc.) were becoming ever more regular and the number of fellows joining the society began to grow significantly.
After a short time, the significant number of activities organised by the various areas of the SCCFQM led its Board to contemplate the suitability of segregating those sections in order to transform each one into a subsidiary society of the IEC. From a formal standpoint, the Catalan Society of Chemistry saw the light of day thanks to the decision adopted by the SCCFQM in December 1982 when the official petition for such a structure was lodged to the IEC. At the time, the chemistry area was led by Carles Solà. Ultimately in October 1986, in his capacity as president of the SCCFQM, Joaquim Sales notified all fellows of the IEC’s decision to agree to set up the four new subsidiary societies (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Engineering). A temporary committee led by Miquel Àngel Pericàs directed the SCQ until its first president, Josep Maria Ribó, was elected. The SCQ bylaws were approved by the General Assembly in February 1991 and were ratified by the IEC two months later. These bylaws allowed the SCQ president to take part in the meetings of the IEC science area, and indeed in the general meetings of the IEC; therefore, 1991 may be viewed as the date when the SCQ received formal recognition as a subsidiary society of the IEC. Josep M. Ribó presided over the SCQ until 1995 when Pilar Gonzàlez took up the baton until 2002, followed by Àngel Messeguer until 2008 and Romà Tauler until 2013. Today, the capacity of president is held by Carles Bo.
It is widely acknowledged that during the presidency of Pilar Gonzàlez the SCQ witnessed a substantial increase in the number of fellows that joined and the activities organised. Among these activities, it is particularly worth mentioning the Conference of Young Researchers from the Catalan Countries, a symposium where graduate and postdoctoral fellows undertook to present their research results. This event, which takes place every two years, has been organised in most Catalan universities, as well as in Valencia, Palma and Perpignan.
Beyond the growing prestige and recognition of the SCQ in the Catalan sphere, it is unquestionable that such recognition intended to transcend these borders. The fact that Catalonia is a nation without a state means that it is impossible for the SCQ to become a member of the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) since it only accepts countries as members. However, at European level, initial attempts by the SCQ to join the Federation of European Chemical Societies date from 1994. Despite endeavours to present an appealing application, the SCQ failed to receive an affirmative response due to the lack of support from representatives of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry (RSEQ). Fortunately, the process of reorganising the association of European chemistry societies by setting up EuCheMS – which culminated in 2006 – brought about positive effects on the international recognition of our society. The SCQ was invited to the EuCheMS General Assembly held in Moscow in October 2006. The SCQ president, Àngel Messeguer, was also invited to take part in the meeting of the EuCheMS Executive Committee in Brussels in April 2007. The SCQ’s formal application to become a full member of EuCheMS was submitted and the Executive Committee decided to recommend the admission of our society. This admission was officially granted in the EuCheMS General Assembly held in Frankfurt in October 2007.
At present, the SCQ has over 800 fellows including chemistry professionals from the fields of academia, research institutes, chemical industry and secondary education. Some of our members actively cooperate with specialised EuCheMS divisions (education, environment, energy, etc.) and others also take part in the organisation of various EuCheMS international conferences and symposia. Periodic publications, such as the SCQ journal Revista de la Societat Catalana de Química or EduQ (addressed specifically to high school students), as well as other more specialised journals like Clàssics de la Química, complement the scientific activities of our society. Activities such as the aforementioned Conference of Young Researchers, the Fèlix Serratosa and Enric Casassas Lectures, the various workshops focussed on secondary education, the annual Nobel Prize in Chemistry where each year’s PhD graduates receive a diploma, or diverse scientific activities that are organised in Catalan universities are just some examples of the vibrancy of our society. Indeed, the SCQ is one of the most active subsidiary entities of the IEC and it is also one of the bodies that has achieved the greatest European renown.