NISM Newsletter - December 2020

3, December 2020

by Francesca Cecchet

The year 2020 is almost at the end, and we’ll remember it as the year of the health crisis, which suddenly impacted our daily lives, and then our professional life. One of the keywords of 2020 has been "remote". We quickly adapted to new working tools, in order to preserve and continue as much as possible our scientific activities, among others. Hence, we faced the need to organize our annual meeting online. While this experience taught us to be flexible, and to create alternatives to our habits, it also reminded us that our research work is nourished and enriched by the many daily contacts with our colleagues, students, collaborators. The next year promises to be uncertain, and NISM will have to continue to evolve, at least in part, remotely. We must stay optimistic, and keep stimulating our professional lives by using at best and as much as possible any new available tool. Meetings, seminars, thematic conferences: stay active and innovative! NISM will help and support your original and new inputs in that concern!

In 2021, other challenges open up: optimizing our governance rules, developing new instruments triggering collaborations, giving more voice and weight to young NISM researchers,... and with this goal, the edito of the next newsletter will be written by a NISM PhD student!

Looking forward in 2021, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



The first NISM Activity Report is ready

The NISM activity report will be submitted to the ADRE (Research Administration) of UNamur at the end of 2020.

The activity report deals with highlighting the new actions, opportunities, facilities and achievements that the creation of the institute provided to the NISM members and their research outputs, and establishes how this new research support promoted different internal and external dynamics of the NISM research activities. The first activity report covers the first three years since the birth of NISM, from November 2017 to December 2020. It will be submitted to three external reviewers, who will give their evaluation of the past actions and achievements, and their recommendations for future improvements.

NISM Annual Meeting 2020

The NISM annual meeting 2020 took place on November 22nd as an online conference, with the lectures of two invited speakers, and video capsule presentations young NISM researchers. If it was expected to take place in a conference hall in the city center, however the healthcare restrictions decided at the end of October by the government, due to Covid-19 pandemic, did not allow a presence meeting. The NISM board, helped by the IT team of UNamur and by all the contributors, rapidly found out an alternative format and converted the full conference in an online event. The NISM president and the invited lecturers held their talks on Teams in Live. The invited talks were given by Prof. Jean-Marie RAQUEZ from UMons, with a paper entitled “Design of bioactive composite materials made of bioresorbable poly(L,Llactide): from extrusion to plasma treatments”, and by Prof. Daniel ESCUDERO from KULeuven, whose contribution was entitled “Quantitative determinations of photochemistry: are we there yet?”. All the other contributors submitted their seminars as video capsules lasting five minutes, which were posted on the Medias UNamur platform. A dedicated video channel was created for this event. The participants could interact with the authors via a Q&A dedicated chat for each video capsule. The three best capsules have been awarded of the “Prize of the best capsule presentation of the annual NISM meeting 2020”. Twenty-three videos were submitted. The winners were selected by a jury composed of the board members and the two invited lecturers. The laureates were (without classification): Charlotte BOUQUIAUX, Tanguy COLLEUX-BANSE, and Gaetano RICCI.

Despite the last-minute change of format of this annual meeting, all NISM participants and especially the contributors, demonstrated a remarkable flexibility, and thanks to all of them, this particular edition of the NISM annual meeting succeeded.

More information (in French) are available on the following link:

Annual Meeting 2020: survey and rates

A survey related to the NISM Annual Day 2020 has been organized. 17 members have participated to the survey. The average rate of satisfaction amounted to 6.8/10. Among the remarks, the participants appreciated the use of video capsules instead of full talks, whilst they pointed the delay and some misunderstanding in the communication of the new format of the annual meeting. The rates and comments will be taken into consideration to improve the next editions.

The rates as answers to the asked questions were as follows:

- Did you find suitable the fact that we have maintained the two invited talks in a version of 30 minutes each?

Yes: 100%, No: 0%

- In the context of this online edition of the NISM meeting due to COVID crisis, rate the choice of a video capsule format instead of full-length talks of contributors:

Average rate: 6.4

- Did you find the length of the video capsules adequate?

Average rate: 7.0

- Did you find the Q&A chats useful to exchange with the authors?

Average rate: 6.5

- Did you find the competition for the best three video capsule a stimulating challenge?

Average rate: 7.1

- Globally, how would you rate the NISM Meeting Day 2020?

Average rate: 7.2

For NISM members: 2021 starts with FNRS grants

The results of the “FRIA”, “FRESH”, “MIS”, “CDR” and “PDR” 2020 calls of the FNRS have been communicated. More than 25 projects of scientists and academics from UNamur are selected, and among them 6 projects from NISM.

Prof. Yoann OLIVIER received one the 19 Scientific Impulsion Mandates (MIS) granted by the FNRS this year. The objective of the MIS instrument is to support young permanent researchers on the way to grow their research group in an emerging field. The research project “IMAGINE” of Yoann deals with the detailed understanding, at the microscopic scale, of the electronic processes responsible for spin mixing in pi-conjugated materials using computational chemistry. This research project is expected to lead to the design of a new generation of materials for Organic Light-Emitting Diodes with improved efficiencies.

Six FRIA doctoral scholarships (Fund for Research Training in Industry and Agriculture) were awarded to UNamur, among them three were granted to NISM researchers:

Amélie MAERTENS (promoter Carmela Aprile), Virgile NEYMAN (promoter Catherine Michaux, in co-supervision with Frédéric Francis from ULiège), and         Gaetano RICCI (promoter Yoann Olivier).

And last but not least, two "PDR" projects were granted to NISM professors Carmela APRILE and Guillaume BERIONNI.

Congratulations to all of them!

You can find all FNRS call results in the following link:

Publications and awards

Thieme Chemistry Journal Awardees

The editorial board of Synlett, Synthesis and Synfacts has chosen Prof. Guillaume BERIONNI as one of the "Thieme Chemistry Journal Awardees". In this category, the awarded individuals are defined as promising young professors at the beginning of their career. The official awarding document will be received in early 2021.


PhDs and post-docs in NISM

Welcome back to Dr. Aurélien CHARDON

Dr. Aurélien Chardon first joined the University of Namur and the NISM institute in 2018 for a postdoctoral research work under the supervision of Prof. G. Berionni (Laboratory of reactivity and catalysis, chemistry department).

He recently obtained a prestigious position of "Chargé de recherche" from the FNRS to perform a three-year (2021-2023) high-level postdoctoral research program on "Borylated carbanions as new dipoles and Lewis pairs for small molecules activation".

This research project will be performed in the organic chemistry division (chemistry department, UNamur), in collaboration with the Laboratory of reactivity and catalysis, several NISM research groups and the laboratory of Prof. R. Robiette (UCLouvain).
Beyond his research work, Dr. Aurélien Chardon is also teaching and supervising several master and PhD students. He is working in close collaboration with two FRIA PhD students, Damien Mahaut, working on the "Hydrogenation of amides and carbon dioxide mediated by frustrated Lewis pairs", and Arnaud Osi, working on "New Pyramidalized Boron Lewis Acids For C-C and C-N Coupling via C-F activation". We wish them a lot of success and fruitful collaborations in the institute and the chemistry department.

Presentation card: Tanguy COLLEU-BANSE

THi, my name is Tanguy Colleu-Banse. I am working with the SURFASCOPE project under the supervision of Luc Henrard.

My work aims to better understand the theoretical aspect surrounding Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy.

I mainly work with the code DDSCAT to investigate plasmonic device behavior and Gaussian-16 to calculate the impact of an inhomogeneous electric field on the Raman spectra of a molecule.


Presentation card: Arnaud OSI

My name is Arnaud Osi, I am a PhD. student working in the group of Prof. G. Berionni.

I started my PhD in 2019 after obtention of a FRIA grant.

I work on the design of Lewis acids and superacids derived from 9-boratriptycene and I study the unknown reactivity of these new compounds for the activation of unreactive bonds.


 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

The NISM board wishes a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all NISM members, colleagues, friends and partners reading this newsletter! Looking forward to see you in 2021!


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