Frontiers in chemistry: armchemfront 2018 opens new horizons to innovation

On October 21, 2018, Groningen University (Netherlands) in partnership with Yerevan State University and with the support of the European Union Delegation in Armenia launched a massive 5scientific international conference (Frontiers in Chemistry – ArmChemFront2018) on a variety of topics in the field of chemistry, including Systemic transformations, Analytical chemistry, Biochemistry, materials chemistry, industrial chemistry, etc.. The outstanding program brought together world-renowned speakers, including two Nobel Prize Laureates and the EU’s Horizon2020 participants, who shared the overviews of recent scientific developments throughout the 5-day conference. Apart from renowned plenary and keynote speakers, who presented the overview of recent developments, the program was completed  by contributed lectures  and poster presentations, more than one hundred scientists from all over the world participated in the conference in Ani Plaza, Yerevan.

The main goal of the symposium was to provide Armenian scientists, especially the younger generation, with the opportunity to be acquainted with the best practices in the field using innovative methods and quality techniques in their work. One of the core messages of the conference was the need to re-energize chemical research in the Republic of Armenia, tailored to the specific requirements and conditions of our country and in line with the scientific achievements of the world.

The conference kicked off with the welcoming speech by Syuzanna Harutyunyan, Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen and the main Coordinator of ArmChemFront 2018. Professor Harutyunyan emphasized that the main goals of the conference focused on empowering Armenian scientists, in particular the young generation, connecting them with scientists from all over the world. She said that the conference could become a positive impetus to chemical research in Armenia. “International conferences play an important role in scientific research, since they serve as a unique platform for the researchers to present their scientific achievements and results, as well as to expand their network of cooperation”.

During the opening ceremony, the EU Ambassador Piotr Świtalski addressed the conference audience stating: “Armenia needs more participation in international research and innovation programs. Science, research and development (R&D), technology and innovation are key for improving competitiveness, economic growth and for creating jobs. European Union is committed to stronger Armenia and ready to bring people together around the practice and enjoyment of learning and innovating to showcase the link between education, learning and employment as well as finding solutions in a community”.

Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, also delivered his welcoming remarks: “The economic difficulties accompanying the historical course of restoration of the independence at the end of the 20th century, created certain natural obstacles for the preservation and further development of scientific and industrial capacities of the sphere. Nowadays, under the new realities in Armenia, we do need modern, up-to-date solutions in line with the current requirements in order to restore and upgrade the formerly existing capacities of chemistry.”

The Head of the RA Academy of Science, Radik Martirosyan and the Chair of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacognosy Institute at Yerevan State University, Professor Ashot Saghyan welcomed the international and local participants. He emphasized the importance of strengthening science and encouraged everyone to actively participate and establish solid scientific networks with international colleagues to enhance research in Armenia.

It is worth reminding that the University of Groningen organized the first International Chemistry Conference ArmChemFront in Yerevan back in 2013.

Ben Faringa, Nobel Prize winner from the University of Groningen, said he is in love with Armenia: “This is my second visit to Armenia. We were here 5 years ago, that was my first time when we organized conference. I fell in love with the country. It is so beautiful. People are so friendly. And the history, and the young people: I enjoyed it. The main goal of organizing such a conference in Armenia is to stimulate the Chemistry in this country, especially the young people, because Chemistry is extremely important; think about pharmaceuticals, think about materials, electric cars of the future, computers, all the materials, so here we had speakers from all over the world discussing latest research and discoveries in Chemistry”.

Speaking of the science and technology of future, as well as its impact on civil society development, Faringa commented: “Of course, you should realize that if we want to creates sustainable society in the future: better products, less energy, alternative ways to make things, new computers, new pharmaceuticals for health, we have to train the young students to look forward. How are we going to do this? New industries. Because they will develop new industries for your country in the future. Therefore, we had young talents discussing here with the top scientists from all over the world so that they can know what other real new things that will happen. We also sponsor them to go abroad, to get training in institutes abroad, and to broaden their horizon. This is very important for the future”.

“The Best Talent” scholarship was supported by Philip Morris R&D Centre in Armenia, as part of ecosystem building initiatives, implemented in partnership with EIF. The international panel of scientists selected the brightest Armenian talent, based on their Poster presentations. “The Best Talent” scholarship was awarded to Liana Hayryan, junior researcher, RA National Academy of Science. She has not yet selected the destination of her 3-month internship. At the same time, she thinks this is a great opportunity for her to develop the professional skills.

Liana shared with us main activities of the scientific group she is engaged in:

Our scientific group is engaged in synthesis of non-protein amino acids. It is well known that the synthesis of such amino acids is very important, because they are used in pharmaceutical industry. It is real success to have the ability to obtain these amino acids in optically pure condition”.

When asked about the “Frontiers in Chemistry 2018”, Liana said: “It is a great honour to participate in such conference. The scholoarship was a big surprise for me. This is a very good opportunity especially because I can choose the country, the university and the research group to conduct my internship with”.

The participation in “Frontiers in Chemistry 2018” is only one of the initiatives of Philip Morris R&D Center in Armenia. There are many other activities within contribution to the development of RA educational infrastructure.

Mariam Davtyan, Ecosystem development project manager from Philip Morris Armenia, provided details on main activities of R&D center in Armenia: “inDesign of Data science and System engineering Masters Desgree Program, scholarships for masters’ students, PhD support program for young scientists who study engineering, modeling, mathematics, physics, Faculty grants targeting scientific research groups working inside universities and institutes, and, of course, participation in such events and conferences. We want young Armenian scientists to know that the science is not only the future of the whole world, but that they have their own future in science in Armenia”.