The conference, “Exploring Reactivity with Spectroscopy” (ExpReS 2021), which was organised by students of the IMPRS-RECHARGE program, was held in an online format from May 19th-21st. The conference brought together nearly 100 registered participants from 12 countries all over the world with a common interest in various spectroscopy techniques. The conference enabled the participants to hear lectures about state-of-the-art techniques, learn practical aspects and lively discuss and exchange about the different facets of spectroscopies and their use in a broad range of fields (e.g. heterogeneous/homogeneous/bio catalysis, material science or macromolecules). The symposium made clear, that spectroscopy is an essential tool to discover otherwise hidden phenomena and structure reactivity relationships and therefore served as a great incentive to further study these important methods.
Over the course of the three days, the symposium included keynote lectures by Clare Grey (University of Cambridge), Lutz Gade (University of Heidelberg), Atsushi Urakawa (Delft University of Technology) and Serena DeBeer (MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion). The scientific program also included 4 invited talks by academic and industrial researchers and 8 contributed talks by participants.
To convey the practical aspects of three essential spectroscopical techniques, namely EPR, X-Ray and Mössbauer spectroscopy, three group leaders of the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion recorded a virtual lab tour, in which they explained the whole procedure of a measurement from preparing the sample, acquiring the data to analysing the final spectra. This detailed information was highly appreciated by the participants and prepared them for their own, independent work.
To foster interaction between the participants and lecturers despite the usually passive atmosphere in an online environment, the organisers prepared a digital twin of the conference hall. A platform mimics the engaging atmosphere of a real conference by enabling fast face-to-face video calls in groups or between two persons, while exploring the conference area with a virtual avatar. The tool was well adopted by the participants and lecturers. Especially in the two poster sessions, with a total of 32 contributions, lively discussions developed that could be continued long after the official end of the sessions.
The conference ended with the awarding three poster prices to Arnab Ghatak and Paramita Saha (both Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kalkutta) and Jian Sun (University Göttingen) as well as a price for the best contributed talk to Conrad Szczuka (FZ Jülich).
The students of IMPRS-RECHARGE are very thankful for the regarding experience to organise the symposium and had a great time to bond virtually with all the participants. Overall, the event was a humongous success and very well received by the participants and speakers.