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THE BLAISE PASCAL MEDALS 2018

Eurasc Ceremony of Awards 2018 Pictures

Blaise Pascal Medal in Chemistry

Professor Avelino Corma


In recognition of this outstanding achievements in materials design and heterogeneous catalysis and for bridging the gap between fundamental science and industrial applications

Prof. Avelino Corma is a world leader in materials design and heterogeneous catalysis where his achievements have not only pioneered new research avenues but have a direct impact on industrial applications. His new concepts and their applications to a broad range of major chemical reactions have given rise to ca. 150 patents and have attracted the attention of numerous chemical companies; ten industrial processes are applied today worldwide, with important environmental and social benefits. For example, an industrial application based on his research on gold clusters and nanoparticles in solution and supported on well-defined nanoparticle supports with atom vacancies aiming at decreasing the sulphur content in natural gas is now used in more than 15 plants worldwide. He has also been a pioneer in the development of hierarchical micro-mesoporous materials, building well-controlled three-dimensional structures incorporating catalytically active sites, leading to materials and reaction selectivities close to those of enzymes.
Avelino Corma’s research has given rise to more than 1000 publications, and his numerous national and international awards clearly recognize him as a truly outstanding scientist, who has been impressively successful at combining excellence in fundamental science with the capacity to develop industrial applications resulting in a greener chemistry by saving energy and avoiding or eliminating residues.

* * Lecture * *

"Solid Catalysts by molecular design"

We will present concepts directing to prepare solid catalysts with well-defined active sites, going from hybrid organic-inorganic mesoporous materials to zeolites and to metals. We will show that besides the nature of the active sites, the presence of confined spaces introduces additional activity and selectivity’s to the catalysts.

The presence of dispersion forces, within the confined space, further stabilize the reaction transition state, decreasing the activation enthalpy for the reaction.
We will also show how to prepare supported single metal atoms and subnanometric metal clusters correlating catalysts behaviour with the electronic properties.

Finally, it will be presented how the knowledge acquired has allowed us to design and prepare catalysts that are now operating industrially.




Blaise Pascal Medal in Earth and Environmental Sciences

Professor Carlos Duarte


In recognition to his contributions to Oceanography and to address environmental problems

Prof. Carlos Duarte is a world-wide leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography and marine ecology. He is probably the most versatile aquatic ecologist of his generation: he works from the tropics to polar ecosystems, from macrophytes to microbes, from coastal systems to open ocean gyres using all type of approaches. His pioneering work on seagrasses and other vegetated systems eventually lead – in collaboration with different UN agencies - to the development of “blue carbon” strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation, which has provided a strong impetus to the conservation of vegetated coastal ecosystems adopted by hundreds of programs and projects around the world. Prof. Duarte received many awards to scientific excellence, and inspired hundreds of research programs, being author of 660 peer-reviewed papers and more than 60 books or book chapters. His research is characterized by independence, creativity, serendipity and interdisciplinary linking, as well as the capacity to organize and collaborate with large interdisciplinary teams.

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* * Lecture * *

"Hidden Forests: the role of vegetated coastal habitat in the Earth System"

Vegetated coastal habitats, including seagrass and macroalgal beds, mangrove forests and salt-marshes, form highly productive ecosystems, but their contribution to the global carbon budget remains overlooked and these forests remain "hidden" in representations of the global carbon budget. Despite being confined to a narrow belt around the shoreline of the world's oceans, where they cover less than 7 million Km2, vegetated coastal habitats support about 10% of the global marine net primary production, and generate a large organic carbon surplus, of about 40 % of their NPP, which is either buried in sediments within these habitats or exported away. Large, 10-fold uncertainties in the area covered by vegetated coastal habitats, along with variability about carbon flux estimates, result in a 10-fold bracket around the estimates of their contribution to organic carbon sequestration in sediments and the deep sea from 73 Tg C year-1 to 866 Tg C year-1, representing up to 1/3 of the biological CO2 removal by marine biota. Up to 1/2 of this carbon sequestration occurs in sink reservoirs (sediments or the deep sea) beyond these habitats. The organic carbon exported that does not reach depositional sites subsidizes the metabolism of heterotrophic organisms. In addition to their significant contribution to organic carbon production and sequestration, vegetated coastal habitats contribute as much to carbonate accumulation as coral reefs do. Whereas globally-relevant, the magnitude of global carbon fluxes supported by salt-marsh, mangrove, seagrass and macroalgal habitats is declining due to rapid habitat loss, contributing to loss of CO2 sequestration, storage capacity and carbon subsidies. Incorporating the carbon fluxes v egetated coastal habitats support into depictions of the carbon budget of the global ocean and its perturbations will improve current representations of the carbon budget of the global ocean.


Presentation (pdf file)

Blaise Pascal Medal in Engineering

Professor Emmanuel Gdoutos


In recognition of his outstanding and seminal contributions in Engineering Mechanics and, in particular, in Fracture Mechanics and Experimental Mechanics

Professor Emmanuel E. Gdoutos is an eminent and reference personality within the World Community of Engineering Sciences. He has tought in different important, Universities, both in Europe and US. His relevant and seminal studies on Experimental Mechanics and Fracture Mechanics are very well-known and have been published in famous text books. His career is characterized by innumerable recognitions and awards. He was the President of different major Scientific Societies and the organizer and chair of outstanding events. Professor Gdoutos has been the first Head of Engineering Division of EurASc.

* * Lecture *  *

"Failure Mechanisms of Sandwich Structure"

Sandwich structures consisting of strong and stiff facings and light weight cores offer improved stiffness and strength to weight ratios compared to monolithic materials. Under flexural loading the facings carry almost all of the bending, while the core takes the shear loading and helps to stabilize the facings. Facing materials include metals and fiber reinforced composites. The latter are being used in advanced applications due to the large strength-to-weight ratio. The core materials mainly include honeycombs, cellular foams and wood. In the present seminar the failure behavior of composite sandwich beams subjected to three- and four-point bending will be presented. The beams were made of unidirectional carbon/epoxy facings and various core materials including PVC closed-cell foams, a polyurethane foam and an aluminum honeycomb. Various failure modes including facing wrinkling, indentation failure and core failure were observed and compared with analytical predictions. It was established that the initiation, propagation and interaction of failure modes depend on the type of loading, constituent material properties and geometrical dimensions.


Presentation (pdf file)

Blaise Pascal Medal in Materials Science

Professor Paolo Samori


In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the development of functional nanomaterials and nanodevices exhibiting new electronic, optical and sensing capabilities

Professor Paolo Samorì is Distinguished Professor at the University of Strasbourg (France). He is also Director of the «Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires» (ISIS) and of the Nanochemistry Laboratory. His work opened new chemical frontiers at the nanoscale by exploiting the combination of sophisticated fabrication and characterization nanotools and the principles of supramolecular chemistry to develop structurally controlled functional nanomaterials and nanodevices capable of exhibiting a large variety of electronic, optical and sensing capabilities. His contributions led to the foundation of the transition from supramolecules to suprafunctions and to the development of new multifunctional nanomaterials for organic optoelectronics, sensing and energy applications. Prof. Samorì is Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and of the European Academy of Sciences. He was awarded numerous prestigious prizes including an ERC Starting Grant (2010), the CNRS Silver Medal (2012), the «Catalán-Sabatier» Prize and the «Grignard-Wittig » Lectureship (2017). He participated as Coordinator or Principal Investigator in several EU projects and training networks, such as the MSCA ITN «iSwitch» and the Graphene Flagship.


Blaise Pascal Medal in Mathematics

Professor Alice Guionnet


An influential probabilist and inspiring leader in the field of random matrices

Professor Alice Guionnet is an inspiring leader in the field of probability and random matrices. She has established surprizing links with various other fields of mathematics as spectral theory, operator algebra, free probability which lead her to several outstanding results. Her "single ring theorem" is a real masterpiece of analysis. But the most important contribution of Alice Guionnet might be a series of work where she founds the theory of "Matrix Models". She has received a number of prestigious invitations, showing her impressive impact beyond the probability theory. After being an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematician, and at the International Congress of Mathematical Physics, she was elected in 2017 at the french Academy of Sciences.

* * Lecture * *

"The world of Random Matrices"

Random matrices appeared at the beginning of the 20th century in the work of Wishart to analyze large arrays of data. Since then, they flourished in many different fields of mathematics, computer science or physics. We will review some of their uses.


Presentation (pdf file)

Blaise Pascal Medal in Physics

Professor Peter Hänggi


In recognition of his pioneering and lasting contributions on the beneficial role of fluctuations in statistical mechanics in and away from thermal equilibrium

Professor Peter Hänggi presents a most visible flagship that changed our perception of noise. He has developed the theoretical tools to study classical and quantum Stochastic Resonance by which ambient noise is used to boost weak signals/information rather than hampering those. He also is the founder of the area of "Brownian motors", i.e. Brownian noise fueled devices, which in combination with non-equilibrium forces shuttle, separate and direct cargo on micro- and nanoscales. In addition, he is well known for his outstanding pivotal developments to relativistic thermodynamics and to the foundations of quantum thermodynamics. His oeuvre is extremely broad (over 600 publications), which is acknowledged internationally via his election to several scientific academies, being recipient of several prizes and him holding 10 doctor honoris causa degrees, among scores of other prestigious accolades.

* * Lecture * *

"The ring of Brownian motion: The good, the bad and some simply silly"

Since the turn of the 20-th century Brownian noise has continuously disclosed a rich variety of phenomena in and around physics. The understanding of this jittering motion of suspended microscopic particles has undoubtedly helped to reinforce and substantiate those pillars on which the basic modern physical theories are resting: Its formal description provided the key to great achievements in statistical mechanics, the foundations of quantum mechanics and also astrophysical phenomena, to name but a few. -- Brownian motion determines the rate-limiting step in most transport phenomena via escape events that help to overcome obstructing bottlenecks, does trigger firing events of neurons and in ion channels or, more generally, induces oscillatory dynamics in excitable media. Recent progress of Brownian motion theory involves (i) the description of relativistic Brownian motion and its impact for relativistic thermodynamics, or (ii) its role for fluctuation theorems and symmetry relations that constitute the pivot of those recent developments for nonequilibrium thermodynamics beyond the linear response regime.

Although noise commonly is hold as an enemy of order, it in fact also can be of constructive influence. The phenomena of Stochastic Resonance and Brownian motors present two such archetypes wherein random Brownian dynamics together with unbiased nonequilibrium forces beneficially cooperate in enhancing detection and/or in facilitating directed transmission of information. The applications range from innovative information processing devices in physics, chemistry, and in physical biology to new hardware for medical rehabilitation. Particularly, those additional non-equilibrium disturbances enable the rectification of haphazard Brownian noise so that quantum and classical objects can be directed along on a priori designed routes (i.e. Brownian motors). Despite its thrilling manifold successes Brownian motion is, nonetheless, not the ''Theory of Everything'', as is revealed by some more doubtful applications. We conclude with an outlook of future prospects and unsolved issues.


Presentation (pdf file)