Busy times for the Scientific Program Committee of IUPAC | CHAINS 2023 as they are putting together an exciting program covering as many aspects of chemistry as possible. Co-chairs Petra de Jongh and Hermen Overkleeft provide a first impression of what to expect.    

With submissions closed for almost all elements of the program, the challenge of complete the huge puzzle that will result in a full conference program is underway. It is up to the Scientific Program Committee of IUPAC |CHAINS 2023, consisting of Dutch and international scientists to ensure that the public is presented with a varied program full of inspiring science. The program will be announced in the course of April, but C2W | Mens & Molecule was granted a preview by Petra de Jongh (Utrecht University) and Hermen Overkleeft (Leiden University), co-chairs of the Scientific Program Committee.  

Is it difficult to put together a good program?  

De Jongh: ‘It is not really difficult, but it is definitely a challenge and above all a fantastic honor to organize this international conference. I am very happy that we have enthusiastic committees supporting, and that so many chemists have contributed ideas for the program by submitting abstracts and focus sessions. This allows us to cover many current, relevant topics.’  

Overkleeft: ‘I completely agree, the sheer number of submissions enable us to show the full spectrum of chemistry. And the topics are even broader compared to the annual CHAINS conference, as there will be even more social and societal issues being covered. I am also pleased that the young chemists are so actively involved with their own Young Program.’   

Are you pleased with the program so far?  

Overkleeft: ‘Definitely! For example, I am very happy with the plenary speakers, it is a nice international mix of top scientists covering the full breadth of chemistry. I am very curious to learn what they will tell us all.’  

De Jongh: ‘It is quite unique for the Netherlands to have such a varied group of top speakers together; you don’t meet these people every day. And it is nice that many speakers make the connection between fundamental research and application. Furthermore, I think it is very encouraging that the relevant, topical issues in society, such as the energy transition and the materials transition we are facing, are also reflected in the congress program. Chemistry is crucial, and this is increasingly being recognized.’  

What were your priorities when putting together the program?  

De Jongh: ‘Our main aim was to show the full breadth of chemistry, and we selected the themes accordingly. And we also wanted to give scientists in the field the opportunity to show what the important developments are and where their interest lies. We don’t control that top-down, but we do see certain topics coming back multiple times in the sessions and abstracts that are submitted.’  

Overkleeft: ‘What I noticed is that there are many topics that actually fit within different themes. We try to facilitate that exchange also from an organizational point of view, so that the different theme committees know how to find each other and the interdisciplinary nature of some topics becomes clearly visible.’  

What are you personally looking forward to the most?  

Overkleeft: ‘I would rather not mention any names, because everyone we invite has a valuable contribution to the conference. However, I am of course curious about the developments in my own field, and I also look forward to the poster sessions. Walking among the poster boards is a great way to meet interesting people. And I am also curious about the activities of the Young Program, who, for example, want to organize “Meet & Greet” opportunities with plenary speakers.’  

De Jongh: ‘I really hope we can put together an interesting program for all the young researchers who will have to make a difference on these topics in the future. I like the fact that we can bring them into contact with the top researchers in the various fields, and I hope they will be inspired by these meetings.’   

Curious about the program? Check out www.iupac2023.org/program for the latest updates!   


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In August 2023, chemists from all over the world will come together in The Hague during IUPAC | CHAINS 2023. The place to catch up with friends and (former) colleagues, or to finally meet that one chemist. Who would you like to meet during IUPAC | CHAINS 2023? Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, tag the person you would like to speak to, and win a fun prize!  


Early bird rate until 1 June  

Register before 1 June via www.iupac2023.org/registration and take full benefit of the early bird discount fee. For (student)-members of KNCV and (PhD)-students at a Dutch university or university of applied sciences, additional discounts apply. Check the website for more information.