“Initially, the Dutch KNCV was going to organize a joint conference on polymers with the Belgian BPG that was purely academic in nature. However, due to scheduling problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we have joined forces with Brightlands and Rolduc since they are more industry-driven. This has resulted in a conference that will feature both academic presentations and industrial input, involving participants from the Netherlands, Belgium and even beyond our borders.”
Katrien Bernaerts is an associate professor at Maastricht University and the secretary of the KNCV Macromolecular Division, but is now also involved in the organization of the Brightlands Polymer Days which will be held in Veldhoven from November 7 to 9. Katrien is the Chair of the Scientific Programme Committee: “The Scientific Programme Committee reviews abstracts and is responsible for the scientific program.”
How are abstracts evaluated for the Brightlands Polymer Days?
“We have four themes and will review how well the abstracts address these: mobility, energy, health and circularity. All of the abstracts have now been submitted and distributed to the judges by topic. They’re in the process of assessing them now, and we will hold a consensus meeting at the end of August. In addition to presentations, there will also be posters, depending on the abstract’s ranking.”
“The focus of the conference is scientific, and based on the abstracts we’ve received, we will have over 80% academic speakers, and the plenary academic speakers will also have twice as much time for their presentations. We are still reviewing how much time each speaker will have, but quality will definitely take precedence over quantity. Awards will also be presented during the event, such as the Challa Polymer Award for the best PhD student, personally presented by Professor Challa, and the PTN Medema Award. There will also be prizes for the best posters and the best presentations.”
What is your role at this conference?
“I am the secretary of the KNCV (Royal Netherlands Chemical Society) Macromolecular Division, and will be representing this group at the event. This will be my first time joining in as part of the organization; I was still a PhD student at the last joint Dutch-Belgian conference that was held in Mol (Belgium) in 2004. It’s a real honor to have the chance to bring this collaboration back.”
“It’s a unique conference; the world of polymer congresses had been pretty fragmented. We now have a stronger presence, and are able to create connections both across borders and with the industry. A joint conference provides opportunities to establish new links between industry and science, but also inspiration, learning more about what goes on on ‘the other side’. I have even worked in the industry as a scientist, which makes it a little easier. However, if you don’t have this background, the conference can be a valuable bridge connecting the two.”