MY THREE MENTORS
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
― Isaac Newton, The Correspondence Of Isaac Newton
Everyone has met in life some special people who inspire us to be the best in our careers, in our work. And success is something that does not occur unless you are supported by someone else. During our infancy, our parents are responsible of our success in the school and our basic education (manners, moral values, ethics, etc). When we grow up, we search for that figure in some of our professors. We have, for instance, our academic tutor who is always couching us, motivating us and helps to solve some of our problems; ultimately, he/she accompanies us during our formation for a professional life. I had this figure in two professors who also became my best friends: Ch.E. Jorge Rafael Hernández-Montesinos (1961-2014 rip, dear friend) and Q.F.B. Heliodoro Canseco-Pérez (1933-), whom I dedicate this Prize.
However, when you continue to study and get a degree in a specialized field, the figure of your supervisor of thesis pops up. I have written about the importance, not only having good relationship during your university studies but, to keep that relationship during all your life open and in constant communication in a previous blog entry. And there are more people coming to your life each time you work in a different project and get involved in more activities specially when traveling from a place to another. You admire professors and partners who, through their work, they demonstrate passion and lot of energy to contribute to put a penny to fill the piggy with their actions every day; it is contagious. Some of them become your mentors, your ‘fairly odd parents’ I heard in Mexico referring to godparents that are your spine when navigating through the sea of your working life.
I know some people has suffered a lot and made him-/herself from the beginning of his/her career. But, in my case, I have three special persons in my life who have contributed a lot in my career. The three of them are my mentors. Without their continuous support, this Prize would have delayed for at least 15-18 years. In Mexico, we have the National Council of Science and Technology (abbreviated as CONACyT in spanish), founded in 1970, which is the entity in charge of the promotion of scientific and technological activities, setting government policies for these matters, and granting scholarships for postgraduate studies. It is the equivalent in US’s National Science Foundation and Spain the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN). In Mexico, to be a Professor in an University or Research Center gives you a partial salary because it is complemented with another one assigned according to your ‘level of researcher’. Mexican government created the System of National Researchers (abbreviated SNI in spanish) which is regulated by CONACyT. CONACyT has five levels to classify a researcher according to many factors to evaluate I’m not discussing here in detail (among them: number of publications in high prestigious international journals, number of cites to your works, number of students that have been graduated under your supervision, etc): 1) Candidate to SNI (which means you are potentially a researcher according to Mexican standards), 2) SNI Level 1 (for which a major percentage of junior researchers belongs to; its refers to researchers who are known just locally, no need to have graduated PhD students and usually is more prone to hold assistant professors in this level -just my opinion-), 3) SNI Level 2 (for those researchers who have become independent and have an impact at a national level; it is a tough level to get specially if you don’t have enough resources. Not only associate but full professors are located here. All of them, very respected ones), 4) SNI Level 3 (for those researchers who have an impact at an international level contributing to science from Mexico, with a large amount of scientific production and many other indicators of quality) and 5) SNI Emeritus (which stands for ‘emeritus researcher’ for those who have been as SNI Level 3 for at least 15 years and it is a lifetime award).
From 2022, I was recognized as a SNI Level 3 researcher. But all of this is thanks to my three mentors. As a manner of tribute, I want to express and save here for as long as internet be, and honor them, my complete gratitude for all the (HUGE) support during this time and the rest we will be collaborating with their amazing projects and Chemistry. Thank you so much Miquel and Holger, you have won an SNI Level 3 in Mexico! And also for you Gabriel, this is your second SNI Level 3 in your career. I owe the three of you a lot! You have created this professional who has founded the Private Detective Agency of Molecules.
The three mentors: Prof. Dr. Miquel Solà i Puig (left), Prof. Dr. Holger Braunschweig (center), Prof. Dr. José Gabriel Merino Hernández (right)
Miquel Solà (1964) obtained his PhD at the UAB in 1991 with academic honours. His doctoral research under the supervision of Profs. Juan Bertran and Agustí Lledós was awarded with the Saint Albert Prize. After several months in a consultant private company, in 1993 he moved to the University of Girona (UdG) as assistant researcher. In 1994 he did postdoctoral research in Amsterdam with Prof. Evert Jan Baerends and in 1995 in Calgary with Prof. Tom Ziegler. He was appointed assistant professor of the UdG in 1997. In 2001, he got the Distinction for the Promotion of University Research (young scientist category). Since 2003, he holds a permanent position as full professor in the UdG. He was awarded with the ICREA Academia Prize two times, in 2009 and 2014. In 2013 he got the Physical Chemistry prize awarded by the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry. He is coauthor of about 300 scientific papers and has supervised 13 doctoral Theses. He serves in the Editorial Board of Theor. Chem. Acc. and Sci. Rep. journals. At the UdG, he has served as director of the Institute of Computational Chemistry and Catalysis (2004-07), director of the Department of Chemistry (2007-10), and director of the School of Doctoral Studies (2010-14).
Holger Braunschweig studied chemistry and began his independent research career at RWTH Aachen, where he obtained his Ph.D. degree and Habilitation with Prof. P. Paetzold. He also performed postdoctoral research with Prof. Michael Lappert, FRS, at the University of Sussex and held a position as Reader at Imperial College, London. He is now Chair and Head of Inorganic Chemistry at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, where is also a member of the Senate and Founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Chemistry & Catalysis with Boron (ICB).
Gabriel Merino was born in Puebla (México) in 1975. He received his PhD from Cinvestav in 2003 under the supervision of Prof. Alberto Vela. After a two-year period as Postdoctoral Associate at Technische Universitt Dresden (Prof. Gotthard Seifert and Prof. Thomas Heine), Gabriel started his independent career at Universidad de Guanajuato. In 2012, he joined the Department of Applied Physics at Cinvestav Mérida. His group is focused on predicting molecular systems that violate what is established by traditional chemistry and that allow taking to the limit basic concepts like structure, chemical bond, and aromaticity. He has co-authored 220 articles and was awarded the 2012 Academia Mexicana de Ciencias and the Moshinsky Foundation Awards among others.