10th ICG School

Anniversary celebrations include bioglasses

This year marked the 10th Anniversary of the ICG Summer Schools in Montpellier, France. The lectures were held in our normal venue at the University of Montpellier but the surroundings were unrecognisable because of extensive building work throughout much of the campus. Finding a route from the University accommodation to the lecture rooms on the first morning was far from straightforward even for old timers on the course and to add to the confusion it changed throughout the day to allow for the movement of heavy building equipment across the site. Fortunately, Prof Hehlen turned up on time to guide participants through the maze of fencing. A few though arrived late for the school because of transport upheavals the previous day in Paris following strike action; sadly they were delayed for a second time by the building work in Montpellier!

The first day was run as a single session for both the basic science stream and for those who had come to learn about bio and pharma glasses. 40 students were present, of whom a quarter where primarily registered for the bio stream. The temperatures outside were high, around 33C for most of the week, but powerful air conditioning inside the lecture rooms kept everyone awake. In the afternoon the students were each allocated a 3 minute slot to introduce themselves and explain their research interests. They showed admirable time-keeping skills and we were able to start the last lecture of the day on time. This talk given by Prof Delia Brauer gave everyone the opportunity to learn of the latest research in biomaterials. A welcome reception followed.

Over the next three days the class divided into two groups following the traditional Glass Science courses used for the previous 9 years and a stream on biomaterials that included the use of glasses to repair body parts, such as teeth and bones and was followed by an in-depth discussion of the design of glass containers for specialist products in the pharmaceutical industry. The chemical durability of glasses formed an important theme carried over from the first day into these specialist lectures.

Projects were allocated on the second afternoon to the students in groups of five, with the deliberate aim of mixing people with different backgrounds and expertise. For one hour on each of Wednesday and Thursday afternoons small group tutorials were held to explore topics introduced earlier in greater depth and more interactively. The tutorials proved particularly popular this year and there was significant demand for more such interactive sessions and slightly fewer formal lectures.

On the final morning everyone came together again for topics that introduced the applications of science in an industrial context. These helped to indicate the kinds of career paths that might be available. Unfortunately one speaker had been taken ill overnight but this provided an opportunity to distribute copies of the text book created over the previous 8 months in celebration of our Anniversary. Each participant was given one and there was considerable enthusiasm from the students to collect the signatures of the authors present.

In the afternoon the students took the floor to present the conclusions of their project work. Eight groups spoke on topics that covered a wide range of subjects. The winning group, consisting of Petr Chrast, Susanta Sengupta, Julia Weiβhuhn, Bulat Sydykov and Marcela Arango Ospina; their topic was: ‘Is it accurate to describe the silica rich exoskeleton of certain deep sea creatures as glassy? Can an understanding of the way biological processes naturally produce complex structures based on glassy materials help us to develop new materials?' Before the awards were announced the party atmosphere to celebrate our 10th Anniversary began. Profs Conradt and Parker played two piano duets as part of the entertainment and one of the students had brought with him a banjo which he used to lead some community singing.

During this session we were joined by a group from Wuhan University who wanted to see how the Montpellier Schools compared with the more recently developed Winter Schools in Wuhan. A representative of Prof Peng Shou, Prof Pan also gave a talk on the Chinese Glass Industry to conclude the morning session.

At the end of the day we had our end of school party at our normal venue of Trinque Fougasse, a short distance away. Here glasses and stomachs were filled frequently with wine and plates of Tapas style food. Conversation too flowed until late into the evening until we finally parted until the same time again next year.

Next year's summer school will be from 8-12th July again in Montpellier and before that we have a Winter School in Wuhan (5-9th November 2018). More information about both is on the ICG Web site (icglass.org).

Finally we wish to thank our speakers all of whom give their time without payment; the course could not run without their contribution. The speakers on the Basic Science course were in order of presentation: J Parker, R Conradt, D Brauer, R Vacher, P Florian, H Inoue, J Deubener, J C Sangleboeuf, A Takada, B Hehlen, M Choudhary, R Hand, Prof Pan, and on the Biomaterials options: R Hill, L Hupa, A Boccaccini, M Guglielmi and D Zuccato.

Last Updated: 10/09/2018
Author: John Parker
Labels: Icg News

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