Sep 6, 2013

Interview with Prof. Ernesto Carmona

It has been a pleasure for us to interview last week Prof. Ernesto Carmona, Full Professor at University of Seville and the Institute for Chemical Research of CSIC (Seville, Spain).

Ernesto Carmona (PhD degree, University of Seville, 1974) did postdoctoral work at Imperial College London with (the late) Professor Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson (1974-1977). He then returned to Sevilla, to become full Professor in 1983, where he established an independent research group in the area of Organometallic Chemistry.

ARJ: Could you please do a brief introduction of your research?

In a general way my work focuses on the study of Coordination Compounds and Organometallic Compounds, an interdisciplinary area of Chemistry, on the borders between the Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, and focuses primarily on Organometallic Chemistry of transition metals, using different elements and referring to different problems: activation of small molecules, for example, dinitrogen, N2; carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, CO and CO2 respectively; dihydrogen, H2; other organic molecules as ethylene, propylene, alcohols, and simple aldehydes, etc.;

I also study the breaking of C-H bonds in hydrocarbons of different natures, in order to contribute to the possible use of methane, CH4, and other saturated hydrocarbons, as starting materials in chemical synthesis; the analogous study of chemical transformations where bonds between carbons atoms and other common atoms like oxygen or nitrogen are broken or formed in a selective way.

Currently another important line of work deals with the study of the transition metals compounds with multiple bond between metal atoms, especially with quad and quintuple bond between molybdenum atoms.

ARJ: Did you find any difficulty or troubles to be who you are (academically) right now?

I had to overcome many difficulties and have had to work hard, but I do not think this is anything special or different from what many other professionals find in their lives.

ARJ: Would you change anything in your path to get here?

No I wouldn’t. I'm very pleased to be able to develop my teaching activities at the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Seville, as well as the researchers’ ones at the Institute of Chemical Research at the research center of La Cartuja.

ARJ: Which are the factors that you understand most important for success in research?

Firstly it is imperative to have a team of researchers solvents with complementary scientific training, which allows interdisciplinary problems of current interest to be solved with certain guarantees of success. Furthermore, it is essential to have a good scientific infrastructure, which fortunately exists today in most of the universities and Spanish research centers. Another essential factor is to have a well-trained young scientist, highly motivated and determined to develop an outstanding doctoral thesis. And finally, you need to work hard, with a high dedication. Dr. Santiago Ramon y Cajal said that the secret to get it is very simple, and comes down to two words: work and perseverance.

ARJ: Do you consider you spent your time in the best way? In other words, do you have a global time management plan?

No I don’t have a global plan for managing time, nor do I think one could apply in my work, which unexpectedly sees many issues arise. We are required to attend to these issues with sense of responsibility, solidarity and commitment to our national and international colleagues. For example, participation in doctoral theses courts, in reviewing scientific papers submitted for publication by other authors (in English refereeing), or what I'm doing right now for you, is important just because I think it can help the diffusion of science and knowledge.

 It is important to be organized, have a high capacity for work and, as said before, a large time commitment, and I think that this is enough, or at least to me it has always been enough.

ARJ: How do you normally plan your work? Do you set any list of daily task or goals to achieve?

I assign priorities to my tasks according to their urgency, importance, etc. and I try to fulfill it strictly. Referring again to this questionnaire I’m participating in for you today, it has taken precedence over other tasks that were already scheduled. However, I think it is reasonable to do it like that and I have had no problem in altering the order of backlog, nor have I on many other occasions in similar circumstances.

ARJ: How do you normally set priorities in your work?

For me, teaching has always had priority and will continue to while I am active. After that, research, ordered according to their own urgency, to temporal realization by my collaborators, etc.

ARJ: Have you felt exceeded at some point by a high workload?

I must say that I rarely have felt exceeded and overworking has been, is, and, I fear, will remain a constant in my life.

ARJ: Thank you so much for your valuable collaboration at The All Results Journals' Blog

Interview made by Dr. BelĂ©n Suarez  and Dr. David Alcantara for The All Results Journals

Original interview (in Spanish)

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