Emeritus Fellow – Jean-Pierre Vairon

Prof. Jean-Pierre Vairon has been awarded the status of Emeritus Fellow in Division IV. This 2021 appointment reflects his standing as a scientist and continuing service to the Division and to the Union.

Jean-Pierre Vairon was a relatively late bloomer in IUPAC, his first contact coming in 1997 at the age of 60 when he attended the Division IV meeting at the Geneva GA in his capacity as chairman of the French Polymer Group. This quickly escalated into full-on involvement in both the Polymer Division and the IUPAC Council, to which he has been a French delegate almost without break ever since. His pièce de résistance in this regard was the 2019 General Assembly and World Chemistry Congress in Paris. As Coordinator of this meeting, which doubled as a celebration of the centenary of IUPAC, Jean-Pierre had to put in 5 years of hard work to pull it all together, what with 2600 participants, 2500 submissions, 1350 posters and countless sessions and meetings. Fifteen years earlier he had done it all before, when he was Chair of Macro2004, the 40th IUPAC World Polymer Congress. This also took place at Paris’s Palais de Congrès, and it remains the biggest and most glamorous Macro meeting ever held.

While Jean-Pierre is best known for chairing these two monumental IUPAC conferences, they are by no means his only significant contributions in IUPAC. Since 1997 he has been a constant member of the Subcommittee on Polymer Terminology, while in 1998, by virtue of his research interests in mechanisms and kinetics of cationic and radical polymerizations, he joined the Subcommittee on Modeling of Polymerization Kinetics and Processes. This led to him being a member, for example, of the task-group on propagation rate coefficients for n-butyl acrylate, the paper on which has been cited nearly 400 times. But in terms of Subcommittee work, Jean-Pierre achieved greatest prominence as the founding chair of the Subcommittee on Polymer Education, which he led from 2003 until 2011. This period coincided with him being an Associate Member (2004-05) and Titular Member (2006-11) of the Polymer Division. SPEd plays a very important role in terms of IUPAC’s mission, especially in reaching out to developing nations. Many of the education initiatives begun by Jean-Pierre have been highly successful and are still going to this day.

Another visionary role that Jean-Pierre had in IUPAC was as the driving force behind the Transnational Research Fund for Polymer Research. Under an IUPAC umbrella (the so-called Standing Committee for Chemistry Research Funding), it enabled funding of research projects involving workers from different participating countries, specifically USA, Germany, France and 4 other partners. It was hard work to get the various national funding agencies to cooperate, but when the first call was launched in 2009 (submissions) to 2010 (reviewing, funding) it was very successful, with 28 accepted full proposals from 88 applicants, of which 7 were funded to the tune of $5m total budget. A second call, for projects on sustainable chemistry, was planned for 2011-12, but unfortunately the plug had to be pulled because funding agencies became too timid, despite the initial success.

Outside of IUPAC Jean-Pierre had a long and fruitful career within French polymer science. From 1978 he was a full Professor at the University P. and M. Curie (UPMC), now Sorbonne Université. Over 1982-90 he was national manager of the newly created Polymer section of CNRS (Dept of Chemistry and Materials program-PIRMAT). From 1992 to 2000 he was the Director of the Polymer research unit UMR 7610 of CNRS at UPMC. He has been Chairman of the Scientific Council of Chemistry at UPMC (1994-97), and he was the creator and first director of the Institute of Materials Paris-Centre (2001-02). He has been Chairman of the French Polymer Group, Chairman of the Polymer Division of the French Chemical Society (1994-97), and in charge of the European ERA-Chemistry program at the direction of the National Institute for Chemistry-CNRS (2004-2010). Over all this period he produced about 170 scientific publications and patents, and was the supervisor of about 45 PhD students.

As we approach Jean-Pierre’s 85th birthday in 2022, it would surely be fitting to confer upon him Emeritus Fellowship of the Polymer Division in recognition and appreciation of his service and dedication to IUPAC in many different ways over a long period.

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