I am writing this blog post from Moscow, Russia, where I currently am. Some time ago, Professor Valentin Ananikov of the Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry sent me a kind invitation to speak at the MCMC-2014 meeting, which I immediately accepted. MCMC stands for “Molecular Complexity in Modern Chemistry”:
Particularly meaningful for me is the location of the venue, which is literally 5 minutes away from the high school I attended. On its walls, the Zelinksy Institute has a number of imposing pictures of luminaries who worked here in the years past, including Favorsky, Nazarov, Kishner (of the Wolff-Kishner reduction), Chichibabin, and many others. The program has been spectacular thus far and I really enjoyed all of the talks. The topics have ranged from organo- and photocatalysis (Dave MacMillan of Princeton) to gold chemistry (Steve Hashmi of the University of Heidelberg) to click chemistry (Valery Fokin of Scripps) to homogeneous catalysis (Carsten Bolm of the University of Aachen) to clusters in catalysis (Valentin Ananikov of the Zelinsky Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences) to metathesis catalyst design (Deryn Fogg of the University of Ottawa), among others. There are many more talks to come and a lot more vodka to drink. I plan to mention some highlights later this week. Thus far everything has been spectacular and our hosts were able to show their warm hospitality to all of the participants. I just want to say something that will represent the sentiment shared by absolutely everyone at this conference: these are not the simplest of times in these parts of the world and we need to keep in mind that science should serve its uniting role and be immune to politics of any kind. I was impressed by the fact that all of the foreign invitees were able to join the conference. From what I heard and felt during the first two days of the conference, we are off to an awesome start.