An alchemical symbol with the words ‘εν το παν’ (‘one is the all’) which inspired Kekulé in a dream to discover the structure of benzene.
Emiliano Cortés  

Emiliano Cortés: “To have big dreams you need to imagine that things can be different and that you can contribute towards that.”

An interview with Emiliano Cortés (Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany), the TOP 5 finalist of the Dream Chemistry Award 2019 with the project “Lighting Up Chemical Reaction Pathways”.

What brought you to physical chemistry/chemical physics?
It was a process. I initially wanted to study biology. Then I realized that I wanted to know more about the molecular (and chemical) level and finally about the physical processes behind. That is how I ended up in physical chemistry.

How was preparing your Dream Chemistry Award project different from your day-to-day research work?
Yes, of course. It gave me the possibility to fully shape my dream and share it with others. I learned a lot during this process.

Your project engaged in plasmonic photocatalysis. Why did you choose this area?
It was not in one day. I have studied chemical reactions and light since some years ago and recently I entered into this field that I think could contribute or help us towards solving some global issues.

How important do you think is imagination and the ability to dream for a scientist?
It is very important! To have big dreams you need to imagine that things can be different and that you can contribute towards that.

You're in Munich nowadays, but you studied and did your PhD in Argentina. What are the similarities or differences in education and science in Argentina and Germany?
Education is public and free in both countries, as it should be in many countries towards having better-prepared societies and equal opportunities. Education is a right and I refuse to treat it as a commodity. Universities should be more important than banks always! However, saying that, the role of science is different in Argentina and Germany. Argentina’s economy is highly based on raw materials export with a low level of industrialization. Germany’s economy is highly industrial with great levels of innovation. In this latter case, science can contribute much more.

Anything else you wish to share?
I want to thank the organizers and IOCB for the opportunity and the great experience. I also want to encourage people to take part in the Dream Chemistry project as I found it really peculiar, interesting and fun!

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