« To be asked to write a foreword for a meeting of young future or fresh doctors when one was in this situation more than half a century ago looks a bit surprising. I finally accepted this challenge, considering that having known such a long period of time, one can analyse the evolution and try to guess how things may change during the next few years.
Fifty years ago, in any university in the world, less people worked in research and research developed more slowly than now, in particular because instrumentation was far less sophisticated. The first few NMR spectrometers worked at 40 MHz and you can imagine how poor was their resolution. The University of Nancy was very proud of being equipped with an electronic computer, an enormous IBM 650, requiring a special, air conditioned room, working with punched cards for a 2Ko memory! The consequence of this state of things was that, although everyone was pretty busy, we had some time left to think and follow what was on in the other fields of science. For instance the local section of the French Chemical Society organized a monthly meeting attended by almost every chemists whatever be their hierarchical position.
Nowadays you are far from this situation and your subjects are more specialized. This is quite general. After having visited many research institutions, I have the satisfaction of seeing that research at the University of Lorraine can be advantageously compared to what exists in the best universities of the world and the doctors graduated in Lorraine can fully compete with their contemporaries from any origin. The present book of abstracts is a perfect illustration of this situation. This has to be credited mainly to your own merits, and an old colleague is entitled to congratulate you warmly.
At the end of these doctoral years, after having produced an original personal work, you will probably face new problems and enlarge your views on science, matter or life and on the world in general. This is not loss of time and will help you to do the wiser choices for your personal future.
All the best!»
Jean-Louis Rivail, emeritus professor, Institut Jean Barriol.