A fond farewell

With FEMS EUROMAT 2021 coming to an end, we chat with our FEMS Immediate Past President (2020–2021) and FEMS EUROMAT 2021 Scientific Committee co-Chair, Paloma Fernández-Sánchez about her time working with FEMS and what she thought of this year’s virtual event.

Paloma, tell me about your experience with FEMS and what you have most enjoyed?

My first contact with FEMS was in 2007 when I attended my first General Assembly as SOCIEMAT President. I did not know anybody there, but very soon I felt at home. My best experience is the people I have met during these years. I am proud of having worked with them and of course not forgetting my time as FEMS President, I still cannot believe it happened.

You have been involved with FEMS EUROMAT/Junior EUROMAT. What was it like being on the Scientific Committee?

I have been involved in FEMS EUROMAT/Junior EUROMAT in practically all possible roles. In 2009, I was co-Chair in Glasgow, then I don't really know how I came to bid for FEMS EUROMAT 2013, but I did, and FEMSEUROMAT 2013 was an incredible experience. I have been a symposium organiser on several occasions, responsible for the education area and now co-Chair. The hardest decision was the cancellation of FEMA Junior EUROMAT 2020 due to COVID-19.

How was it helping to lead on this year’s event and how was your experience of a virtual conference?

I must say that all the Scientific Committee has worked hard to make this event such a success. I have missed a lot of face-to-face contact with them, but despite the situation, meetings have gone well, and the organisation has been a down to the hard work by the team.

Sincerely I do not like virtual conferences. It is not a criticism of the organisation of this year’s FEMS EUROMAT – it has been excellent. The platform is really good, friendly to use and versatile, but I miss seeing people in person.

If you are the speaker, you do not feel the presence of people, you only see their icons, but you are speaking to the screen, you cannot look at the people and see their faces and interpret whether they are liking and understanding your talk.

What are you most going to miss about your involvement in FEMS?

My friends. I will miss them a lot, but I hope we can keep the contact for many years. FEMS will always be a part of me. It has been an incredible experience over 15 years.

What’s next for you?

Who knows? In the short term I am organising a big conference next June, hopefully not virtual. Also, in the Spanish federation of scientific societies, I am involved in projects focused on the promotion of science at schools. In Spanish we have an expression which stands for, ‘step on all the puddles,’ we use when some is involved in many different things, I am a professional ‘puddle tread.’