In the beginning
Probably the first brick was laid in the summer of 2017 when my JCE paper on the periodic table was published . The paper was shortly sent to Eric R. Scerri as a world-renowned expert on the periodic table  and Philip Stewart who had written a paper on left-step periodic table . Both Eric and Philip liked the paper. In retrospect, Eric e-mailed me that he read the paper with much interest almost exactly 2 years before the conference. In retrospect, the three of us became the co-chairs of “Mendeleev 150”.
Following some correspondence with Eric, came his e-mail in December 2017 pointing out that UNESCO had proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT2019) . We had a sudden Skype conversation and agreed that we could do something about it together. However, it was not until I started as an associate professor at SCAMT Laboratory, ITMO University, that I could think of announcing a project as ambitious as “Mendeleev 150”.
The idea of the 4th International Conference on the Periodic Table to be held in Saint Petersburg was conceived during a Skype conversation between Eric and myself on March 17th, 2018. We decided that we wanted “our” conference, as we started to call it, to be the next conference in the series after Vatican City, Canada and Peru . We picked the end of July 2019, 3 days, 26th, 27th and 28th, as Eric explained due to his lecturing commitments at UCLA he could only travel during summer, and the weekend, Friday to Sunday, seemed a reasonable idea to us to attract more visitors.
The next day I came to SCAMT Laboratory and told its heads, Alexander Vinogradov and Vladimir Vinogradov, that we would host a periodic table conference in the summer of 2019, and I received their full support and approval.
The first steps
On April 7th, 2018, Eric approached Fabienne Meyers, IUPAC Secretariat’s associate director and managing editor of “Chemistry International”, asking what we had to do to have our conference listed in the “Events” section on the official IUPAC website (https://iupac.org/). The next day, Eric told me that we had to apply for the IUPAC Endorsement for that. Also, he told me he had contacted Natalia Tarasova and that Philip would be delighted to come.
We started working on our application for IUPAC Endorsement. The first few speakers we invited were Elena Ghibaudi, Nathan Brooks, Naum Imyanitov and Viktor Vyatkin. On April 14th we invited Fabienne to join the International Advisory Board (IAB) of the conference and Philip – to become the conference’s third co-chair, the invitation which Philip accepted. On May 1st, Fabienne joined the IAB. Two further speakers we confirmed were Eugene Babaev and Igor Dmitriev. On May 17th the application was completed, and Eric sent it to Fabienne.
“Mendeleev 150”  website (https://mendeleev150.ifmo.ru/) was launched on May 29th by Alexey Zyuzin. The next day I e-mailed Frank Sekeris to ask him to add our conference to the calendar of IYPT2019 related events on their official website (https://www.iypt2019.org/). On the same day, Evamarie Hey-Hawkins joined the conference.
On June 24th, I invited Mei-Hung Chiu to speak at our conference, an invitation she accepted just 2 days later.
On June 25th, I sent to Fabienne a revised version of our application for IUPAC Endorsement. Already on July 3rd Fabienne e-mailed Eric and I that our IUPAC Endorsement application had been approved.
Several days before the approval, on June 28th, David Avnir joined the IAB which later resulted in his becoming the Chair of the Programme Committee, a key person to acknowledge for the high scientific level of the conference and countless details that made the organization exceptional.
More than a year prior to “Mendeleev 150”, we were proud to have the IUPAC Endorsement, the first periodic table conference in history to have one. Meanwhile, there were only six people to work on the conference: myself, Eric, David, Alexey, Fabienne and Philip. We had a year of hard work ahead.
After IUPAC Endorsement
Shortly after the IUPAC Endorsement, I went to the University of Bristol to The International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry Twenty-second annual conference to meet with Eric Scerri, Philip Stewart, Elena Ghibaudi and also W. H. Eugen Schwarz.
At the University of Bristol, Eric Philip and I (Fig. 1) made the first draft of what the final programme would eventually look like.
Also, on July 14th Natalia Tarasova agreed to become the IUPAC representative to the Conference, while on the next day, July 15th, Peter Atkins agreed to give a lecture.
On July 28th, 2018, Fabienne Meyers e-mailed me, drawing my attention to the fact that the 100th anniversary of IUPAC would happen exactly during “Mendeleev 150”, a year later.
After Bristol, one of the focuses of the work was to invite further speakers. The rest of the speakers, confirmed in 2018, in chronological order, were: Jun Li (July 28th), Pekka Pyykkö (August 2nd), Shiv N. Khanna (August 13th), Artem Oganov (August 14th), Christopher H. Hendon (August 14th), W. H. Eugen Schwarz (October 31st) and, finally, David Avnir, who agreed to take a further responsibility of giving a lecture, too (November 1st).
By November 2018, “Mendeleev 150” had already confirmed a number of world-renowned speakers, but the next phase of work, the active preparations, was still ahead. It became clear that “Mendeleev 150” needed the best crew in the world to happen.
The titans that made the conference
In November, I asked Nadezhda Maksimenko, a then-first-year undergraduate student whom I was lecturing in physical chemistry and who by that time had already joined my research group whether she would be interested in joining The Organizing Committee of “Mendeleev 150” and whether there were my other students who would be interested in it. The answer was positive.
On November 28th, 8 months we had the first briefing of The Organizing Committee which went on to consist of Elizaveta Punchenko, Alexandra Ignatenkova, Anna Vanina, Daria Rusikova, Daria Minakova, Nadezhda Maksimenko, Olga Boyarintseva and Sofia Antipova (Fig. 2).
They were offered nothing but toil and sweat, a 24/7 job with no salary and an extremely demanding leader to work with. Yet, they stayed to selflessly work on “Mendeleev 150” until its very closing ceremony.
Elizaveta Punchenko, vice chair, worked with documents, calculated expenses, drew up invitation letters, purchased materials, took part in designing the conference, was in charge of the poster session and the volunteers, held briefings, and much more. During the actual conference, she was responsible for managing the overall situation, relaying tasks to the volunteers, and, most importantly, organizing and overseeing the exhibition and poster session.
Anna Vanina, content director, was in charge of promoting the conference through a local social network, creative posts and images to draw attention to the conference and photographs during IYPT2019 Opening Ceremony in Moscow. During the conference, she took in active part in preparations and organization, especially in helping Dmitry Weise with his exhibits. She made the after-conference slide-show.
Daria Rusikova, chief web officer, was in charge of promoting the conference through Facebook, creative posts and images to draw attention to the conference. During the conference, she took in active part in preparations and organization, especially in preparing the conference packs.
Alexandra Ignatenkova, brand director, was the person responsible for branding and visual style of the conference. She worked with designers, approved mock-ups, and reviewed ideas: from pins and T-shirts to banners and floor stickers.
Daria Minakova, chief operations officer, was in charge of the conference mailbox, registration fees, flight and accommodation promo-codes and the numerous e-mails sent personally to acknowledge the fact of pre-registration. During the conference, she registered participants and took an active part in the preparations and organization. She put together the book of abstracts.
Nadezhda Maksimenko, chief data officer, kept track of the signed-up guests, filled out their data, verified payments and sent numerous welcoming e-mails to acknowledge the fact of the complete registration. During the conference, she registered participants, managed the speakers’ presentations, was in charge of their entrance music, designed and made the certificates of attendance and the template for the speakers.
Olga Boyarintseva, visa support executive, worked with visa invitations, visa support and closely worked with The Center of International Faculty Support, ITMO University, to make sure that each foreign participant gets the visa on time. During the conference, she took an active part in preparations and organization, especially in helping Dmitry Weise with his exhibits.
Sofia Antipova, chief financial officer, was in charge of organizing the flights, accommodation for the speakers, taxis for the participants, lunches, buffets, coffee breaks and the banquet, e-mail notifications, finances and much more.
A photo of The Organizing Committee receiving standing ovations at the end of the closing ceremony of “Mendeleev 150” is given in Fig. 3.
The International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements started
In the beginning of 2019, two plenary speakers were confirmed: David Seaborg (January 11th) and Hideto En’yo (January 12th). Later, “Mendeleev 150” was exposed in Paris, at the UNESCO HQ, on January 29th, during the IYPT2019 Opening Ceremony.
We were proud to launch the registration for the conference on February 5th, something we would not be able to do without Maria Didkovskaia’s Internationalization Department. The next day, we were already presenting “Mendeleev 150” during IYPT2019 Opening Ceremony in Moscow.
Later on, in 2019, the following “Mendeleev 150” speakers were confirmed: Platon Kachalin (February 17th), Jordi José (March 2nd), Michelle Francl (March 5th), Elena Ginak (April 10th), Daniel Rabinovich (May 10th) and, finally, Veronika Elkina (May 31st).
The final preparations
The last 2 months before “Mendeleev 150”, June and July, were especially full of work that had to be done to make sure that the level of organization of the conference would be exceptional.
We started working at the future venue of “Mendeleev 150” from Monday, July 22nd. During that most important week, “Mendeleev 150” crew was joined by Dmitry Weise’s team, responsible for the periodic system exhibition, and a whole army of students of Solution Chemistry of Advanced Materials and Technologies Institute who abandoned all their research activities for several days in order to bring to life the colourful and ambitious exhibition of the conference.
The day before “Mendeleev 150”, David Avnir arrived to the venue to discuss the last-minute preparations. The night before “Mendeleev 150”, we were ready to start.
“Mendeleev 150” was lucky and privileged to bring together a group of remarkable speakers (Fig. 4); some of them are highlighted below.
Hideto En’yo, Director of RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-based Science (Fig. 5), gave an exciting lecture about the history of nihonium, element #113, the first element to be named after Japan.
Veronika Elkina, School #197 (Fig. 6), invited the guests on an enthralling journey into the countries of discoveries of chemical elements, for which she did a thorough literature search and devised an updated version of the periodic table geography.
Pekka Pyykkö, Emeritus Professor at the University of Helsinki (Fig. 7), gave a talk on the origins, purpose, an inner workings of the periodic table, a lecture he considers one of his most important.
Peter Atkins, Emeritus Professor of physical chemistry at the University of Oxford, took the guests on an absorbing visually impressive journey through elaborations and foundations of the periodic table (Fig. 8).
Artem Oganov, Professor of Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Fig. 9), lectured on novel chemical phenomena at extreme conditions and the possibilities of prediction of all stable compounds formed by given elements.
Platon Kachalin, Pyotr Kapitsa School #1557 (Fig. 10), gave a lecture on chemistry through the eyes of an astronomer, from primary nucleosynthesis to evolution of stars and synthesis of elements.
David Seaborg, President of the World Rainforest Fund (Fig. 11), came to Russia for the first time to speak about the scientific legacy of his legendary father, Glenn T. Seaborg, the scientist who added ten elements to the periodic table and the first man have an element named after him during his lifetime. David Seaborg also revealed some personal, previously unheard facts of his father’s life to make the iconic Noble Prize winner more relatable to general audience.
Exhibition and poster session
“Mendeleev 150” had a special approach to what was initially conceived as just a poster session. As more and more participants approached us via e-mail with a request to provide them with an ability to display something in addition to the poster, we felt inclined to switch from a conventional poster session format to a combined exhibition and poster session format. Some of the remarkable exhibition and poster session contributions are highlighted below.
Haresh Lalvani presented his newest 4D-cubic periodic table of elements which included digital images, computer animations and a physical model.
Yoshiteru Maeno (Fig. 12) displayed his “Elementouch” and three-dimensional periodic tables.
Alice Carlotto and Marco Dalla Tiezza offered the guests “The fantastic story of Rare-earths”, a well-illustrated educational poster about rare-earths.
Dmitry Weise crafted his own exhibits of a variety of archetypes of the periodic system, made of plastic and cardboard (Figs. 13 and 14).
Maristella Cestaro et al., invited everyone to interact with their project “The chemical elements take a selfie!” (https://pls.scienze.unipd.it/tavolaperiodica/english/PeriodicTable.html) on a big touchscreen (Fig. 15). For the project, almost 400 students of 25 secondary schools had prepared an original periodic table, dressing like chemical elements, creating themed scenarios and finally taking pictures.
Maristella Cestaro et al. also brought “Chemical Quest”, an innovative trivia game based on the 102 elements of the periodic table from hydrogen to nobelium, developed collaboratively by secondary school and university teachers with the aim of increasing the interest of young students in chemistry.
Vitaly Khlopikov provided the guests with an opportunity to immerse in a virtual reality office of Dmitry Mendeleev with the help of HTC Vive (Fig. 16). In the immersive VR reconstruction, an attempt has been made to restore as many interior details and tools as possible.
Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim participated remotely with their astonishing project “An Elemental Journey through the Periodic Table”.
“The Empire State of Isotopes”, one of the most staggering exhibits, made of 3380 plastic cubes exclusively for the conference (Fig. 17), was inspired by Michelle Francl’s paper in Nature Chemistry .
Special appearances and IUPAC100
Kōsuke Morita, Director of the Superheavy Element Research Group at the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science, a member of “Mendeleev 150” IAB, made a video appearance to introduce Hideto En’yo.
Sir Martyn Poliakoff, Research Professor of chemistry at The University of Nottingham, a member of “Mendeleev 150” IAB, made a bilingual (in English and Russian) video appearance to greet the guests and celebrate the entire IYPT2019 (Fig. 18).
Finally, on the third day, Qi-Feng Zhou, IUPAC President, made a video appearance to congratulate the participants on the 100th anniversary of IUPAC.
IUPAC’s 100th anniversary was celebrated by a special cake with 100 candles that was brought on stage (Fig. 19).
Also, Eric Scerri and David Seaborg both came on stage to give a surprising electric guitar performance, the first one being a blues melody while the second one had a rock-n-roll vibe (Figs. 20 and 21).
Natalia Tarasova and Mei-Hung Chiu, IUPAC representatives, both came on stage to say a few word dedicated to IUPAC’s centennial (Fig. 22).
The conference in numbers
Apart from Russia, “Mendeleev 150” was happy to welcome guests from 30 countries across the globe: Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican City, Zambia (Fig. 23). The conference’s geography spanned across all continents, except Australia; the latest, however, made a remote appearance.
“Mendeleev 150” had nearly 300 participants, a half of which were either high-school, bachelor, master or PhD students. The full registration fee for a student of any type was unprecedentedly low: just €35.
A collection of invited papers based on presentations at “Mendeleev 150”: 4th International Conference on the Periodic Table endorsed by IUPAC, Saint Petersburg (Russia), 26–28 July 2019.
“Mendeleev 150” crew feels overwhelmingly indebted to: The rector of ITMO University, Vladimir Vasiliev, for giving the opportunity itself to host the conference, for showing that ITMO University is more than a university; First vice-rector of ITMO University, Daria Kozlova, for her support and approval of the conference; Maria Didkovskaia, the head of Internationalization Department, ITMO University, and her team, namely, Elizaveta Menis, Fatimat Karashaeva, Maria Khuzina, Viktoria Leontyeva and Madina Pshikhopova, for the help with the organization of the conference, registration fees and visa support; Anna Veklich, the head of Department for Strategic Communications, ITMO University, and her team, namely, Elena Ivanchenko, Alexey Minaev, Alexander Shadrin, Uliana Malysheva, Elena Menshikova for the financial support, help with the organization and promotion; Alexey Itin, the head of the Student Media Department, ITMO University, and his team, for their incredible technical support before and during the days of the conference; Anatoly Vatolin and his team, for the impressive conference decorations; Alexey Zyuzin, an ITMO University alumni, for the conference website and registration fees; Kim Mikhailov, Maria Lavrentieva and Elizaveta Koplylova, designers of SCAMT Institute, ITMO University, for the conference’s vibrant official style and branding; Vlada Petrova and Uliana Alevskaia for their help to The Organizing Committee; chairpersons of the conference, namely, Yoshiteru Maeno, Marcin Hoffmann, Alexandr Vinogradov, Haymo Ross, Evgeny Pidko, Juan Pablo Cid Ugalde, Tewfik Soulimane, Leif Lønsmann and Ekaterina Skorb, for elevating the level of the conference and steering its programme through the 3 days; Damon Kowarsky and Hyunju Kim for their remote participation with the astonishing project “An Elemental Journey through the Periodic Table”; Dmitry Weise and his team for the enormous help in the creation of the exhibition for the conference; volunteers of the conference who worked very hard for the 3 days of the conference to ensure that all the guests felt welcomed and comfortable; Hugh Burrows and Joshua Gannon for the perfect, scrupulous, prompt work on this Pure and Applied Chemistry special issue; partners of the conference, Aeroflot, Taxi ROSSIYA, Chemist-Psychopath, Chemistry – Easy, Mendeleev’s Institute of Metrology, MEL Science, TESCAN for the promotion and support; sponsors of the conference, Dia-M, ABCR GmbH, Frontiers in Chemistry and the Kolpashchikov Lab for their financial support and promotion; Natalia Tarasova for agreeing to become the IUPAC representative to the Conference and making a talk about IUPAC on its anniversary; Eric Scerri for the help in kicking off the conference and his exceptional work with the conference abstracts; Polina Khapaeva and Alexandra Lebedeva, SCAMT Institute, ITMO University, for the help with the organization and the preparations at the venue right before the conference; all the SCAMT Institute students and especially Anastasia Navrotskaia and her team, namely, Alexandra Schekina, Denis Kolchanov, Maxim Zakharzhevskii for bringing to life The Empire State of Isotopes; Danil Zaitsev for the great help with engineering The Empire State of Isotopes; Alexander Vinogradov and Vladimir Vinogradov, the co-heads of SCAMT Institute, ITMO University, for their overwhelming support from the very first day of conception of the conference to their final words said on stage of the closing ceremony of the conference; David Avnir for his support and wisdom, the many e-mails written to discuss how to make the conference great, and the help to carry it all through.
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