2020 BIST Conference

Building a sustainable world together

October 26-29, 2020 | Online

This fourth edition of the BIST Annual Conference was focused on the latest developments in an area of priority for BIST research: sustainability. Local and international keynote speakers joined us from all over the world, attendees participated in roundtable discussions, and key issues for the research community were discussed at satellite sessions leading up to the day of the conference 


Our current patterns of production and consumption are depleting the planet’s resources, such as biomass, water, minerals, and fossil fuels, while generating exponential growth in waste as well as air and soil pollution. This has resulted in the serious climate crisis we are experiencing, which threatens the future of humanity.

As scientists working in some of the most advanced research institutions in our country, BIST researchers know the science behind climate change and recognise the urgency to take actions to address global warming and avoid its catastrophic effects. We feel compelled to use our science to meet this global social challenge, as reflected in the BIST Research Initiative on Energy and Environmental Sustainability.

Once more, the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) invited its entire community and its various stakeholders and partners to meet at its annual conference to discuss the latest developments in an area of priority for BIST research, focusing on sustainability.

Under the title Buiding a sustainable world together, the 2020 BIST Conference programme included two round-tables with BIST researchers working on nano-bioengineering for pollution remediation and on clean energy, and a debate with representatives from all BIST centres on how to turn research institutes into more sustainable organisations themselves.

Our first keynote speaker was Dr. Esther Alarcón, 3D-Photovoltaics Group Leader at AMOLF in Amsterdam. Her work aims to extend the boundaries of 3D additive nano-manufacturing of functional semiconductor nanostructures, opening a wide range of possibilities for the generation of novel devices, in particular in the domain of photonics and energy conversion.

The second keynote speaker was Philip Ball, renowned scientific writer —chemist and physicist by training — who has written several books and many articles on how science should and can confront big social challenges.

The 2020 BIST Conference programme also included three satellite sessions on closing the gender gap in research, the future of science communication, and engaging institutes in sustainable research.

Conference attendees also had the chance to hear the directors of the BIST centres discuss key questions in research and sustainability throughout day.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 BIST Conference was successfully held online.


October 26

16.30h – 18.00h









Roundtable: Closing the Gender Gap in Research: Collective Challenges Ahead


Moderator: Toni Pou (Journalist)


  • Isabelle Vernos (CRG)
  • Núria Montserrat (IBEC)
  • María García-Parajo (ICFO)
  • Mónica H. Pérez-Temprano (ICIQ)
  • Néus Domingo (ICN2)
  • Neus Prats (IRB Barcelona)
  • Nuria Bayó (BIST)

BIST and its centres have undertaken several activities and built programmes for closing the gender gap, with some encouraging results. Some of these accomplishments and remaining challenges will be discussed. [+]

October 27

16.30h – 18.00h









Roundtable: The Future of Science Communication


Moderator: Àlex Argemí, Head of Marketing and Communication, ICN2


  • New formats, new audiences, by Jorge Cham, Cartoonist
  • What about brands? by Berta Roca, Founder and CEO of BertaRoca&Co
  • How to handle uncertainty from scientific communication, by Frank Kupper, Associate Professor Science Communication & Public Engagement (Athena Institute – VU Amsterdam)

New target audiences and new delivery formats, branding tendencies and how to deal with uncertainty as science communicators and researchers will be discussed. [+]

October 28

16.30h – 18.00h











Roundtable: How to Engage Research Institutes in Sustainable Research


Moderator: Xavier Gabarrell (ICTA-UAB)


  • Donate Weghorn (CRG)
  • Teresa Sanchís (IBEC)
  • Marta Ventosa (ICIQ)
  • Andrea Bonaccini (ICN2)
  • Gonzalo Merino (IFAE)
  • Tiago Botelho (IRB Barcelona)

Sustainability in the day-to-day activity and management of research institutes will be discussed. Challenges and best practices will be shared along with examples of solutions from within and outside the BIST Community. [+]


October 29

9.30h Presentation – Elisabet Romero (ICIQ), Conference Technical Programme Chair
9.45h Welcome – Gabby Silberman, Director General of BIST
10.00h – 11.00h



Keynote speech

Dr. Esther Alarcón Lladó, 3D-Photovoltaics Group Leader at AMOLF (The Netherlands)

11.00h – 12.15h


Roundtable I:

MOFs, a Powerful Framework for Pollution Remediation

Moderator: Alfredo Ongaro (ICFO)


  • Tania Patiño (IBEC & University of Rome Tor Vergata)
  • Leyre Gómez Navascués (ICN2)
  • Cristina Sáenz, founder and former CEO of Orchestra Sci
12.15h – 15.00h Break – Lunch
15.00h – 16.15h


Roundtable II:

Solar and Bio-inspired Energy Solutions

Moderator: Mónica Lira-Cantu (ICN2)


  • Pau Gorostiza (IBEC)
  • Jordi Martorell (ICFO)
  • Antoni Llobet (ICIQ)
16.30 – 17.00h Coffee break
17.00h – 18.00h Keynote speech

The view ahead: where is science heading?

Philip Ball, Science Writer, Broadcaster

18.00h Closing


Esther Alarcón Lladó
3D-Photovoltaics Group Leader (AMOLF)

Philip Ball
Science Writer, Broadcaster

Elisabet Romero
Conference Programme Chair, Group Leader (ICIQ)

Gabby Silberman
Director General of BIST

Toni Pou
Science Journalist (Diari Ara), Author, Physicist

Isabelle Vernos
Group Leader, ICREA Research Professor (CRG)

Núria Montserrat
Group Leader, ICREA Research Professor (IBEC)

María García-Parajo
Group Leader, ICREA Research Professor (ICFO)

Mónica H. Pérez-Temprano
Group Leader (ICIQ)

Néus Domingo
Platform Leader (ICN2)

Neus Prats
Core Facility Manager (IRB Barcelona)

Núria Bayó
Head of Academic Programmes & Organisational Effectiveness (BIST)

Àlex Argemí
Head of Marketing and Communication, ICN2

Jorge Cham
Cartoonist, Writer, Producer

Berta Roca
Founder and CEO of BertaRoca&Co

Frank Kupper
Associate Professor Science Communication & Public Engagement (Athena Institute – VU Amsterdam)

Xavier Gabarrell
Director of the ICTA-UAB

Donate Weghorn
Group Leader (CRG)

Teresa Sanchís
Head of Strategic Initiatives (IBEC)

Marta Ventosa
PhD Student (ICIQ)

Andrea Bonaccini
PhD Student (ICN2)

Gonzalo Merino
Director of PIC (part of IFAE)

Tiago Botelho
Industrial Liaison Officer (IRB Barcelona)

Alfredo Ongaro
Postdoctoral Researcher (ICFO)

Tania Patiño
Visiting Researcher (IBEC) & Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

Leyre Gómez Navascués
PROBIST Posdoctoral Fellow (ICN2)

Cristina Sáenz
Founder and Former CEO of Orchestra Sci

Mónica Lira-Cantu
Group Leader (ICN2)

Pau Gorostiza
Group Leader, ICREA Research Professor (IBEC)

Jordi Martorell
Group Leader (ICFO)

Antoni Llobet
Group Leader (ICIQ)

BIST centres

Institutional Members of the Board of Trustees