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Vol. 31 No. 6
November-December 2009

From the Editor

Where is IUPAC located? This is a question I have been asked often and it is somewhat of a puzzle to come up with a precise answer. I can answer “nowhere” and “everywhere there is a member.” Of course, most people asking the question want to know where the office of the Secretariat is located. image of Fabienne MeyersTo that, I can answer that for the last 12 years or so, the Secretariat has been located in the Research Triangle Park area in North Carolina, USA. Yet, I should add that this location is sort of virtual because of its relative remoteness and the fact that the office hosts only a staff of five. Likewise, all other “key players” are all over the world: the Union officers are currently in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, and Korea, and others, from divisions and standing committees, are from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK. So, really, when I am asked “Where is IUPAC located?” my preferred way to answer is “everywhere.”

Moreover, in addition to the office’s physical location in North Carolina, the Secretariat depends on the regular work of several contractors, who work remotely from various U.S. locations, including Louisiana, Maryland, New York, and from abroad, such as the Czech Republic. My own IUPAC ID bears an address in Boston, Massachusetts. Beside all that, there is yet another address of which I like to remind folks, and that is the official address in the Canton of Zürich, Switzerland, where IUPAC has been chartered since 1967.

It is not surprising really for such an international organization to be delocalized. What is more surprising is that IUPAC is not significantly more international today than 50 years ago when technology had not yet made the entire world easily accessible through the Internet. Today, Skyping a colleague 10 000 kilometres away is now easier (and cheaper) than a phone call across the pond a few years ago. (So, how could IUPAC make better use of contemporary communication technology to further its reach? That is a different question, and if you have ideas, do let us know.)

To me, it does not really matter where IUPAC is located. Its location is in flux, in place and time, and what really grounds the organization are the individuals and groups of folks who are actively involved. So, to that point, and as this issue clearly attests, in August of this year IUPAC was located in Glasgow, Scotland. If you were not present, we hope that these accounts will give you a sense of what happened during the General Assembly. We also hope that you will develop a little envy of those who were involved and make plans to participate in the next assembly. To do so, visit <www.iupac2011.org> . . . then, in August 2011, IUPAC will be located in Puerto Rico.

Fabienne Meyers
fabienne@iupac.org


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