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Laudatio Profesora Dra. Mónica Campos Gómez

Dra. Mónica Campos Gomez

Laudatio Speech. January 29, 2016

HONOURABLE Rector of the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid 

[Esteemed]Chairman of the Social Council  

Director General of Universities and Research

Mayoress of Getafe 


Director of the Department of Material Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering 

Director of the Álvaro Alonso Barba Institute of Technology 

Academic Authorities 

Ladies and Gentlemen 

It gives me very great pleasure to present this laudatio for Professors Danninger and Molinari today. I would like to express my gratitude to the Universidad Carlos III for giving me this opportunity of introducing two such exemplary figures in their spheres of knowledge. Throughout my career in lecturing and research I have enjoyed the privilege of receiving their advice, collaboration and support. If I may be allowed to quote the eminent chemical engineer Dr Jack Welch, American entrepreneur and one of the most influential executive directors of the twentieth-century business world :

”If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Professors Danninger and Molinari have most certainly inspired generations of young researchers to dream more, learn more and aspire to becoming more. 

Professor Herbert Danninger, currently Dean of the Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technical University of Vienna, has spent thirty years engaged in research into sintered materials. His scientific career has been distinguished by the rigour, the high quality standards of his results and, above all, his inexhaustible capacity to expand and enhance knowledge within this field. He is the author or co-author of four books, has written some four hundred and twenty peer-reviewed publications, presented numerous papers at conferences, organised seven International Conferences on Powder Metallurgy and also acts as a consultant for sintering companies.   

If the historical evolution of powder metallurgy over the last twenty-five years were to be analysed, it would be impossible to comprehend it without studying Professor Danninger’s vital contributions.

His determination to transform what started out as a “minor technology” into a frontline competitor ([within/against] the all-powerful steel industry) inspired him to promote and support this field of research, sometimes overcoming significant geopolitical barriers. His zeal for collaboration led him to build efficient bridges between what are termed “Eastern” and “Western” Europe, in order to alleviate the isolation of many scientific communities, transmit knowledge and improve that of the community as a whole.   

However, his career is not only illustrated by highlights detailed on paper. Those of us who have had the opportunity of working with him will be aware of his loyalty as a colleague and partner on research projects, of the brilliance of his debates in the scientific forums, of his ability as a teacher, transmitting knowledge and above all enthusiasm. When we are in our classrooms speaking in front of Professor Danninger, we know that thanks to his reflections, his capacity for criticism and his questions, our research will develop, overleaping boundaries which we had not previously considered. Whether the speaker is a doctoral student or a senior researcher, Professor Danninger, with his gift for accurate analysis, will always try to take a long view /take stock / stand back, grasp the problem, and contribute an idea.

To strengthen research, to consolidate it, is a not only an individual task but the result of close, sincere collaboration between the members of the scientific community. For over eighteen years Professors Danninger and Molinari have maintained an active link with our University through various research projects, most importantly the Höganäs Chair. Thanks to this collaborative framework, seventeen Doctoral Theses giving priority to the exchange of knowledge, extended stays at other institutions and cultural exchange have been carried out. The network of scientific and personal relationships established in this context under the auspices of Professors Danninger and Molinari has brought together several generations of lecturers, company professionals and students from more than five different countries. A great many of my own students have been trained in laboratory techniques under their supervision at Vienna and Trento. 

My own research career has taken shape thanks to their unbounded generosity during my doctoral studies and our subsequent collaborative work. Even at a distance they offer guidance as mentors and never fail to encourage me with their optimism in the moments of confusion or disillusionment inevitable during a scientific career. 

Professor Molinari was Visiting Professor here at our University in 2009 thanks to the mobility programme run by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. He contributed significantly to the internationalization of our official Masters Programme, to improving its quality and generating the European Higher Education Area, then newly established.   

Professor Molinari is without a doubt one of the leading European authorities in the field of Powder Technology. His research career has balanced the application of the fundamental principles, innovation and the development of technology in the industry. The excellence of his scientific production is reflected not only by some four hundred contributions but also the frequency with which his findings are cited – evidence of a well-established and prestigious career. The organiser of European and World conferences in the field of Powder Metallurgy, he has always sought to build scientific networks which both complement one another and serve to attain competitive results.

His dedication to research and teaching, his commitment to his university, where he has occupied the positions of deacon, vice-rector and Head of Department, are testimony to his merit as a great academic figure. Of his more than two hundred postgraduate thesis and twenty-five doctoral thesis students, all those I have known speak of him with enthusiasm, respect and admiration. Thanks to the Erasmus Agreement /Programme we share, dozens of our engineers have received tuition from him and studied in his laboratories.

Personally, I have learned many things from Professor Molinari.  One should not lose oneself in sophistication. A researcher must be willing to stop and consider things, try to discover their essence, determine their characteristics. We must commit to the problem as the only option if, duly equipped with knowledge, we are to compel our imagination to come up with creative solutions. I have learned that if the imagination fails, we should not allow ourselves to lose hope or enthusiasm. We must be capable of seeking new challenges which reawaken our motivation. For this reason, I have adopted one of his expressions as an incentive: “why not?” 

After all, is not the ultimate aim of research to respond to unknown problems? 

Besides purely scientific work, the many occasions on which I have met the professor- at project meetings, on technical visits, at conferences, seminars, workshops and summer courses - have allowed us to forge not only a personal relationship but also a strong friendship.

Undeniably, we are today in the presence of two researchers whose careers have demonstrated their commitment to their profession, their colleagues, their students and the institutions to which they belong or with which they collaborate. Their intellectual curiosity, critical powers and above all their scientific creativity surely serve as an example and inspiration to us all.

For all these reasons, it is my firm belief that the incorporation of Professors Molinari and Danninger into our Senate of Doctors both honours our university and will enrich it as an academic institution. Therefore, I would ask our Honourable Rector to proceed with their investiture as Doctors Honoris Causa of the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid.