Marcel Swart

ICREA Research Professor

Feb 102016
Investigators Miquel Costas and Xavi Ribas have both received an “ERC Proof of Concept” project to bring their results to the market

Investigators Miquel Costas and Xavi Ribas have both received an “ERC Proof of Concept” project to bring their results to the market

Recently researchers of the IQCC and research group QBIS-Cat of the University of Girona have been successful with the ERC Proof of Concept program. This program is directly related to their ERC Starting Grant projects and tries to prepare the results obtained in these to bring them to market.

In the case of the “Copper Catalysis Applications” Xavi Ribas intends to enhance the characteristics of catalysis of organic transformations based on copper. In the research lab the team has developed protocols that allow selectively coupling reactions for carbon-nitrogen and oxygen-carbon bonds. The ERC-PoC project will explore the possibility of bringing this new technology to a commercial phase. In general, copper is an abundant and economical metal, which enables the development of new technologies that can be aimed at the design of more sustainable chemical synthesis.

On the other hand, the “Biologically inspired chiral oxidation catalysts for commercial applications of fine chemistry” project by Miquel Costas will study how chiral catalysts may be used to introduce oxygen atoms into achiral organic molecules, in an easy and cheap manner. The project intends to do a scale-up of the synthetic methods to the level of (pre-)commercial level that is needed by the fine chemical industry. Hence, it will lead to the commercial availability of a portfolio of chiral catalysts based on earth abundant metals with applications in chemical industry.

Feb 052016
Xavi Ribas repeats the ICREA Acadèmia award for his outstanding research

Xavi Ribas repeats the ICREA Acadèmia award for his outstanding research

Today ICREA announced the list of winners of the ICREA Acadèmia awards 2015, among which are two names from the University of Girona: Ramon Brugada (Medicine) and Xavi Ribas (IQCC and Chemistry). Congratulations to both!

For Xavi Ribas, member of IQCC and ERC-Starting Grant holder, it is the second consecutive time that he receives the award to continue and enhance the research he is carrying out at the IQCC. As ICREA mentions on the news item, this recognition improves the visibility of the awarded researcher, his collaborations, and gives a boost for the research of the investigators. For all of these reasons, it is splendid news, both for the IQCC and the Univ. Girona.

Nov 122015

This week a new book on “Spin states in Biochemistry and Inorganic Chemistry: Influence on Structure and Reactivity” has been published. The book is a recollection of a number of contributions from frontline eminent researchers from all over the world, and is the first textbook that deals entirely with spin states. The book has been published by Wiley, one of the most renowned publishers in scientific books in the world, after a preparation of more than two years.

New Wiley book on Spin States

Professors Miquel Costas and Marcel Swart proudly show the product of two years of intense labor

The concept of spin states is a relatively new topic in chemistry, which because of its complexity has been largely ignored in the scientific community and only in the past decade has gained recognition. “In part this is due to the problems of properly describing the electronic structure of transition-metal complexes by computational chemistry”, explains Prof. Swart. “Another issue is the enormous reactivity of these complexes”, adds Prof. Costas, “which makes that it is difficult to characterize them in full detail.” Therefore, a combination of a variety of techniques (both computational and experimental) is needed, for which collaborations between different research groups with their own expertise would be helpful. This has led to the construction of intense international networks through a number of European networks, such as the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) and the international training network (ITN) programs. Both of these programs in which the Institut de Química Computacional i Catàlisi (IQCC) of the University of Girona participates are funded through the EU’s Horizon2020 framework.

“Putting together the book was made easy because of these networks”, explains Swart, “because it made it easy to identify the experts for a certain topic and ask them to contribute. In this way, we have been able to target a large number of frontline researchers to ask to share their expertise with a book chapter. To our surprise, almost all happily agreed to do so.” The result is a book of 472 pages with a total of 17 chapters that treat a wide range of subjects, which all deal with spin states. The book is a recollection of introductory chapters with descriptions of the methods that are used for these systems, followed by more specific chapters that deal with specific aspects and/or reactions and/or systems. In the end it has parts that are targeted at starting researchers in the field, while others are clearly for advanced researchers. “Obviously, it is this overall view of spin states that makes this book a real contribution to the field, and we hope that it could be used as reference material in undergraduate and Master courses in chemistry and life sciences,” explains Costas.

Related to putting together the book is the organization of the 2016 edition of the Girona Seminar, a bi-annual conference series held in Girona in April, which has as topic “Predictive Catalysis: Transition-Metal Reactivity by Design”. Costas explains: “We have been able to put together an interesting line-up of plenary and keynote speakers, both from Europe and the USA, whose expertise is in line with the topic of the book. In fact, several of the speakers have contributed to the book, for which we are very grateful”. This has also led to the recognition by one of the most prominent journals in the scientific literature, Nature Chemistry, that will be supporting the Girona Seminar conference by providing awards for the best contributions by young researchers. “We are very happy and proud of this recognition, and are looking forward to a very interesting meeting in April”.

Prof. Marcel Swart obtained his PhD in Groningen (NL) with a study on copper proteins (Sept. 2002). He works since 2006 at the IQCC (Univ. Girona), and was promoted to ICREA Research Professor in Sept. 2009. He has published over 120 papers, formed part of tribunals for Masters and PhD ceremonies, formed part of evaluation committees for ANEP, and as reviewer for >30 journals and (inter)national science organizations (ANEP, NWO, FWO, SNF, Prace). He has received funding from (inter)national science organizations and companies, organized a CECAM/ESF Workshop (Zaragoza, 2012), is Chair of a COST Action (CM1305, ECOSTBio), is Editor of a Wiley-book on “Spin states in Biochemistry and Inorganic Chemistry” (2015), is the main organizer for the Girona Seminar 2016 and is Associate Editor for RSC Advances. He was awarded the Young Scientist Excellence Award 2005, the MGMS Silver Jubilee Prize 2012, supervised two PhD theses with Premi Extraordinari, and in Oct. 2014 was selected as member of the Young Academy of Europe.

Prof. Miquel Costas is professor of inorganic chemistry at the University of Girona, member of the Department of Chemistry and of the Institute of Computational Chemistry and Catalysis. He earned his doctorate at the University of Girona in 1999, and after a post-doctoral stay at the University of Minnesota became a professor at the University of Girona in 2003. He has published over one hundred articles in the field of biologically inspired inorganic chemistry and catalysis. He has been visiting professor at Carnegie University in Pittsburg and at the Debye Institute for Catalysis at the University of Utrecht. He has been awarded ICREA Academy Awards in 2009 and 2014, and the prize for research excellence of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry in 2014.

Oct 262015

Olaf Cussó, PhD student at the Institute of Computational Chemistry and Catalysis (IQCC) and the Department of Chemistry of the University of Girona has won one of the three awards for doctoral students that the pharmaceutical company Lilly-Spain grants every year. This year corresponds to the thirteenth edition. These prestigious awards recognize the research work of PhD students in the areas of organic chemistry, pharmaceutical and analytical chemistry. At the awards ceremony held on September 25 at the premises of Lilly in Alcobendas (Madrid), Olaf made a speech setting out the most important results of his research, which meant seminal contributions to the study of iron compounds to carry out stereoselective epoxidation reactions with high interest in organic synthesis. Olaf Cussó is finishing his doctoral studies at the Bioinorganic and Supramolecular Chemistry Group (QBIS), under the direction of Dr. Miquel Costas and co-direction of Dr. Xavi Ribas.

For more information (in castellano), see here.

EUACC (51) EUACC (58)

Oct 242015

Olaf Cussó, estudiant de doctorat de l’Institut de Química Computacional i Catàlisi (IQCC) i del Departament de Química de la UdG ha guanyat un dels tres premis per alumnes de doctorat que l’empresa farmacèutica Lilly-España atorga cada any, i que enguany correspon a la XIII edició. Aquests prestigiosos premis reconeixen la tasca investigadora des estudiants de doctorat en les àrees de Química Orgànica, Farmacèutica o Analítica. En l’acte d’entrega dels premis celebrat el passat dia 25 de setembre a les instal·lacions de Lilly a Alcobendas (Madrid), l’Olaf va realitzar una xerrada exposant els resultats més importants del seu treball de recerca, que han suposat aportacions seminals en l’estudi de compostos de ferro per dur a terme reaccions d’epoxidació amb alt interès en síntesi orgànica. Olaf Cussó està acabant els seus estudis de doctorat en el grup de Química Bioinorgànica i Supramolecular (QBIS), sota la direcció del Dr. Miquel Costas, i co-direcció del Dr. Xavi Ribas.

Més información podeu trobar aqui.

EUACC (58) EUACC (51)

Oct 072015

GS16_poster4Next year we are organizing the next edition of the biannual Girona Seminar series, which has been modified and is now focusing on the combined efforts of theory and experiment. See:

Important dates

  • Girona Seminar: April 17-20, 2016
  • Deadline abstracts for contributed talks: November 1, 2015
  • Deadline abstracts for posters: February 1, 2016

The Girona Seminar 2016 goes in line with the objectives and aims of our Institute of Computational Chemistry and Catalysis ( It will be held from April 17-20, 2016 in the beautiful city of Girona (Spain), and has as title: “Predictive Catalysis: Transition-Metal Reactivity by Design”.


We have gender-balanced lists of Plenary speakers:
Kara Bren, Andy Borovik, Serena DeBeer, Bas de Bruin, Odile Eisenstein, Ken Houk, Franziska Schoenebeck, Franc Meyer

and Keynote speakers:
Martin Albrecht, Carole Duboc, David Balcells, Bettina Lotsch, Dimitrios Pantazis, Cristina Nevado, Ulf Ryde, Jana Roithova

Young researchers

With this edition we will be fostering young researchers, through low registration costs and having Nature Chemistry Poster prizes, and Talk Awards for young researchers up to 8 years after PhD. Therefore we want to promote both the participation and visibility of young researchers, not only at the meeting itself, but also on social and printed media.

More information can be found at the website:

We are looking forward to seeing you in Girona in April!!

Local Organizing Committee:
Marcel Swart, Anna Company, Miquel Costas, Sílvia Osuna, Xavi Ribas

International Committee:
Andy Borovik, Kara Bren, Ken Houk, Larry Que, Ed Solomon

Jul 302015

El professor Miquel Duran Portas ha estat guardonat amb la Medalla Narcís Monturiol al mèrit científic i tecnològic que atorga anualment la Generalitat de Catalunya, convertint-se en el sisè investigador distingit de la UdG. El Govern ha aprovat la concessió de la Medalla i de la Placa Narcís Monturiol a setze personalitats i tres institucions. Aquests guardons, instituïts per la Generalitat l’any 1982, volen distingir les persones i entitats que han contribuït de manera destacada al desenvolupament de la ciència i la tecnologia a Catalunya.

Miquel Duran Portas (Maià de Montcal, 1957) es va doctorar en Ciències Químiques a la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) l’any 1984 i va fer la investigació post-doctoral a la Universitat de Berkeley, a Califòrnia (1985-1986). Des del 1992 és Catedràtic de Química Física a la Universitat de Girona, institució en què ha ocupat diversos càrrecs acadèmics. Duu a terme la seva activitat investigadora en el marc de l’Institut de Química Computacional i Catàlisi (IQCC), concretament en el grup de recerca Modelatge Molecular i Metodologia Mecanoquàntica (M4), i és membre de la Càtedra de Cultura Científica i Comunicació Digital (C4D). El seu àmbit de recerca se centra en l’estudi teòric de l’estructura i reactivitat molecular, especialment la relacionada amb molècules d’interès biològic i amb molècules d’interès en la indústria informàtica i de telecomunicacions. És un reconegut divulgador de la ciència i ha escrit més de dos-cents articles científics.

Miquel Duran, distingit amb la Medalla Narcís Monturiol

Jun 192015

Today the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad has published the (provisional) list of winners of this year’s call of Ramón y Cajal fellowships (see link here). These RyC fellowships are five-year senior postdoc positions, and should in principle lead to a permanent position afterwards. On this year’s list are a number of candidates for the University of Girona, but most importantly for our IQCC institute, number 2 on the Chemistry list is Dr. Sílvia Osuna!!

After having already being awarded a national R&D project (CTQ2014-59212/BQU, PIs: Dr. Sílvia Osuna, Prof. Marcel Swart), this is the second major good news for Sílvia this year!

Keep up the good work!

Dr. Sílvia Osuna awarded a Juan de la Cierva position

Dr. Sílvia Osuna awarded a Ramón y Cajal position


Oct 302014

Earlier this week, Prof. Swart received the wonderful news that he was selected for the Young Academy of Europe!




The YAE is a pan-European initiative of outstanding young scientists that focuses on the following four main aims and activities:

  • Interdisciplinary exchange
  • Science policy
  • Networking
  • Science communication

Therefore, apart from the recognition of his research career, the YAE membership enables Prof. Swart to participate in a platform for networking, scientific exchange and science policy.

Oct 272013

The ISI Web of Knowledge has indicated that one of the papers of the IQCC published earlier this year is Highly Cited:

M. Swart, “Spin states of (bio)inorganic systems: successes and pitfalls”
Int. J. Quant. Chem. (Perspective) 2013, 113, 2-7

It has received 8 citations already (4 during the first six months of 2013, which is the period that ISI was looking at).

The article is an invited Perspective, which was asked for on Twitter by the Editor of the journal, on the current state of affairs regarding spin states in (bio)inorganic systems. The paper is related to a CECAM/ESF Workshop organized by Prof. Swart in Zaragoza in Sept. 2012, as highlighted in a News&Views item in Nature Chemistry. The abstract of the article is given below:

The calculation of spin-state splittings of transition-metal complexes is known to be very sensitive to the level of theory and the quality of the basis set. The performance of density functionals is in general understood, with older pure functionals overstabilizing low spin states, and Hartree–Fock and hybrid functionals doing the same for the high spin states. More recent functionals (OLYP/OPBE, TPSSh, SSB-D, M06-L) seem to improve on these, but there are still some systems that prove difficult. This Perspective describes some of the recent successes and pitfalls in the description of spin states and treats both methodology and applications such as metal-oxo complexes, exchange-enhanced reactivity, spin-state catalysis, and spin-crossover compounds.