During the last year, I heard the same question more than once, from various corners: many people wonder what makes the membrane society so different from any other society. We are seen as a warm and welcoming society, with a low level of envy and with a remarkably positive attitude. That image is a fact. Some of us - and the academics in particular - may grin because we are all faced with competition for projects, the pressure to publish, and the increasing interdependency between the industry and universities or research institutes. Nevertheless, I subscribe to the positive image and I keep experiencing this nearly every day. We are competitors and peer reviewers for each others, but somehow, the membrane society manages to resist against the external pressure. If it is a competition, let it be a friendly and open one. Let us never forget that our links through membranes are more important than whatever project or paper. Many of those membrane links have grown out to be membrane friendships. Haven't we seen this in London, when the EMS celebrated blew out 30 candles, in the presence of many of the membranologists that we have cherished during three decades?
We probably all experience the same enthusiasm when we meet again with our membrane colleagues. It is probably the lack of envy and sneaky games that makes us different. Can you find the same in your own department?
Or in the discussions with your funding agencies? If not, let it be a motivation to cherish our membrane society. There should be competition, but let's compete with those who are not yet into membranes. They are the ones to be convinced. We should stick to top quality in research and development, and based on our strengths: tell the world about membranes. Let us keep helping each other in doing so.
In this strategy, the EMS is active in maintaining links of collaboration and friendship with the other membrane societies worldwide. A fruitful collaboration strategy has been developed with the MSA http://www.membrane-australasia.org and there is an active link with ASM (Aseanian Membrane Society) for the organization of ICOM http://icom2014.org . With NAMS http://www.membranes.org there are historical links - to be continued forever. The newcomer in the club of societies is the African Membrane Society http://www.sam-ptf.com/index.html , which is now being established with background support of EMS. Now is the time to find out about the vast potential of membrane technology in Africa, with conferences in Morocco (15-17 April) and in Bamako (3-8 August).
No retreat, no surrender: let's keep find out more about membranes - together.
Prof. Bart van der Bruggen
Internal surface of a PES membrane