History - Success stories - Berlin 1993

Fidel Costa (E)

First prize, alongside with Maria Cinta Salvany and Antoni Camprubí: The geological mapping of a neolithic mine. ISEF prize to Birmingham (Alabama).

After he finished his Earth Sciences degree at the University of Barcelona, he moved to Geneva to do a PhD in Petrology and Vulcanology. The Department of Mineralogy of the University of Geneva has a strong research interest in the geology of the South American Andes cordillera. He explains that "the subject of my thesis, which I completed last November, was to study a part of the Tatara-San Pedro Volcanic Complex in Southern Andes (central Chile). My tasks entailed mapping, stratigraphy, geochronology, petrography, mineralogy, and geochemistry. All those I utilised in order to study lava and rock fragments that are found within it".

He has been addressing issues such as the petrologic mechanisms that lead to the impressive diversity of rock compositions in the Andes. And many other: from the rates of growth and destruction of volcanic edifices to the amount of volatiles that can be found in rocks prior to eruption, and many other fundamental aspects about the variances and history of our current continents. He admits that, amongst his future plans, he may choose to go and establish in Chile for a while in order to undertake more detailed investigations.

Antoni Camprubí (E)

First prize alongside with Fidel Costa and María Cinta Salvany. The geological mapping of a Neolithic mine. ISEF prize to Birmingham (Alabama). Antoni reminds best his sheer happiness by the fact of having been chosen to represent Spain in Berlin. But we should make no mistake: "we were quite prepared concerning our work, we did even take with us a microscope from Barcelona, which meant we had to jump over loads of bureaucracy that was necessary to achieve things of the like". Before the judges arrived, they had the opportunity to talk to the other contestants in front of their stands. Antoni remembers that "they were kind of surprised about our field, I mean geology. Apparently this science is not very relevant in some other countries".

Anyway, he particularly recalls the difficulties of communicating in English, as well as the enjoyment and amusing situations it gave way to. He got on very well with Jan-Cristoph Puchta, a German participant that based his project on Fermat's last theorem.

When the judges finally entered the exhibition, the majority of them stood by Antoni, Fidel and Maria Cinta's stand: "it was very pleasant to speak to Jury members. And we did it for long enough to defend our research. It was clear to me that we did our best. I specially enjoyed the conversation with Mireille Polvé, a French geologist and member of the Jury".
Antoni thought that their project could have a prize because of the deep interest shown by the Jury: "during the award ceremony we were very excited about the possibility of getting that prize, and we actually saw we were not the only ones. The loudspeakers announced that one of the teams had won a second prize and they almost trampled underfoot the former president of Germany, Richard von Weiszäcker". Concerning accommodation, Antoni believes that it was just fantastic: "in the middle of a forest and in the middle of the most absolute silence. Very agreeable. Not to speak about food and beer! My digestive system has never been so happy". He enjoyed very much the nights out and the visit to a typical Berlin Cabaret: "we did not understand a single word, but Jean-Christoph would try hard to make a simultaneous translation". As an anecdote, Antoni refers to their visit to the palace of Sans-Souci in Postdam: "we were profoundly impressed about those premises and halls. We actually spent a long time admiring one of the rooms there, which was fully covered by enormous minerals. Frederick II the Great brought them back from his Russian campaigns during the 18th century. Noticing that we were stared at them a bit too much, the wardens visibly started to get a little bit nervous and they would not stop observing us".

After completing his thesis, he moved to South America and he is now working at the Instituto de Geología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma in México D. F. He is completing a PhD on mineral deposits, actually remaining within the same field of geology of the project he presented to the EU Contest. There are plain differences, though. Antoni focuses now on gold and silver veins. He and his team have spent a year and a half in charge of diverse projects assigned to them by Mexican officials, specifically the National Commission for Science and Technology.

Everything moved very fast after winning the EU Contest in Berlin. He got direct access to a postgraduate course at the Universidad de Barcelona by means of the Prize. After finishing that, with a cum laude mention, he began his PhD in Mexico. He admits that the Berlin Contest has been "a key event in my career. From then on, a chain of other events have led me to professionally undertake scientific research".

Eleonora Bonanomi (I)

Berlin 1993. Second prize alongside with Stefano Consonni and Mircko Signorelli: Use of Biogas in a Photosyinthetic Culture. The project aimed to show the benefits arising from the use of anaerobic methods of biological digestion processes. These processes deal with the treatment of urban waste, water and sewage.
Concerning the days of the EU Contest, she remembers that she and the rest of participants enjoyed "going around the city when we had free time. We spent many nights together in one room speaking about everything. As usual, lots of love stories started off or were about to start off".

She remembers, as well, her collaboration as a member of the organising team (Milano 1997) and as a member of the Alumni Jury (Thessaloniki 1999): "I hope one day I will be in the Jury. I am still in touch with the organisation that appoints the Italian team for the EU Contest and I help them out whenever they need it. I was a member of the Jury during the 7th International Environmental Project Olympiad held in Istanbul last June". She confesses she loved to speak to young students about the research they are doing.
Concerning the project about Biogas, she did not carry on with it because "it was impossible for me to study in Milano and, at the same time, to go to Bergamo, where there was the pilot plant". She actually thinks she should restart the project and try to develop "a model of the system to simulate its functioning within a water purification plant"

She has successfully completed her degree in Chemical Engineering (Politecnico di Milano) and now she is a PhD student in Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), doing research on distillation processes. She enjoys it because it gives her the opportunity, at the same time, to study for a Postgraduate Certificate in Information Technology (Nachdiplomstudium in Informationtechnik). The distillation processes are studied by means of a unit used in chemical, pharmaceutical and petroleum industry called "column". Distillation columns are used to separate the different compounds of a mixture, and there are many types of distillation columns, depending on the mixture we want to separate .