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Historical Development

First considerations concerning the establishment of some kind of international cooperation in the field of polymer networks arose in the early seventies during numerous contacts between the Centre de Recherches sur les Macromolecules CNRS (now Institut Charles Sadron) in Strasbourg and the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry CSAS in Prague (Benoit, Hild, Rempp, Dusek). However, it was not until 1974, during the Faraday Discussion of the Royal Society of Chemistry in Norwich on Gels and Gelling Systems, that a group of participants (Allen, Burchard, Dusek, Gordon, Herz, Hild, Rempp, Ross-Murphy, Stepto, Ziabicki, and perhaps some others) considered the foundation of an international organization. The ideas took a more definite shape during the IUPAC Microsymposium "Crosslinking and Networks" in Prague later in 1974.

Officially, the international organization started its activities in 1975. This was also the year of its first meeting, taking place jointly at CRM Strasbourg (H. Benoit, G. Hild) and Freiburg (W. Burchard, H.J. Cantow). The final decision to form a group (Allen, Benoit, Dusek, Gordon, Hild) was taken in October 1975 and the organization was given the name Polymer Network Club. It was decided that no formal structure of the Club was necessary and that the business would be run by a Secretary. G. Hild was asked to serve as Secretary to the Club. H. Benoit tried to get recognition of the Club by the Macromolecular Division of IUPAC. However, the possible sense of exclusiveness of a "club" was objected to and, therefore, later (1977) "Club" was changed to "Group". Moreover, it was felt that the proposed activities of the Group did not fit well the usual activities of a IUPAC Working Party and it was recommended that IUPAC sponsorships be sought individually for conferences, or that collaborative projects be included in existing IUPAC Working Parties. Eventually, a separate Working Party on Polymer Networks was launched in 1987 under the chairmanship of R.F.T. Stepto.

In 1975-6, the PNG started with about 40 participants from France, United Kingdom, Federal Republic of Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and The Netherlands. Over the years, the number of members (now more than 1000) and their activities have continued to increase and it was felt that some more formal and efficient organizational structure would be useful. In 1986, the first Chairman (R.F.T. Stepto) and Vice-Chairman (K. Dusek) were elected during the Elsinore meeting and G. Hild was confirmed in his position of PNG Secretary. It was decided that the Chairman would serve for four years and the office would then be taken over by the Vice-Chairman. More recently, the post of Treasurer was created.

The above text was originally composed by the first two PNG Chairs, K. Dusek and R. F. T. Stepto.

The complete list of the PNG Chairs and their term are given below:

  • 1986-1990   Robert .F.T. Stepto

  • 1990-1994   Karel.Dusek

  • 1994-1998   Ole Kramer

  • 1998-2002   Walther Burchard

  • 2002-2006   Erik Geissler

  • 2006-2010   Eric J. Amis

  • 2010-2014   Ferenc Horkay

  • 2014-2018   Mitsuhiro Shibayama

1984 PNG meeting in Manchester, UK
1984 PNG meeting in Manchester, UK

1986 PNG meeting in Elsinore, Denmark
1986 PNG meeting in Elsinore, Denmark

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