Centre européen de calcul atomique et moléculaire

CECAM - Centre européen de calcul atomique et moléculaire is a European Association founded in 1969. The aims of the association are to promote cooperation amongst European research organisations and their scientific communities in furthering research involving computationally intensive methods. It began as a laboratory in Orsay, a campus of the University of Paris, and moved to Lyon in the early 1990s.

The Early years of CECAM in Orsay

The laboratory was initiated in 1968 by Dr. Carl Moser, an American scientist naturalized in France. Moser was an associate of the well known French theoretical chemist Daudel, who was the Director of Centre Mechanique Ondulatoire in Rue de Maroc. Moser moved from Rue de Maroc to the Orsay campus, Université de Paris XI and established a laboratory which served to connect the rather isolated community of french computational physicists, chemists and biologists, with their homologues in the rest of Europe, UK and the USA. At the time the laboratory was set up, large-scale computational facilities were not readily available in most of Europe. Further, the concept of basic simulations was not highly acclaimed as there were many physicists who believed that pencil, paper, and brain-power were all that was needed for scientific creativity. However, Moser's background in quantum chemistry, his familiarity with the work of S. F. Boys, and his stint at Crystallography (at the Institut Pasteur) made him acutely aware of the need for computational approaches. Carl Moser's concept of the laboratory was unique, in that it had basically very few or no permanent members. Instead it ran a series of "workshops", directed by one or two invited scientists who remained at CECAM during the period of the workshop. These workshops could run from three months to a few weks or even a week, with twenty or more participants. This enabled CECAM to cover a kaleidescope of subjects, at a time when the approach of workshops was not well known, unlike today. Many distinguished scientists, like Walter Kohn, Lars Hedin, Martin Karplus, R. K. Nesbet, Michael Klein, Art Williams, Anees Rahman, Mark Rasolt, Gabor Somorjai and plasma physicists like Hans Griem, Don DuBois, Balaz Rosznyai, James Dufty and others were well known visitors to CECAM. A number of Russian scientists like Ginzburg also visited the laboratory. Many French scientists like Madam Marguerite Cornille, Michele Gupta, Francois Grimaldi, Francois Perrot, Madam Lebfevre and other friends of Moser were often seen at the laboratory. A few scientists like Prof. Chandre Dharma-wardana (NRCC), Drs. Gianni Jacucci, and Girolamo Ramuni (CNAM) and Charles Sommers were longer-term members, at various times in the mid-1970s. Wanda Andreoni was a post-doctoral fellow at the time, directed by Walter Kohn. But almost any one who was important in simulation physics in the USA or UK and Europe had visited the laboratory at some time or other. All such visitors were greeted by Marylise Calvie, the secretary of CECAM, and Carl Moser's three pet dogs (pugs) who also came to the laboratory everyday, at Bâtiment 506, 4èm etage, Campus d'Orsay.

Transfer to Lyon

Carl Moser had retired by 1992, and Giovanni Ciccotti, a computational physicist from Rome had become the Director. Also, by then the status of the laboratory with CNRS came to be reviewed. Thus the laboratory was moved to Lyon where Jean-Pierre Hansen, a well known simulation physicist and professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon in Lyon, facilitated the moved, with Ciccotti as the first director in Lyon. Since the move to Lyon, the laboratory has continued its role of supporting computationally oriented scientific research by its well attended workshop programs.


More details about CECAM, its scientific programs etc., may be found at the CECAM website..

CECAM is currently supported by


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