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Vol. 61. Issue S1.
Manuscripts on Advanced Ceramics dedicated to the memory of Professor Víctor M. Orera
Pages S4-S5 (January 2022)
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Vol. 61. Issue S1.
Manuscripts on Advanced Ceramics dedicated to the memory of Professor Víctor M. Orera
Pages S4-S5 (January 2022)
In memoriam
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Víctor M. Orera
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Javier LLorca
Scientific Director and Founder, IMDEA Materials Institute, Professor, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Fellow, European Mechanics Society and Materials Research Society, Spain
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Vol. 61. Issue S1

Manuscripts on Advanced Ceramics dedicated to the memory of Professor Víctor M. Orera

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Many people understand freedom as the ability to choose. While it is true that self-determination is at the root of liberty, the full power of freedom lies in our ability to create strong and stable bonds with people, ideas and institutions that go far beyond us. Friendship is one of the most important of these links. It begins with a common interest (do not tell me!, you are also crazy about …) and develops progressively over time as friends share more personal aspects of their lives, visions, fears, illusions and frustrations, while they look for understanding, advice and support. As the intimacy grows, two main features of the bond of friendship are strengthened, namely unselfishness and benevolence. Within this framework, you are able to see and appreciate the beauty in your friend, which acts as a force that pushes you towards better and higher goals. In fact, we have to be very grateful to our good friends because they make us better persons.

I met Víctor in the last decade of the past century. He was interested in measuring and understanding the mechanical properties of various types of eutectic ceramic materials manufactured in his laboratory. I was interested in how to make strong ceramics tough, particularly for high temperature applications. This common interest in the mechanical performance of ceramics led to a fruitful, interdisciplinary research collaboration lasting more than fifteen years. We met with each other often, exchanged viewpoints, co-authored a good number of papers (a coupled of them stood as “highly-cited” publications), attended conferences, wrote proposals, and discovered once again how difficult it is to make ceramics strong and tough. The common research interests eventually faded away as we moved onto different topics and other activities and the opportunities to meet become more limited, but the close friendship and the feeling of nearness remained. From this position, I had the privilege to enrich myself by contemplating the human and spiritual caliber of Víctor. He had deep and robust foundations in his family – Pilar, Alodia and Irene – and his Christian faith, and people around him were attracted by his natural leadership, which was rooted in always putting people and principles first. This type of management was independent of whether he was taking care of his last student or of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, as vice-president for Organization and Institutional Relationships. He always said what he thought, but he did it in a way that was difficult to feel hurt because you could see that his aim was to help people out. Moreover, Víctor had a wide range of interests and passions, and we often shared our viewpoints on hiking, science, management of scientific institutions, service to society, leadership, religion, and many other topics that come up between good friends. He was always proud of the accomplishments of those near to him, whether his wife and daughters or the researchers who had supported to grow and mature.

During the last years of his life, we talked mainly to each other over the phone or by email. On December 20th, 2019 I sent him a WhatsApp message of greetings for his birthday and received an answer that was obviously a good bye. So, I called him up the next morning, and we had our last long chat. We were both conscious of this fact, and I tried to keep calm. He realized that he was hiking the last steps of this life, was happy with what he had accomplished during his tenure here and was looking forward to the next step. In this last chat, as it had always been the case, Víctor was an inspiring example, a friend that helps you find the right answer to the many difficult questions and situations that you find in your life. I have benefitted from many good people and circumstances during my scientific career, and my friendship with Víctor has been a leading one. May he rest in peace but his example as a person and scientist remain as an inspiration to all of us.

Víctor and I during a cultural visit in Kyoto in 2006. We were attending the 2nd International Workshop on directionally solidified eutectic ceramic oxides.

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