Buscar en
Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Cerámica y Vidrio
Toda la web
Inicio Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Cerámica y Vidrio Víctor Manuel Orera Clemente – Biographical sketch of a friend and colleague
Journal Information
Vol. 61. Issue S1.
Manuscripts on Advanced Ceramics dedicated to the memory of Professor Víctor M. Orera
Pages S2-S3 (January 2022)
Share
Share
Download PDF
More article options
Vol. 61. Issue S1.
Manuscripts on Advanced Ceramics dedicated to the memory of Professor Víctor M. Orera
Pages S2-S3 (January 2022)
In memoriam
Open Access
Víctor Manuel Orera Clemente – Biographical sketch of a friend and colleague
Visits
470
Pablo J. Alonso
Royal Academy of Exact, Physical, Chemical and Natural Sciences of Zaragoza, Spain
This item has received

Under a Creative Commons license
Article information
Special issue
This article is part of special issue:
Vol. 61. Issue S1

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

More info
Full Text

When I completed my bachelor's degree, Prof. Casas invited me to join his laboratory as part of a small, newly formed research group comprising Dr. Alcalá and a young student who had just begun his PhD. That student was Víctor Orera, and, as our boss was absent, it fell to him to welcome me and describe their scientific activities with his proverbial optimism. That is how we met, and it marked the beginning of a close scientific collaboration and a firm lifelong friendship. Even when our professional interests later diverged, we still continued to exchange our points of view, safe in the knowledge that we could rely on each other to be a loyal, constructive, and discreet critic. This introduction, that I do not want to extend, reveals how hard it is for me to comment on the man Víctor was.

Víctor was born on 20 December 1950 in the city of Castellón de la Plana where his civil-servant parents had been posted. At the age of six, he came to Zaragoza, the city he was linked with from then on and where, in the main, he enjoyed a long and successful career. With family roots in Aragon and captivated by the Pyrenees from an early age, he felt Aragonese through and through, despite his universal outlook: he realised the pursuit of knowledge, which he dedicated his life to, could be no other way.

The eldest of four children, Víctor was always brimming with life and optimism that was only tempered by his extreme generosity and ingrained sense of family and social responsibility. Sincere, loyal, and demanding of himself and others, mountains and research were his two passions. An idealist with great social sensitivity, he believed honest scientists should not work just for their own curriculum and prestige and instead should work on key areas for society. So that is exactly what he did.

After completing his secondary education at the Calasancio PP Escolapios school, he successfully completed his Degree in Physics, specialising in Optics, at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Zaragoza in 1972, obtaining both an Extraordinary Degree Award and the Daza Valdés Final Degree Award by the Spanish Optical Society. That same year he began his research, supervised by Dr. Alcalá Aranda, an activity he shared with teaching at the German School of Zaragoza. When he obtained a research staff training grant in 1973 and was appointed teaching assistant of optics, he was able to work full-time on his doctoral thesis in physics entitled: “Study of the formation and evolution of large aggregates of defects in fluorite crystals”. He defended his thesis in 1976 and obtained the Extraordinary PhD Award from the University of Zaragoza.

At a time when leaving Spain was necessary for a change of scene and to join in cutting-edge research in his field, he stayed at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Materials Development Division in Harwell, United Kingdom, for ten months as a visiting researcher while working on his PhD. A postdoctoral visit to the Solid State Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the United States with Dr. Yok Chen from 1978 to 1979 exerted a profound influence on his scientific development. Later, he returned to ORNL where he was an external scientific consultant from 1986 to 1987.

After passing a public competitive examination, he became an assistant lecturer at the University of Zaragoza in 1978, where he continued his teaching and research at the Faculty of Sciences until he was appointed a scientific researcher at the CSIC (Superior Council of Scientific Research) in 1988. He arrived at the ICMA (Institute of Materials Science of Aragon), recently created as a CSIC-University of Zaragoza joint centre—he was one of its proponents—at a time when Spanish research into materials science was on the rise. Two years later (1990) he was promoted to research professor.

First at the University of Zaragoza and then at the CSIC, Víctor knew how to combine first-rate worldwide research with management roles in research institutions. He was vice dean of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Zaragoza (1984–86) at key times during the democratic transformation of Spanish universities and faculties. He was the director of the ICMA (1991–94), scientific coordinator of the Materials Area of the CSIC (1994–96), a member of the CSIC Scientific Committee (1996–2004), institutional coordinator of the CSIC in Aragon (2005) and then CSIC vice-president of organisation and institutional relationships from December 2005 to March 2006, when he resigned due to illness. After recovering, he became the CSIC representative at the European Energy Research Alliance, JP–H2 (2010–14), and CSIC institutional coordinator in Aragon (2011–15).

Magnanimous in his undertakings, he was actively involved in the scientific community as: vice-president of the Specialised Solid State Physics Group (GEFES) of the Spanish Royal Society of Physics (1984–86), member of the Management Committee of the RIS Project (1997–99), vice-president of the Spanish Society of Materials (SEMAT, 1997–2000), and member of the Physical and Engineering Steering Committee of the European Science Foundation (1997–2000). He was also an external evaluator of the Materials Program of the Energy Department of the United States (from 2003) and a member of the advisory committee for innovation and knowledge transfer of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (2011–14).

His work was recognised with several distinctions: Fellow of the American Physical Society (1993), Domingo Martínez Foundation Award (1999), “Epsilon de Oro” from the Spanish Electroceramics Society (2005), Honorary Patron of the Foundation for the Development of Hydrogen Technologies in Aragon (2008), and Fellow of the European Ceramic Society (2017).

Víctor always viewed research as a team activity performed by people with complementary skills. Ceramics processing and fuel cells were lines of research that he led for years in the Excellence Group of the Government of Aragon, LPM, Laser Processing of Materials (2003–10), and in the Consolidated Group, ProCaCEF, Processing and Characterisation of Structural and Functional Ceramics (2011–16).

Unanimously voted in as a full member of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical, Chemical and Natural Sciences of Zaragoza, he read his inaugural address on 14 June 2007, receiving medal number 39 and joining the physics section. This is where he worked, generously and effectively lending his time and experience, until he died on 28 January 2020.

Previously, at the end of 2015, when he turned 65, he retired to pass his baton onto the next generation. However, his scientific activity was not affected as he became ad honorem professor of the CSIC. During this last period, his former colleagues were able to continue counting on his generous contributions. It was at this time that, in collaboration with his wife, History Professor and Researcher Pilar Utrilla, he began studying prehistoric pigments using spectroscopic techniques.

Article options
Tools