2019 ETSF Young Researchers Meeting


The Young Researchers’ Meeting (YRM) of the European Theoretical Spectroscopy Facility (ETSF) is an annual meeting of the first stage researchers (MSc and PhD students and Postdoctoral researchers) who work on the novel theoretical and computational approaches to study electronic and optical properties of materials.

ETSF YRM 2019 took place in Donostia/San Sebastián (Spain), a lovely city that lies between a sandy bay and green mountains, offering great landscape, interesting historical inheritance and recognizable Basque cuisine.

The conference itself took place at the Carlos Santamaría Center, located roughly 1km away from the Villa Aladi, where participants were accommodated.

The aim of this meeting was to provide researchers at the beginning of their careers the opportunity to share their work, introduce themselves to state-of-the-art theoretical methods for describing properties of materials, exchange ideas and network with other researchers at the similar stage of their career.

ETSF YRM 2019 had five oral sessions. Topics of all sessions were on ab-initio approaches of modelling material properties. First session was on the Ground state of the system and second was on Excited states of atomic, molecular and solid state systems. Third session was on Vibrational properties of materials. Fourth session was on Multi-scale simulation. Finally, fifth session was on Highly correlated systems.

The invited talks were held mainly at the beginning of each session, with the duration of 1h each, and with 15min extra dedicated to the questions and discussion. Contribution talks followed, with 25min for a talk and 5min for discussion allocated to each presenter. Such schedule gave the participants a possibility for the common exchange of ideas and possible comments.

Conference has also hosted poster session where some of participants had the opportunity to show their work in graphical representation and to explain it to other researchers in a less formal way.

On the other side, in the Industry session presenters were ex-researchers who transferred from academia to industry. They shared their experience with other participants and provided them with insight into the needs and expectations of the world out of academia concerning physicists and materials scientists.

The conference was attended by 47 participants, exclusively young scientists, of which 9 keynote speakers, 23 contributed talks and 10 posters. A detailed description of the programme can be found the YRM 2019 website, whereas one can find a short review in the following:

  • The first day of the conference, Monday (3rd June) was opened with the introductory lecture held by Manuel dos Santos Días who gave a very nice introduction to the field of quantum materials, from the theoretical methods to the selected examples. Further, the same day was dedicated to the DFT ground state session, with Aron Cohen as a keynote speaker with a talk on the Exact functional of density functional theory, and how its understanding can guide a future improvement of the density functional approximation for an accurate description of physics and chemistry. The day was closed by a Scientific Speed Dating, an interactive fun way to get to know better other participants, exchange scientific interests and background.
  • Tuesday (4th June) was the Highly correlated systems’ day, which was opened by an interesting speech of Aldo Isidori on Hund’s metals and Janus effect in multiorbital systems. He provided some insight in how multiorbital Hubbard models differ from the single-band prototype model that has been widely used to describe cuprates, and moreover, how the characterization of the Hund’s metal state is connected with the charge disproportionation which has been observed in the chromates and proposed to play a role in iron-based superconductors. The second invited talk was held by Andrea Droghetti, who spoke about the Charge and spin transport in correlated nano-junctions. In his talk he presented the electronic structure code Smeagol, and further he focused on the so-called piezoresistive devices comprising SmSe; in such devices an accurate description of electronic correlation in f-orbitals is needed to predict the transport properties. The second day concluded with a Poster session.
  • On Wednesday (5th June) the session of the Excited states of atomic, molecular and solid state systems took place, starting with Mario Zapata Herrera’s talk on Amplification of magneto-optical activity via hybridization with dark plasmons in magnetoplasmonic nanocavities, providing a new and fresh path that can revitalize the research and the applications of magnetoplasmonics to active nanophotonics and flat optics. Later, the second keynote talk was given by Elisa Rebolini, who spoke about linear-response time-dependent density-functional theory and went beyond it for some of its pathological cases, such as in double excitations and magnetic excitations. The very last speech was given by Victoria Rutckaia and it was different from the talks held that far on YRM. Namely, she presented the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship and gave an overview of the related application, submission and selection process.
  • Ion Errea opened the Thursday’s (6th June) session on Vibrational properties of materials. In his lecture he presented the method and its several applications in superconducting hydrides, charge-density-wave systems, and thermoelectric materials. Moreover, on the same day Sara Laporte held a keynote lecture on the Multiscale simulations, speaking about the molecular mechanisms of color expression in anthocyanins, indicating a potentially wider use of applied methodology in predicting and understanding optical absorption in organic systems. At the end of the day there were two talks dedicated to the Industry Session, held by Christina Muños Menéndez, from the Bardehle Pagenberg Office, and Asier Vicente Rojo, from They shared their ideas and motivation for the academia to out-of-academia transition, and the potential applications of the skills acquired in the scientific environment.
  • The Multiscale simulations session was extended to the last day, Friday (7th June), with the invited talk given by Miguel Caro. After briefly motivating the need for multiscaling in atomistic modeling, he gave a talk on Multiscale atomistic simulations in the wake of machine learning.

The students’ satisfaction survey results show that the programme quality and speakers’ adaptation to the theme and activity was evaluated as ~4.5 (in range 1-5), interest in the current topics got 4.7, whereas the general assessment of the activity of the faculty was evaluated as 4.8. Slightly lower yet solid mark, 4.0, was given to the dissemination of activity of faculty, and ~4.2 to the dissemination of activity of the management. The support of the online platform got mark 4.5, the processing of organization and reception was awarded 4.6, and, finally, the conference management got perfect 5.0 in the general assessment of the activity.

The overall impression during and after the conference was that the participants were satisfied with the organization and mainly the idea of having a conference such as YRM. There was a high responsiveness of the participants in following the lectures. Moreover, many participants showed the interest in exchanging ideas and possibly creating future collaborations.

Additional suggestions given by the participants were the following:

  • Topics to be more developed in the subsequent edition:
    • Strongly correlated materials;
    • DFT and beyond DFT methods;
    • Surface physics;
    • more on Ground state DFT;
    • topics on Magnetism.
  • Things to be improved:
    • more communication before the conference;
    • more coordination among the invited speakers;
    • more focus on the introductory material to each topic;
    • “I wouldn’t know any improvement; it was perfect, especially coffee breaks and the schedule, which left room for spontaneous changes.” 🙂


On the other side, the main difficulty that we experienced while organizing this conference was getting in touch with other young researchers, due to the lack of some newer mailing list(s). However, this conference did create a network of YRM participants willing to set new improved methods in order to improve the future organization.

For the full programme of the conference and additional information, please visit conference web page.

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