Institut des Sciences Chimiques de Rennes

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A bit of History !

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The life of an Institute results from the dynamism of the current action ; it also relies on its culture and on its history. To understand the real nature of the ISCR, its organization, its approach of modern science, it is necessary to go back a bit …

The origins

photo 1 - Vue Sud-Ouest de la Faculté des Sciences
photo 1 - Vue Sud-Ouest de la Faculté des Sciences
Photo 2 - Vue Coté Est de la Faculté des Sciences, avec la Gare de Viarmes
Photo 2 - Vue Coté Est de la Faculté des Sciences, avec la Gare de Viarmes

The official creation of the Faculty of Science of Rennes dates back to 1840. It is located then in the current Rennes City hall, in the right wing, on the first floor, with Faustino Malaguti holding the first Chair of Chemistry.The Faculty will leave to the Palais de l’Université (now the Museum of the Fine Arts of Rennes) in 1856 and finally in its new building on place Pasteur, built from 1888 till 1898 by the architects Jean-Baptiste Martenot and Emmanuel Le Ray (Pictures 1 et 2). The Faculty of Science expands at the beginning of the 20th century with a first extension between the main building and the Viarmes tram station which served the railway Rennes-Liffré-Fougères until 1949. (Picture 3).

Photo 3 - Vue coté Est de la Faculté des Sciences après un premier agrandissement
Photo 3 - Vue coté Est de la Faculté des Sciences après un premier agrandissement

The School of Chemical Engineers is created in 1919 on the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce, and is located in the rue Kleber, in front of the Faculty of Science. Following a rapprochement with the Faculty, it becomes the ICUR (Institute of Chemistry of the University of Rennes) in 1945 supervised by François Salmon-Legagneur who also occupies the chair of Chemistry of the Faculty until 1968.

Photo 4 - Les laboratoires de l'Ecole de Chimie rue Kleber
Photo 4 - Les laboratoires de l’Ecole de Chimie rue Kleber

The School settles down in its new buildings on the quai Dujardin in 1953, after the destruction of the Viarmes station.

The development

Henri Le Moal (1912–2001) is a striking character of post-war period. He defends his thesis in 1952 under the supervision of Salmon-Legagneur. Appointed as a lecturer, he creates the laboratory of Structural Physical Chemistry with A. Foucault, R. Carrié and J. Meinnel. Elected as dean in 1958, he is then appointed as Vice-chancellor of the Academy (Regional education authority) of Rennes in 1960. His period at the rectorate marks the history of the universities of Rennes because it is at the origin of the construction projects of the campuses of Beaulieu, Villejean and in the center.

Photo 5 - Vue du campus de Beaulieu en construction, avec le long bâtiment 10 au 1er plan
Photo 5 - Vue du campus de Beaulieu en construction, avec le long bâtiment 10 au 1er plan

Thus, in the autumn 1966, the whole Rennes chemistry moves on the Campus of Beaulieu in the brand new Building 10 (picture 5). The IUT (University Institute of Technology) and the ENSCR (Chemical Engineering School) opens their doors one year later. In 1986, the ENSCR will acquire the status of Public institution with administrative autonomy (EPA), connected with the University of Rennes 1. The INSA (National Institut for Applied Sciences) is created in 1966 on the Campus of Beaulieu, with two teams in chemistry, in metallurgy (Debruigne) and in solid state chemistry (Le Cerf).

The concern to associate the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) with the research in the universities leads to the creation on Rennes of the ERA then the UA (Associated Units) or URA such as :

  • The ERA 389 then UA 704 (Laboratory of Structural Physical Chemistry), which gathers organic chemists and physicists of the solid state as M. Carrié, A. Foucault, J. Meinnel
  • the UA 439 (Laboratory of Electrochemistry), with C. Moinet, A. Tallec, J. Simonet...
  • The ERA 477 then UA 415 (Organometallic Chemistry Laboratory), with R. Dabard (1974-1985) then P. Dixneuf (1986-1999)
  • the UA 254 which gathers the solid state chemists (J. Prigent, D. Grandjean, M. Sergeant). It will separate in 1992 in URA 1495 (Laboratory of Cristal Chemistry) with R. Guérin, D. Grandjean, J.-Y. Saillard, D. Louer, and in URA 1496 (Glasses and Ceramics) with J. Lucas.
  • the UA 482 ( Organic Chemistry laboratory) in the ENSCR with R. Grée, …

The transformation of the UA/URAs in CNRS UMRs (Mixed Research Units) shuffles the cards and leads in 1996 to the creation of 5 new UMRs on the Rennes site :

  • the UMR 6509 (Organometallics and Catalysis : Molecular Chemistry and Electrochemistry), managed successively by P. Dixneuf and C. Bruneau
  • the UMR 6510 (Organic Synthesis and Electrosynthesis), managed by M. Vaultier then M. Blanchard-Desce
  • the UMR 6511 (Solid State and Molecular Inorganic Chemistry) managed by D. Grandjean, J.-F. Halet then L. Ouahab
  • the UMR 6512 (Glasses and Ceramics) managed by J. Lucas, then J.-L. Adam.
  • The UMR 6052 (Synthesis and Biomolecular Activation), managed by R. Grée then J.-C. Guillemin, on the ENSCR site.

This evolution involves also a significant development of the teams and room is lacking in the Building 10, with already already Organometallic Chemistry and Electrochemistry located on the North of the campus of Beaulieu in the Building 24. On the initiative of D. Grandjean is then built the Building 10B (picture 6),

Photo 6 - Vue en 2000 du bâtiment 10B, construit au Nord-Ouest du désormais Bâtiment 10A
Photo 6 - Vue en 2000 du bâtiment 10B, construit au Nord-Ouest du désormais Bâtiment 10A

which will be delivered in January, 1998 and when are going to settle down a part of the UMR 6511 (Solid Chemistry and Inorganic Molecules), a part of the UMR 6512 (Glasses and Ceramics) and a research team in Mechanics of Glasses, LARMAUR. The building also offers classrooms, meeting rooms and an amphitheater of 90 places, which will take the name of D. Grandjean after his death in 2009.
A few years later, on the initiative of P.H. Dixneuf and with the desire to bring chemistry on a single site, the Building 10C was built (picture 7) in the South of the Building 10B.

Photo 7 - Le Bâtiment 10C, avant l'aménagement du rez-de-jardin
Photo 7 - Le Bâtiment 10C, avant l’aménagement du rez-de-jardin

. It will welcome from March, 2001 the UMR 6509 (Organometallic and Biological Chemistry) and the electrochemists of the UMR 6510 (Organic Synthesis and Electrosynthesis). The garden level of the Building 10C, initially empty, will be equipped with two big laboratories and offices. (picture 8).

Photo 8 - Le Bâtiment 10C, après l'aménagement du rez-de-jardin
Photo 8 - Le Bâtiment 10C, après l’aménagement du rez-de-jardin

The consolidation

Le logo ICR en 2000
Le logo ICR en 2000

In 2000, on the initiative of P.H. Dixneuf, a federative structure ICR (Institute of Chemistry of Rennes) is created associating the University, the ENSCR, the INSA and the CNRS (FR 2108). THE ICR will be successively managed by P.H. Dixneuf, A. Perrin, M. Vaultier and J.-Y. Saillard. THE ICR gathers then the 5 UMRs above and the EA 3887 (Laboratory of Chemistry and Process Engineering, ENSCR-UR1), joined in 2004 by the EA 2620 (Research group in Metallurgy, INSA). THE ICR gathers then approximately 230 permanent staffs among which 160 researchers, associated professors and professors, representing more than 80 % of the chemical research forces in Brittany region. It fully played its role of coordinating, facilitating and developing the potential of research and training in chemistry in Rennes, thus preparing the emergence of the ISCR. Indeed, in November, 2004, the University of Rennes 1 was informed that it was a part of five institutions of higher education chosen to experiment a project of renovated contract with the CNRS for an implementation on January 1st, 2006. By the end of 2004, the various UR1 research structures associated with the CNRS were asked to consider the possibility of regrouping existing laboratories to form larger units. The discussions initiated at the Institut de Chimie de Rennes (ICR) resulted in the decision in February 2005 to work on a project of a single large chemistry unit regrouping all the components of the ICR. This project was welcomed very favorably at the beginning of 2005 by the chemists of the site. The « Sciences Chimiques de Rennes » project was developed collectively during the first half of 2005 on the basis of a federal structure in which teams, smaller in size and scientifically much more homogeneous than the old units, have a considerable autonomy, while the structure gives its management the means to carry out a real site policy.

Le 1er logo SCR en 2006
Le 1er logo SCR en 2006

THE UMR 6226 « Chemical Sciences of Rennes » is created on January 1st, 2006 on the outlines of the ICR, with the exception of a part of the UMR 6510. Jean-Yves Saillard headed it with J.L. Adam as deputy director, this team being renewed for the following four-year contract 2008-2011. THE UMR has four supervisory legal entities, the UR1, the CNRS, the ENSCR and the INSA. It gathers then 222 permanent employees, among whom 46 CNRS researchers, 114 professors (teaching and research) and 62 engineers and technicians. It is organized into 11 research teams each of them gathering between 10 and 30 permanent employees. An important point of the scientific politics of the unit is the strengthening of the structuring activities, both from the point of view of the research and of the other common activities (prevention and safety, continuing education, communication, scientific animation) or of the management of technical platforms.

Le 2éme logo SCR en 2009
Le 2éme logo SCR en 2009

In 2010, a EA 4090 team associated with the University of Rennes 1 and the Faculty of Pharmacy (Lichenic substances and Photoprotection, J. Boustie) and located on the Villejean campus, joins the UMR, increasing to 12 the number of research teams.
In 2012, a new contract, now a five-year contract, is set up under the direction of Jean-Luc Adam, with Marc Fourmigué as Deputy Director, with the transformation of the SCR name into ISCR (Institut des Sciences Chimiques de Rennes ). The UMR is then organized into 11 scientific teams and a cluster of Administrative, Technical and Scientific Resources (PRATS)

Le logo ISCR depuis 2012
Le logo ISCR depuis 2012

. The unit then integrates the CPM team (Chemistry and Molecular Photonics, ex UMR 6510), completing the regrouping of all the academic forces in chemistry on the Rennes site.

The new contract 2017-2021 is set up on January 1st, 2017, with Marc Fourmigué (DR CNRS) as director, Maryline Guilloux-Viry (Professor) as deputy director and Yvelise Raskin at the head of the Administration. The UMR counts from now on 8 research teams and more than 280 permanent employees.

Marc Fourmigué
Rennes, Janvier 2017

Sources :
1) B. Gallon, D. Bernard. Histoire de la Chimie à la Faculté des Sciences de Rennes de 1840 à 1966
2) au 15/12/2016
3) J.-Y. Saillard. 2007. Dossier de demande de reconnaissance d’une unité de recherche auprès du ministère et du CNRS pour 2008-2011.

Thnks to André Perrin, Christiane Perrin, Jean-Yves Saillard, Claude Hervieu