On Tuesday 15 November, at 4:00 pm, the Aula Magna of the Faculty of Biology will host a tribute to Mercè Durfort , who left us last April. She was Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Barcelona from 1985 and the first Catalan scientist to write a doctoral thesis on cellular ultrastructure.
The ceremony will be opened by the rector of the UB, Joan Guàrdia, with the participation of the dean of the Faculty of Biology, Rosina Gironès; the president of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona (RACAB), Jordi Isern; the emeritus professor of the UB Joan Jofre, former president of the RACAB; the director of the Section of Biology and Medicine of the Institute for Catalan Studies (IEC), Pere Puigdomènech; the UB emeritus professor and member of IEC, Xavier Llimona; the president of the Catalan Society of Biology, Marc-Martí Renom, and the president of the Catalan Institution of Natural History (ICHN), Jordina Belmonte.
The tribute, promoted by the UB, the RACAB and the IEC, will close with the unveiling of the plaque that will give Mercè Durfort’s name to the third building of the Faculty of Biology.
Mercè Durfort: teaching vocation and commitment to the University
Mercè Durfort (1943-2022) was a leading expert in the study of the histopathology of marine bivalve molluscs and crustaceans, the reproductive biology of invertebrates and some vertebrate species, bioaccumulation in molluscs and crustaceans, and the determination of parasitic protozoa (especially microsporidia). With a degree in Biology from the UB, she was a student of distinguished professors such as the ecologist Ramon Margalef, the geneticist Antoni Prevosti, and the botanist Oriol de Bolòs. She was the first woman to join the RACAB and the second to join the IEC, where she presided the Biological Sciences Section from 1994 to 2000. She was a member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia (2000), the Royal Academy of Doctors of Spain (2007) and an honorary member of the ICHN. In 2002 the Catalan Government awarded her the Narcís Monturiol Medal for scientific and technological merit, and in 2004 she received the Saint George’s Cross "in recognition of her academic career and the prestige of her research work, mainly focused on the gametogenesis of molluscs and crustaceans and on the histopathology and bioaccumulative processes of marine bivalves of interest in aquaculture".
In 2012 she received the CerTest BIOTEC Award for the best scientific image of the year from the Spanish Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM) and the company Eppendorf for her photographic work Antigua estrategia para el cambio climático, obtained using scanning electron microscopy techniques at the Scientific and Technological Centres of the UB (CCiTUB). Mercè Durfort was also a pioneer in the dissemination of scientific knowledge, through the publication of specialised books and the production of educational videos, leading and innovative initiatives in the field of cytology and histology in the country. She also worked as a translator of scientific reference works and other materials to support teaching.
In October 2013, Mercè Durfort received an institutional tribute in the Aula Magna of the Faculty of Biology, an event in which the participants recalled her great commitment to the university institution and teaching, as well as highlighting her generosity, charisma and capacity for work.
Durfort also gave the inaugural lecture of the 2014-2015 academic year, under the title "The beginnings of electron microscopy in Catalonia", during which he recalled the driving role of the University of Barcelona in the development of electron microscopy in Catalonia.