Adios Juan Antonio!
Dr. Juan Antonio Rubio, Director General of CIEMAT, the Spanish research centre for energy, environment and associated technologies, very sadly passed away on January 17th, following a courageous fight against a fatal disease over several months. He was a strongly committed and passionate scientist. He worked tirelessly up to the last, leading CIEMAT and contributing to the development of science and technology.
Juan Antonio Rubio was one of the key Spanish figures in European Science and Technology. He was a man gifted with a rare combination of talents. He was
always optimistic and endowed with a clear vision; a pioneer seeking out and exploring new scientific opportunities in many fields; a man never afraid to take on the many challenges posed by these opportunities. At the same time he was sufficiently pragmatic to find solutions to the real social, economic and political obstacles that allowed him to turn his dreams into successful projects. Amongst his many achievements he will be remembered as the man who led Spain to join CERN and, at the same time, consolidated the development of particle physics R&D in Spain. He also contributed greatly to the definition of the Spanish Fusion programme.
In more recent times he devoted much of his efforts to the development of a variety of different, sustainable energy sources, long before this became fashionable. In this context, he had a very balanced view of the importance of research on all sources of energy, concentrating in all cases on enhancing performance and minimising associated waste and environmental impact. He provided strong support to programmes aimed at developing advanced solar technologies and other renewable sources and he also initiated Spanish efforts in the field of carbon capture and storage aimed at minimising the impact of fossil fuel combustion.
Finally, Juan Antonio Rubio was deeply involved, both as a researcher and Director General of CIEMAT, in the development of concepts and technologies for the transmutation and reduction of nuclear wastes, acting as chairman of the governing board of the largest EU project in this field (EUROTRANS).
Deeply convinced as he was that any future European and global energy mix requires both renewable and nuclear energy sources, Juan Antonio Rubio made a strong and lively contribution to various fora devoted to these technologies. At the time of his death he was an active member of the Euratom Scientific and Technical Committee (STC), the governing board of Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP), the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA), the Spanish Nuclear Society (SNE) and many others. He also personally played a key role in the Spain’s participation in several of the largest European demonstration projects in these fields, encouraging, as Director of CIEMAT, the participation of other Spanish companies and organisations.
Juan Antonio Rubio was also able to maintain his personal scientific activity at the same level of excellence, even during periods of more intense management duties. At the same time, he always paid attention to the social implications of scientific research. Thus, he always considered it a must to achieve the best possible return to society of any R&D investment, playing again a pioneering role both as director of the CERN Technology Transfer Division and as Director General of CIEMAT. In this context, he was particularly sensitive to the need to extend research opportunities to scientists in poorer countries and to use scientific collaboration as a bridge towards wider international cooperation. He devoted more than 15 years to strengthening scientific cooperation between Europe and his beloved Latin America. He was also particularly interested in exchanges between the Mediterranean countries, from both the north and south, and between Spain and her closer European neighbours.
Juan Antonio Rubio was a cultivated man and an avid reader, with a warm personality who took good care of those working closely with him. I was fortunate enough to spend more than twenty-five years working with or close to him and I will never forget his kind but firm character, his innate ability to lead his team, always filling them with hope, optimism and confidence in the ultimate success of all his enterprises. The scientific community has lost an inspiring figure and we, who were close to him, have lost a wonderful friend. For all of us Juan Antonio will be difficult to replace.
Nuclear Fission Division of CIEMAT