Meeting report

Highlights of ACA 2002

San Antonio, TX – May 2002

[ACA logo]
[Microscopists] Electron microscopists
The San Antonio meeting featured symposia on electron diffraction crystallography and electron microscopy occasioned by the presentation of the Patterson award to D. Dorset and an ACA Transactions Symposium on powder diffraction, organized by A. Clearfield. The symposia reflect the multidisciplinary ACA mission to support all investigations into the structure of matter and brought many new faces to the meeting. The electron microscopists and powder diffractionists are mounting efforts to found new ACA SIGs .

At the Awards banquet, Wood Scientific Writing Award winner Ira Flatow regaled us with a spirited description of the role of experimentation in developing his inimitable journalistic style.

[Diffractionists] Powder diffractionists
Latin American scientists attending the meeting explored ways that the ACA, as an IUCr regional affiliate, could help strengthen crystallography in Latin America. Signatures are being solicited from current ACA members in Latin America to form a new SIG, and a new fund has been established, the assets of which will help advance the Latin American initiative, and provide partial support for Latin American students to attend future ACA meetings.

[Electron diffractionists] Electron diffractionists
Five applications from groups offering to host future ACA Summer schools were reviewed. In 2003 the ACA will support a course in small molecule fundamentals at Indiana U. of Pennsylvania, and a more extensive course, primarily centered on macromolecular crystallography, at the Illinois Inst. of Technology in Chicago.

[Council] Latin American crystallographers with ACA council members
In San Antonio, the recent explosive growth of corporate crystallography produced a challenge to our scientific and intellectual health. Industry-based speakers invited to discuss their work were replaced by 'company' personnel because the invited speakers were no longer associated with a particular company. Platform and informal discussions were compromised by constraints arising from threatened hostile legal action based on what many found to be a miscarriage of patent law. While admitting that much remains to be learned, these examples represent new and highly unwelcome pathologies that threaten to disrupt broad aspects of scientific exchange. It is essential that we minimize the very real threat of intellectual nuclear winter.

Charlie Carter