Letter from the President

Letter from the President

'Never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee' - John Donne

[Bill Duax]The devastating tsunami reminds us all of how fragile life is and how vulnerable we all are. We are especially concerned about the impact of the tragedy upon crystallographers in the countries directly affected by the disaster.

The US community was stunned to learn that among those lost were Muttaiya Sundaralingam and his wife, Indrani, who were attending a family reunion in Sri Lanka. The many students and colleagues that Sunda touched during his long and illustrious career mourn his passing.

At the Budapest meeting of the Executive Committee of the IUCr, the many excellent nominations submitted by the National Committees for officers and membership of the IUCr Executive Committee were reviewed. The Executive Committee as a whole felt a responsibility to select a subset of the nominations to be placed on their official list of nominees. The list of nominees proposed by the Executive Committee was sent to all National Committees on November 9, 2004. The list appears on page 2. According to the bylaws, additional nominations for all positions (other than Past President) may be made by the delegates to the Congress. The procedures to be followed are clearly defined in the bylaws.

A summary of other matters addressed by the Executive Committee in Budapest, masterfully prepared by the Executive Secretary, Mike Dacombe, appears on Page 4.

A review of the records of the composition of the Executive Committee over the course of its 40 year history reveals that the 19 past presidents have come from only 10 of the 40 member countries. They include four presidents each from the UK and USA, three from France, two from The Netherlands and one each from Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, and Sweden. The 199 members of the Executive Committee during its 50-year history are heavily represented by persons from European member countries (64%), with the rest coming equally from AsCA (17%) and ACA (18%) regional member countries. There are 15 member countries that have never had a representative on the Executive Committee in its 50-year history.

I have previously suggested in these pages that it may be appropriate to consider expanding the size of the Executive Committee to involve leading crystallographers from more member countries in order to better serve the needs of the whole community. This will be particularly so if we are successful in expanding the total membership of the Union to over 50 countries. Some mechanism to insure more equitable representation by our regional affiliates could contribute substantially to the expansion of country membership since the AsCA and ACA regions currently include many potential new member countries.

Resistance to expanding the committee is usually based on the argument that a large committee is unmanageable and ineffective. I am of the opinion that if members of a committee are dedicated and hardworking, increased size is an asset.

The Union needs may well warrant consideration of expansion. Although the IUCr Executive Committee is currently comprised of 10 members, its membership was as high as 12 in the past. An expansion to three members from each of the Regional Affiliates together with the four officers (with no restriction on their regional affiliation) would only number 13, just one more than the IUCr Executive Committee membership in 1966-69.

A review of the list of candidates for membership of the Executive Committee submitted by 24 National countries indicates how well each of these excellent candidates could have served the needs of crystallographers throughout the world. An expansion of the size of the Executive Committee would require revisions to the bylaws, another matter for possible consideration by the delegates to the Florence General Assembly.

The Executive Committee of the IUCr also reviewed recommendations from the National Committees of the Union for membership in the many commissions of the Union. Nominations for membership on the commission were forwarded to the Secretary of each Commission. I was pleased to receive a copy of a letter that Ian Robinson, the Chair of the Commission on Synchrotron Radiation, sent to all members of his commission requesting their suggestions for the composition and activities of the Synchrotron Commission for the next triennium. Because the Union makes no formal recommendations concerning how the nomination process should be conducted by individual commissions, I thought that other commission Chairs might benefit from reading Ian's letter.

I asked Ian if I could circulate a copy of his letter to the other Commission Chairs and he agreed. I realize that the needs and goals of the various commissions vary, nevertheless, I think Ian's letter might prove useful to all commission members. If you are currently a member of an IUCr Commission, I urge you to provide useful input to the Secretary and Chair of your commission along the lines recommended by Ian.

This issue of the Newsletter includes the second and final installment of the survey of crystallography in Russia gathered and organized by Leonid Aslanov. Material for an issue on crystallography in Australia and New Zealand, gathered by Jenny Martin has been received. We hope to have contributions from all 40 member countries, but no formal plan exists and no order of appearance has been established. As of now, we will publish the articles in the order received. If necessary, the Editor may solicit contributions (especially from Executive Committee members).

Bill Duax

Dear Members of the IUCr SR commission

In the run-up to the IUCr general assembly in Florence at the end of next August, there will be some organizational activities for the SR commission. I have reviewed the 'General Statement of Principles' governing IUCr commissions (on the web) which outlines the procedure. We need to decide who should rotate off the roster and who should be added. This means we need to have an election.

The SR commission is fairly new and has not fully settled into a clearroutine, but is now close to steady-state. We consist of 9 memberswith a maximum term of 9 years. For a 3-year cycle, it make sense thatwe should aim to rotate 3 members every cycle. I have received a listof 15 nominees, originating from the national affiliate organizations of the IUCr, from which we should select 3. Two of these nominees are already on the commission, so I think we do not need to consider them again.

So please tell me your preferences from the following list of nominees. Send me an email reply with 3-5 (ranked) choices BY JANUARY 15, 2005. I will tabulate the votes at that time and announce the selection.

G. AritoliItalypowder
G. CastroSpainsurface
S.-L. ChangROChinatheory
M.A. Garcia-GrandaSpainpowder
R. GarrettAustraliainstrumentation
J.L. HodeauFrancesingle crystal
K. Lawniczak-JablonskaPolandsurface
K. KjaerDenmarksurface
C. NaveUKprotein instrumentation
R. PaniagoBrazilinterfaces
S.M. SharmaIndiahigh pressure
M. TakataJapanpowder
S. WakatsukiJapanprotein

To decide which of the class of 1999 should rotate off, let me first ask for volunteers. This is an extraordinary situation, given that we have only been in existence for 2 IUCr cycles. If this does not work, I will suggest who should stand down in order to try to strike a balance of subject areas and expertise. Less active members risk being contacted first! FYI our current roster is:

I. Robinson (C)USA1999surface
LTJ DelbaereCanada1999proteins
H. GraafsmaFrance2002instrumentation
SM GrunerUSA1999biophysics
H. KitamuraJapan1999undulators
GN KulipanovRussia2002SR instrumentation
T. MatsushitaJapan1999x-ray optics
D. McMorrowUK2002neutrons
J. SchneiderGermany1999single crystal

Last, but not least, we need to choose a NEW CHAIR. Though not a statutory requirement, it is customary (and I think it is a good idea) to rotate every cycle to maintain the vitality of the commission. So please nominate one of the current roster that you think would be desirable. Self-nominations are especially welcome. I will collate the nominees, and ask you to vote if necessary. The deadline for nominations is also JANUARY 15, 2005.

In other business, we have the opportunity to request money from IUCr to support our activities before MARCH 2005. In the past we have endorsed relevant conference activity and sponsored attendance at relevant workshops, for the purpose of reporting back to the IUCr.

Our commission tries to promote the access to SR facilities by crystallographers that do not otherwise have easy access. It tries to disseminate relevant technical information about advances in instrumentation and help establish standards between facilities where appropriate. We have a special interest in X-ray detectors, the development of which is often neglected by the facilities themselves. Thank you all for your efforts to help reach these goals.

Ian Robinson
SR Commission chair