Letter from the President

Letter from the President

[Bill Duax]W.L. Duax
At the opening ceremony of the IUCr Congress in Florence on August 23rd Philip Coppens will be awarded the Ewald Prize and will present a lecture. The award ceremony will be followed by a reception. Philip is an especially deserving recipient in that he, like Ewald, has not only conducted crystallographic research of the highest caliber, but has served the international community in many capacities, including President of the ACA (1978) and the IUCr (1993-1996). Philip embodies the spirit of the IUCr in that he has traveled to dozens of countries to describe his pioneering studies on high resolution electron density determination and in situ solid state reactions and has welcomed post doctoral trainees and collaborators from all over the world to work in his Buffalo laboratory.

With 2200 submitted abstracts and as many advance registrations, the Florence IUCr Congress promises to be the largest and most successful ever. Additional details appear on Page 30 and are on the XX Congress website (www.iucr2005.it/).

At the annual meeting of the Finance Committee, a very informative report was presented by Managing Editor, Peter Strickland, including information on the number of manuscripts submitted to the IUCr journals in 2004 from seventy-four countries, the acceptance rate of all co-editors and the total income and expenses for each journal. There has been an explosion in papers published in Acta E, the Unions first electronic journal. The content of Acta E grew by 22% (537 more papers in 2004 over 2003). Crystallographers in China were responsible for a phenomenal 39% of papers in Acta E in 2004. The list of ten countries with the highest number of papers published in Acta E includes two countries that are not yet members of the Union, Turkey and Malaysia. The rapid spread of crystallography in emerging countries is also reflected in the fact that Brazil ranks among the top 10 countries submitting papers to Acta D in 2004.

Articles published in IUCr journals in 2004 indicate that there are crystallographers working in 67 countries. Since we have only 40 member countries, we need to explore mechanisms to bring the other 27 countries into the Union. This could be a reason to explore the potential merit of expanding the size of the Executive Committee and to put in place procedures that would insure a balanced representation from the geographic areas of the Regional Affiliates, ACA, ECA, and AsCA.

The ACA reports that Argentina and Brazil have become its first country members. The guidelines for country membership include representation on the ACA Council, partial support for meeting attendees, complimentary student memberships in the ACA, and complimentary subscription to the IUCr journals. The benefits of membership (described in greater detail on the ACA website, www.hwi.buffalo.edu/ACA) will be rotated among laboratories within the member countries. Although the ECA has had member countries since its inception, this is a new program for the ACA.

A number of questions important to the IUCr will be under discussion at the Congress and General Assembly. At the Finance Committee meeting, John Helliwell, Editor in Chief, drew attention to two important issues, the need for a more effective policy for handling submitted manuscripts concerning crystallographic education and the challenge presented by the rapid growth of submissions to IUCr journals of manuscripts that are technologically sound but poorly written because the authors lack experience writing in English.

When the Executive Committee deliberated over the many nominations for membership of the next Executive Committee submitted by national committees, they decided to have only one nominee for each of the offices of the IUCr (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer). Before 1990 there was only one candidate offered for any open position on the Executive Committee. In 1990, for the first time in IUCr history, the delegates to the Congress exercised their right to nominate additional candidates from the floor and elected two people who had not been endorsed by the Executive Committee, including the second woman ever to be elected to the Executive Committee. After that experience, the Executive Committee decided to nominate more candidates than the number of open positions in order to give the delegates to the Congress a choice. Some national crystallographic associations always provide more than one candidate for any open position. At the Florence Congress we should have an open discussion about whether there should be more than one candidate for each principal office in the IUCr in future elections.

The IUCr Newsletter is presently distributed to 17,000 crystallographers around the world. It would appear that there are twice that many scientists who are crystallographers, collaborators of crystallographers, co-authors of crystallographic papers, or have a genuine interest in our field. We would like to expand distribution of the Newsletter to include all these people. However we can’t afford to double the cost of producing and posting hard copies. For this reason, we are experimenting with electronic distribution of the Newsletter. Electronic distribution expedites much more timely distribution of the information in the Newsletter. This issue of the Newsletter was placed on the IUCr Newsletter website (www.hwi.buffalo.edu/IUCr/IUCr-News/Home.html) two days after it was sent to the printer (approximately 5/3/05). Depending upon where you live, you will receive the hard copy version anywhere from three weeks to six months after that date. Printed copies will continue to be distributed to libraries, at national and international meetings, and will be sent to science funding administrators and individuals who wish to receive hard copies. We invite you to help expand our list of libraries and national meetings having crystallographic content.

Bill Duax, duax@hwi.buffalo.edu