Regional news

Message from the new President of the ECA

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[Helliwell]John R Helliwell
Dear Colleagues,

It is a great honour for me to have been elected the President of the European Crystallographic Association (ECA) for the coming 3 years.

With this letter, I would like to initiate a review, and in depth discussion, of a long term strategy of development of the ECA. The ECA not only runs outstanding ECM conferences, but sponsors the prestigious Max Perutz Prize Lectures, has a very informative website ( and is one of the three regional affiliates of the IUCr. It is now possible for individual members to join the ECA for a 5 year period for only 50 Euros using a credit card. A principal benefit of being a member is a reduced registration fee for the ECM. Membership dues help the ECA build a reserve to support student attendance at ECM and other crystallographic meetings. New members contribute to securing both a firmer foundation for the ECA and an opportunity to expand activities. An endowed Lecture prize fund has been set up for outstanding young crystallographers to present their `Lewy-Bertaut Prize’ Lecture (jointly with the European Neutron Scattering Association (ENSA) at the ECM). This, and the Max Perutz Prize and Lecture, continue to rely on annual contribution from individual members and commercial suppliers of crystallographic equipment and supplies, to whom we are very grateful. Dues from an expanded membership would secure additional support for these prize funds. Most importantly the ECA also needs to help provide financial assistance to young scientists and other colleagues in financial difficulties to attend our ECMs. National crystallographic associations that affiliate its members to the ECA are another important income stream. There are 29 national i.e. country members and 5 observer countries. Overall our total official number of members is approx 900. Since the total number of crystallographers in Europe is estimated at 4000 we are missing many potential members! Tell your friends about the ECA and how to join (see www.ecanews. org/membership.htm).

I invite you to email me your suggestions of how we can improve and/or expand our activities. One idea for discussion is to have satellite sessions at our ECMs for skills enhancement and training (e.g. how to use the latest software packages). This is also known as Continuous Professional Development. Another idea is that, rather than a paper printed newsletter, we have an “ECA e-Newsletter” with all articles and letters being sent to our webmaster, Massimo Nespolo ( This will ensure a regular flow of information and news. I don’t want to detract from the IUCr Newsletter content from Europe, but I feel sure that we have plenty of other news and views, that can’t find outlet in the inevitably limited number of printed pages of the IUCr Newsletter.

It is a happy coincidence that I am writing this just when the IUCr Journals have won the Association of Learned Society Publishers (‘ALSP’) Publishing Innovation Award for its leadership in scientific publishing linking the data on which a publication rests to the detailed text. On behalf of the whole ECA I congratulate the IUCr Journals in Chester on this terrific achievement as a, now, widely recognised leading innovator in science publishing.

In my next quarterly contribution to the ECA website, in December, I will report on progress with the ECM24 in Marrakech under the hard working Chairmanship of Abdelmalek Thalal and describe the background to agenda items coming up for discussion at the next ECA Executive Committee (whose members are listed at meeting to be held in Manchester in mid February 2007.

John R Helliwell ,