Letter from the President

[Sine Larsen] Sine Larsen
When this letter reaches you 2010 will have just started. As a new year often marks a time for reflection, this letter is devoted to the past and future of the IUCr. The Statutes and By-Laws for the IUCr were formally submitted to the International Union of Scientific Unions (ICSU) on April 7, 1947. Since 1998 the acronym ICSU has stood for the International Council for Science, which presently has 117 national scientific bodies and 30 international scientific unions as members. ICSU is one of the oldest non-governmental organizations in the world. It was founded in 1931 to promote international scientific activities in different branches of science and the application of science for the benefit of humanity. Among the missions of ICSU are the facilitation of interactions amongst scientists across all disciplines and from all countries, promotion of the participation of all scientists in international scientific endeavour and stimulation of dialogue between scientific communities and governments, civil societies and the private sector. The IUCr holds a unique position among the international scientific unions owing to its role as a scientific publisher of both journals and books such as the International Tables that are used widely by other scientific communities. Like crystals, the IUCr is well organized with the Commissions looking after the scientific activities. I have always felt it a privilege to belong to the crystallographic community and find it a pleasure to meet my colleagues at scientific meetings. My husband, who is an inorganic chemist, enjoys attending crystallographic meetings for the science but also because he feels that the crystallographic community is the most 'social' among the scientific communities he has met. Are crystallographers really more social than other scientists, and, if this is the case, why? I think that the answer to these questions lies in one word: PEOPLE. I cannot of any other scientific community that possesses such a richness of excellent scientists that unselfishly work to benefit the entire community. The work of Paul Ewald, one of the driving forces behind the creation of the IUCr and of Acta Crystallographica, is a prime example and his example has been followed by numerous crystallographers who have worked for the IUCr and the crystallographic community as editors of journals and volumes of International Tables, and as Chairs and members of Commissions. Crystallographers who are database managers and develop computer programs have a similar role, and the whole community is indebted to the competent crystallographers who write the software that can be used to check the consistency of crystallographic results that provide quality assurance for the published data. Among the people that give voice to the benefit of our science are the Nobel Prize awardees. The press all over the world now know that crystallography formed the basis for the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009, awarded to Ada Yonath, Venki Ramakrishnan and Tom Steitz, whom I congratulate warmly on behalf of the IUCr. I shall end this letter by paying tribute to a dear colleague, Louis Delbaere, who passed away far too early in October. Louis was the Chair of the Canadian National Committee for Crystallography and many of us remember how happy he was when Montreal was selected as the venue for the 2014 IUCr Congress in Osaka in 2008, a meeting where he was elected a member of the IUCr Executive Committee (EC). Louis became the Chair of the Sub-committee on the Union Calendar, which handles support for meetings and young scientists – a job he looked after in a highly competent way. Though he unfortunately only served on the EC for a relatively short time it was clear to all the members of the EC that Louis possessed global awareness and served the international community in the same unselfish way that he had been doing for the Canadian and American communities. I shall end this letter with a wish for the future of the IUCr. I hope that the crystallographic community may continue to be rich in people that work for the benefit of all crystallographers

Sine Larson
sine@kemi.ku.dk