Letter from the President
[Sine Larsen] Sine Larsen

The summer is definitely over in Denmark where I now live, the students are back at the University and teaching has started again, so the last two busy months with conferences and meetings seem suddenly far away. This letter gives me the opportunity to look back and reflect on the meetings I enjoyed attending in the last couple of months. In July I attended the annual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association held in Chicago 24-29 July. With almost 1000 participants it was a very successful meeting. Memorable are naturally the lectures given by the three Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2009, Ramakrishnan, Yonath, and Steitz, and all the other exciting science presented at the meeting by both older and younger crystallographers. The ACA has a good tradition of having a number of workshops preceding the annual meetings, addressing the use and developments of crystallographic software. Among the workshops held prior to the ACA Chicago meeting there was one on the topic Crystallography - World of Wonders, which impressed me thoroughly. It was intended to introduce non-crystallographers such as high-school teachers to the beauty and impact of our science, and was an obvious success. The animating report on the workshop that I received from the organizers after they had had a heavy day of teaching, illustrated clearly the success of the workshop and showed that excitement about crystallography can be brought to people outside our field.

More recently I attended the 26th European Crystallographic Meeting in Darmstadt, Germany, which was preceded by and had a one-day overlap with EPDIC12 (European Powder Diffraction Conference). Powder diffraction is the crystallographic discipline that is most widespread, owing to its many industrial applications. Because of its size the powder diffraction community tends to have its own meetings detached from the regular crystallographic meetings, and I think that this is a loss for both the powder diffractionists and crystallographers in other fields. The arrangements for the two meetings provided an excellent way to unite all crystallographers, and the newly built Darmstadtium conference center provided the superb framework for this gathering of the crystallographic community. There were more than 1100 crystallographers in Darmstadt for the two meetings, of which a healthy fraction attended both. I would like to thank Hartmut Fuess, who chaired both the ECM and the EPDIC meeting arrangements, and congratulate him for the two successful conferences. A similar arrangement of EPDIC and ECM meetings at the same place took place in Enschede, the Netherlands, in 1992; hopefully we will not have to wait for 18 years before it happens again.

Many participants in the regional ACA, ECA and AsCA meetings come from countries outside the region, so one could imagine that the three regional meetings would become more and more alike. But this is certainly not the case. Talking to crystallographers who regularly attend these meetings confirms my impression that the ACA, ECA and AsCA meetings each have their own unique and excellent character. Therefore I am really looking forward to the AsCA meeting in Busan, Korea. Meeting with the rapidly growing crystallographic community in Asia has always been a great pleasure for me, and the AsCA meetings definitely have their own spirit.

About a year ago I wrote about the lack of recognition that was felt by scientists working at the large research infrastructures such as synchrotrons. I was confirmed in my belief that this represented a major problem from the many reactions I received after the letter appeared. It is a problem that is not easy to solve, but as a result of a meeting with beamline scientists at the Biology and Synchrotron Radiation congress in Melbourne last February, the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation (JSR) has introduced a special format for papers that can be used to describe and give details about beamlines. A paper describing the beamline makes it easy for the users of the beamline to give a reference to a beamline, so it is my hope that many beamline scientists can find the time to submit this special type of paper to JSR.

Sine Larsen (sine@kemi.ku.dk)