Letter from the President
[Gautam Desiraju] Gautam R. Desiraju

The crystallographic community has enthusiastically welcomed the adoption, by the UN, of 2014 as the International Year of Crystallography. The UN has asked the IUCr to work with UNESCO to facilitate the implementation of IYCr in collaboration with governments, ICSU and other relevant non-governmental organizations. The IUCr hopes and expects that the regional affiliates, national committees and crystallographic associations throughout the world will use this wonderful opportunity to communicate the excitement of our subject to each other, to students and to society at large. The IUCr, as the nodal organization for crystallographic activities in the world, has initiated the adoption of the IYCr resolution by the UN. But the IUCr does not have the ability to fund projects in the context of IYCr. It will willingly lend its moral support to various small and large programs. To increase the public awareness of crystallography it is important that a large number of students are involved in lectures, workshops and other related activities like exhibitions, contests and on-line programs. To be most effective, such activities are necessarily coordinated in small groups. I hope that you will see fit to involve yourselves in such projects. To foster international collaborations between scientists worldwide is another important aim of IYCr. A very effective way of doing this is to organize small meetings in focused areas between scientists in a small number of countries. Many years ago a rather successful meeting series in small-molecule crystallography was organized jointly by scientists in Israel, Italy and Yugoslavia. Today there are annual meetings of the Slovenian and Croatian crystallographic associations and bi-annual meetings in crystal engineering among scientists in China, India and Singapore. These smaller meetings organized by smaller groups of countries offer many strategic advantages that are difficult to secure in the large IUCr Congresses and even in meetings of the Regional Associates. I would like to invite scientists from Africa, Central and South America and regions in Asia to try and organize crystallographic meetings of this kind. In another vein, crystallographers in advanced countries should try to involve themselves in the numerous synchrotron facilities in celebrating IYCr and also give focus to UNESCO’s SESAME project. Educational programs in crystallography should constitute a very important part of IYCr activities and IUCr itself would like to encourage these, in its own small way, especially in preparing notes and teaching materials for students in local languages. We should also try to increase the awareness of the way in which crystallography underpins investigations of cultural heritage artifacts. By showing the importance of our subject in particular cultures and in a historical context, we automatically improve the awareness of the general public in the ways in which crystallography can affect many facets of human life and well being. At a professional and scientific level, I would hope that crystallographers use the occasion of IYCr to argue for more chairs and positions in universities and institutes that are specifically earmarked for crystallographers. As I mentioned at the Madrid Congress last year, many scientists use crystallography but very few like to refer to themselves as crystallographers. This is an attitude problem and I hope that the declaration of the IYCr will allow each and every one of us to be able to assert our crystallographic identities in ways that are profitable, meaningful and enjoyable. I am sure that the IUCr Newsletter will report many items in the coming issues that are related to IYCr and I also urge you to send in your contributions to the Newsletter as and when the occasion demands. I and my colleagues in the IUCr Executive Committee look forward to working with each of you in making IYCr 2014 an important and memorable occasion.

Gautam R. Desiraju (gautam.desiraju@gmail.com)