Meeting report

15th BCA/CCG Intensive Teaching School in X-ray Structure Analysis

Durham, UK, March 2015

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The 15th BCA/CCG Intensive Teaching School in X-ray Structure Analysis was held in Durham from March 21-29, 2015. The course consists of a mixture of lectures interspersed with tutorials in which the students get a chance to apply concepts they have just learned to sets of problems. The lectures and tutorials were held at Trevelyan College. Each tutor group consisted of eight students and had a tutor who stayed with them throughout the week to act as their first port of call for help throughout the course.

[Participants] Participants at the 15th BCA/CCG Intensive Teaching School in X-ray Structure Analysis held in Durham from March 21-29, 2015.

This course was attended by 80 students studying in the UK, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Slovenia, India, Poland, USA, Germany, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Australia, Japan and Italy. The participants had a range of crystallographic experience. The majority of the participants are PhD students, with a small number of PDRAs and academic/industrial researchers.

New tutors K. Fucke, L. Hatcher, M. Senn and H. Shepherd had previously attended the course as students. The main lecture topics tackled during the seven-day course were in the following order: Introduction (Prof. W. Clegg), Maths (D. Sivia), Symmetry (W. Clegg), Data Collection from Instrumentation through to Data Collection Strategies (R. Copley), Fourier/Patterson Methods (W. Clegg and S. Moggach), Charge Flipping and Direct methods (L. Palatinus), Uncertainty and Inference (D. Sivia), Refinement (R. Cooper), Derivation of Results and Twinning (S. Parsons), Validation (R. Copley) and a Disorder Workshop (A. Thompson). In addition to the main lectures and tutorials there were two optional lectures, one on Incommensurate Structures (L. Palatinus) and one on Synchrotrons and Neutrons (M. Warren and K. Fucke), both of which were essentially fully attended and appreciated by the students.

Evening activities designed to enable the students to mix with each other included an introductory mathematics lecture (D. Sivia), a bar quiz (R. Cooper), a talk on databases (P. Wood) and student group presentations (M. Probert and K. Fucke). For their group presentations, each tutor group was assigned a different crystallographic topic, which they had to present in as entertaining a way as possible while still being educational. An elite panel of the lecturers judged the presentations and, as with previous years, the standard of the presentations was very high and amusing. On the final evening we had the course dinner, which was a chance to thank all of the contributors to the school, the local staff, organizers, lecturers, tutors and students, all of whom led to another very successful school.

For the first time, on Sunday, March 29, we held an optional hands-on Olex2 workshop that was run by H. Puschmann and O. Dolomanov (OlexSys). This workshop was attended by ∼40 students, some of whom had previously used Olex2 while for others it was new software. For all of the participants it was a chance to apply concepts they had learnt to structure solution and refinement in Olex2. Previous participants of the school had requested this kind of hands-on session.

The school was heavily oversubscribed due to the growing use of crystallography by a wider range of users as a result of the development of easy-to-use software for data collection, structure solution and refinement, much of which does not require a large amount of crystallographic expertise to obtain a result. Consequently, schools such as this are essential to provide users of crystallography with a solid understanding of the underlying theory so that they can identify and treat any problems they may run into, as well as checking the validity of their results prior to publication.

We would particularly like to thank all of the organizations that provided financial support for the course and without whom we would not have been able to run the school so successfully. These are Diamond, IUCr, ECA, CCG, ICG, Oxford Cryosystems, Agilent Technologies, CCDC, Rigaku, ISIS, Bruker and Incoatec.

The funds kindly provided by the IUCr (7000 USD, ∼£4680) were used to help the following students with contributions towards their subsistence (see IUCr Financial Report for full details): A. Nayak (Indian Inst. of Technology, Bhubaneswar, India), K. Czerwinska (Warsaw U. of Technology, Poland), V. Carta (U. of British Columbia, Canada), M. Ursic (U. of Ljubljana, Slovenia), R. R. Ternavisk (U. Estadual de Goias, Brazil) and P. Vinicius de Sousa L. Fook (U. of Trento, Italy).

Judith A. K. Howard and Hazel A. Sparkes (Local Organizers)