Letter from the President
[Marvin L. Hackert] Marvin L. Hackert

It was good to see many of you at the regional crystallographic meetings in July (ACA) and August (ECA). I always enjoy these opportunities to reconnect with former students and colleagues. However, this year I particularly enjoyed the award lectures as they reminded me of the 'synergy' of the IUCr. Synergism is defined as the 'cooperative action of agencies such that the total effect is greater than the sum of the effects taken individually'. I reflected on how each awardee represented a different facet of our diverse community. At the ACA meeting in Philadelphia, Laurence Marks (Warren awardee) gave an excellent overview of his studies on materials at the nanoscale using X-ray crystallography and electron diffraction. Laurence has served the IUCr as a former Chair of the Commission on Electron Crystallography, a member of the IPC for Montreal, and as a Co-editor of Acta A. Greg Petsko (Buerger Award) presented a lecture with a folksy blend of historical highlights and promise of how crystallography can lead to improved treatment for diseases like Lou-Gehrig's disease. Greg is also the President of the IUBMB - a good example of the ties that the IUCr has to other international unions. The Etter Early Career Award went to Yan Jessie Zhang. Jessie is a structural biologist using X-ray crystallography to study transcriptional regulation and an excellent example of our future generation of bright crystallographers.

A month later I was in Rovinj, Croatia, for the very successful EMC29 meeting with over 1100 participants. Here another one of our heroes, John Helliwell, was presented the 8th Max Perutz Award for 'his long, generous and fruitful dedication to developing all aspects of the use of synchrotron radiation for crystallography'. John was honored with the Patterson Award from the ACA in 2014 and is well known for his service to our community, serving as Editor-in-Chief for Acta Cryst. from 1996-2005, and a former President of the ECA. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the first ever LACA meeting in September, but the IUCr EC was well represented by Santiago Garcia-Granda who reported that over 125 participants enjoyed a well organized event with very high scientific content. We wish AsCA 2015 similar success when they meet 5-8 December in Kolkata.

The IUCr Executive Committee (EC) and the Finance Committee (FC) met in August in conjunction with the ECM in Rovinj, Croatia. The FC cautioned the EC that revenues are down relative to expenses and the IUCr needs additional sources of revenue if we are to continue to do the good works that support crystallography around the world. The first such action taken by your EC last year was to establish a Legacy Fund - many thanks to all who contributed to our Legacy Fund and please consider doing so again as part of your charitable giving (see here). The success of IYCr2014 highlighted that we need to do more to establish the professional brand of crystallographers. The IUCr EC believes that a voluntary IUCr Associates Program with a modest dues structure would help accomplish our dual goals of promoting a sense of belonging for our professional community and enabling us to serve better our community and support worthy activities. Key aspects of the Associates proposal are that it is voluntary, would help promote our profession and serve our professional community, and could provide tangible benefits (e.g. a reduction in costs of selected services), all with a modest dues structure (e.g. 100 GBP for 3-year individual Associate dues; lower dues for students, postdocs and retirees). To assist in their deliberations on this proposal, the EC is soliciting the input of our community on this proposal by polling the National Committees.

I mentioned in an earlier column the important role IUCr Commissions play in putting together the program for our Congress and in organizing meetings. The IPC for Hyderabad 2017 was approved in Rovinj and now they need to hear your ideas for symposia etc. for the Congress before they meet next year. Additionally, in Hyderabad at the 24th General Assembly of the IUCr we will elect the new members of the EC and the Commissions. The National Committees have been invited to submit suggestions for the IUCr EC as well as the Commissions, and they were reminded that it is important to have a fair representation of our diverse community, including young scientists and women, on our EC and Commissions. These suggestions will then be considered by the EC when preparing its own nominations at its next meeting in Denver in July of 2016.

[Edith Madela-Mntla] With Edith Madela-Mntla from ICSU-ROA (Regional Office Africa).
[INDABA8] With Andreas Roodt (l) and ICSU-IUCr sponsored delegates at INDABA8.
[Jan Boeyens] Conversation with Jan Boeyens.

I began this column highlighting some of the distinguished individuals who were recognized with awards at our regional meetings. I would like to end the column with a special mention of another one of our champions. In August I had the opportunity to attend INDABA8 in South Africa. This was my first trip to South Africa and enabled me to meet many crystallographers from that region. INDABA is an African term used to describe a meeting to analyze a difficult problem from all angles. The first INDABA conference was held in 1995 as part of an initiative to build science capacity in Africa via crystallography. This year's conference had about 80 participants. The INDABA meetings have been sponsored in part by the IUCr and ICSU. Dr Edith Madela-Mntla, Director of the ISCU Regional Office for Africa, represented ICSU and I had the honor to participate and represent the IUCr.

At INDABA I had the pleasure to meet with Jan Boeyens, among many others. Jan was one of the original organizers of the INDABA conferences, a pioneer in the field of crystallography in South Africa, a former member of the IUCr EC, and a tireless crusader for extending crystallography to all of Africa. Indeed, Jan Boeyens was instrumental in starting the IUCr Africa initiative in 1996 during his time on the EC. Unfortunately, Jan died unexpectedly on August 26, shortly after attending his last INDABA. His is a great loss to our community, but his contributions will live on and are a good example of the synergy we have within the IUCr when we work together to do things for the greater good.

The IUCr represents many nations and supports four Regional Associates, but in reality the IUCr is a community of individuals who work together to accomplish great things. My thanks to the many of you who do so much for the IUCr - we appreciate all you do. Please do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the EC with your concerns, comments or suggestions for how the IUCr can work more effectively to serve you.

Marvin L. Hackert
(m.hackert@austin.utexas.edu)