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

Greetings. As many of us are about to end another busy semester, we realize that summer is almost here, and August and IUCr XXIV are just a few months away.

I want to call special attention to a couple of articles in this issue of the IUCr Newsletter. I highly recommend the Cover Story on The First Pan-African Conference on Crystallography by Bill Duax here. The conference was held in Dschang, Cameroon, last October where a mix of scientists, students and policy makers from 35 countries discussed ways that crystallography can be a vehicle for promoting science in Africa. Be sure to read the article all the way to the end. In addition to providing a nice summary of the scientific programme, Bill gives an insightful look at what he describes as 'the most educational, exciting, and enjoyable meeting' of his life!

The other article is 'Lighting the LAAMP' here. The IUCr had partnered with IUPAP to submit a proposal to the 2016-2019 ICSU Grants Programme. Just as my copy was being sent in for the last Newsletter, we received the very good news that this joint proposal was one of three funded by ICSU for this period. Congratulations to Michele Zema who led the IUCr efforts and our thanks to IUPAP and the many organizations (UNESCO, TWAS, etc.) and large-scale facilities that supported this joint effort. The acronym LAAMP (Lightsources for Africa, the Americas and the Middle East Project) has been chosen for the initiative. The grant is for 300,000 euros over three years. In addition to this grant providing support for new initiatives, the scope of the proposal will help support a number of OpenLabs.

Speaking of ICSU, the fate of this organization is uncertain as active discussions are underway about a possible merger of ICSU with ISSC (International Social Science Council). A committee is working on how to address the concerns expressed by many of the International Unions about handling dues, identifying official national representation etc. I invite your comments (positive or negative) about the merger. ICSU will meet in Taiwan later this fall to vote on the proposal.

[Finance Committee] Finance Committee and members of the Chester staff met in Leuven in March 2017. (l-r) Marv Hackert, Mike Dacombe, Jane Robinson, Luc Van Meervelt, Samar Hasnain, Malcolm Cooper, Mike Glazer, Chris Gilmore, Jonathan Agbenyega, Michele Zema and Peter Strickland.

The financial health of the IUCr continues to be a major concern. In March the Finance Committee, led by Malcolm Cooper, met in Leuven. The IUCr experienced another substantial deficit for 2016 and a shortfall is predicted again for 2017. The Finance Committee worked hard to identify savings and new income streams which could address these deficits and return the Union to a sound financial footing without seriously damaging its operations. The Finance Committee has recommended 8 measures that should ameliorate the situation within 12-18 months. Examples of items that will result in savings include making changes in the production of the IUCr Newsletter, and reducing the Calendar Committee budget but compensating in part by shifting some of the funding of educational schools from the Calendar Committee to being supported by the Education and Outreach Fund. Examples of new income streams are implementing the Associates scheme, increasing open access charges, and recognizing that the new ICSU grant can support some OpenLabs. These recommendations have been reviewed and approved as necessary by the IUCr Executive Committee.

The IUCr Associates Programme will launch officially at the Congress in Hyderabad. The programme offers a series of benefits and tools to help you network, share ideas and discover more about crystallography. The benefits of joining include a 20% discount on the open-access fee for publishing an article in an IUCr journal, the ability to download 6 free articles from Crystallography Journals Online, a 50% discount for individuals purchasing the print version of International Tables for Crystallography, tools for professional networking, and many more. Joining the IUCr Associates Programme also supports many of the IUCr's charitable activities. If you have registered for the Congress or visited the IUCr website, you have had the opportunity to indicate interest in the 'pre-launch' pricing discount of 20% off the Associates Programme joining fee (USD 160, or USD 48 for students and retired scientists), which gives you access to all the benefits for a period of 3 years. If you have any questions about the Associates Programme, please contact us at associates@iucr.org.

As noted earlier, the IUCr Outreach and Education Fund has been established to enable the continuation of many of the initiatives successfully launched during the International Year of Crystallography in 2014 and to pursue the objectives stated in the declaration 'Crystallography for the Next Generation'. Namely, these goals are to increase awareness of crystallography, to build capacity in the developing regions of the world, and to forge collaborations with governmental, scientific and educational institutions and organizations aimed at facilitating strategic projects for the development of crystallography in all parts of the world. Requests for IUCr sponsorship through the IUCr Outreach and Education Fund must be submitted to the IUCr no later than 3 months before the event and should include a description of the event, tentative programme, and a provisional budget. All requests will be evaluated by the Oversight Committee for the IUCr Outreach and Education Fund. See the IUCr web site for additional details.

The only Regional Associate conference this year will be the ACA meeting in New Orleans, 26-30 May. The theme of this year's ACA Transactions Symposium is Cryo-Electron Microscopy. Of the four workshops offered on 26 May, 'Research Data Management', organized by John Helliwell, Brian McMahon and Tom Terwilliger, is part of the IUCr's Diffraction Data Deposition Working Group efforts focused on the issues of raw diffraction data preservation.

Of course, the major event for the summer is the IUCr XXIV Congress in Hyderabad from 21-28 August. The International Programme Committee and the Commission representatives have put together an outstanding programme along with additional events offered as part of a 'parallel programme' with titles like 'Salt of the Earth' and 'Symmetry in India' (here). Gautam Desiraju and his colleagues have worked hard to make all the local arrangements and assure us that this will be a memorable Congress. I encourage everyone to check their extensive website at www.iucr2017.org. Be sure to review the information on visas to verify that you and any accompanying guests apply for the proper type of visa, and note that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of entry into India. All participants must apply and secure a conference visa, but this does not preclude a bit of sight-seeing before and after the Congress! Accompanying persons may apply for a tourist visa, which for citizens of many countries is given on arrival after a pre-application done on-line. It is not recommended to enter India on a tourist visa and then participate academically in the Congress.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record on this subject (ask someone over 50 if you do not know what that means), I want to emphasize again how important it is for the future health of our organization that we have diverse representations in all phases of the IUCr - that starts with the nomination of delegates, officers, and Commission members to be voted on in Hyderabad (also see 'Women in Science'). Late nominations can still come in, but the goal is to have the names of all nominees and major legislative actions to be considered by the General Assembly available for everyone to deliberate on before delegates get to Hyderabad. Our Executive Secretary, Mike Dacombe, will be mailing out materials later this summer, well before the Congress begins.

Michael Dacombe has announced plans to retire later in 2017 after our IUCr XXIV Congress. Mike's first Congress as our Executive Secretary was 24 years ago in Beijing 1993. The IUCr has been fortunate to have Mike managing the day-to-day operations of the IUCr and Chester office for the past two decades. A search for a new Executive Secretary has taken place and you can look forward to news about Mike's successor in the coming months.

Thank you for your continued support of our collective mission to support and advance crystallography around the world. Please do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the Executive Committee with your suggestions for how the IUCr can work more effectively to serve you.

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