IUCr activities
[Jonathan Agbenyega]

IUCr webinar series

You may remember reading in a previous column of mine about the launch of a series of educational webinars to help support authors' articles published in our journals. We now have three webinars currently nearing completion. These webinars will air over the coming months and will allow attendees the opportunity to learn or brush-up skills in particular areas of crystallography. Each event will last between 35 and 45 minutes with some time at the end for questions and answers. Attendees tuning in live will have the opportunity to ask questions of the speaker by typing their comments into the webinar interface and the speaker will then answer live for the entire audience to hear. A listen-on-demand recording of the event will also be made available for those not able to attend the live event.

In no particular order the three events to launch this series will be as follows:

Naomi Chayen of Imperial College, London, UK, talks about smart materials for protein crystallisation [Khurshid et al. (2015). Acta Cryst. D71, 534-540; http://doi.org/f65mds]. The webinar will present practical solutions to some of the problems faced during protein crystallisation with examples of successful results, showing the ideas and inspiration behind them. The webinar will end with a fascinating look into how this particular innovative solution was transitioned from the lab into commercial products that are now being sold to users and commercial entities.

Paul Fewster, former Head of Research at PANalytical, presents a new theory for X-ray diffraction [Fewster (2014). Acta Cryst. A70, 257-282; http://doi.org/f572m6 and Fewster (2016). Acta Cryst. A72, 50-54; http://doi.org/b45v]. Paul asks the questions, 'Are we accepting all the interpretations that arise from our present description of X-ray diffraction? Is it reasonable that all crystals have to be 'ideally imperfect' to determine their structure? Bragg's law cannot avoid dynamical effects, and therefore the measured intensity is not equal to the square of the structure factor unless the crystal is assumed to be 'ideally imperfect'. If polycrystalline diffraction is formed from crystals satisfying Bragg's law, why is the background so high compared with single-crystal profiles? Are more crystals required in polycrystalline diffraction to study complex structures with large unit cells to ensure all the peaks are captured? If the variation of intensity around the diffraction rings from polycrystalline samples is associated with a large range of crystal sizes, why does the data from a standard reference material of similar size crystals still reveal this variation? Are we not just modifying our sample description and instrument performance so that the current theory fits the data?' By attending this webinar you will hear directly from Paul on how he explains his new theory.

Fabrice Gorrec, MRC, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, considers the advances in macromolecular X-ray crystallography and the complexity of this ever-evolving field in a presentation titled 'Formulation of the MORPHEUS protein crystallisation screens' [Gorrec (2015). Acta Cryst. F71, 831-837; http://doi.org/b45w]. Over the last four decades, different strategies to formulate crystallisation screens have been established. In addition to altering the main parameters of crystallisation, other aspects have been considered, notably the need to produce/refine conditions, the cryoprotection of crystals and the phasing of crystallographic data. For this, many reagents have been investigated and integrated into crystallisation conditions. Experienced researchers from related fields, students and non-experts alike will find Fabrice's presentation essential as it provides both theoretical and experimental evidence-based aspects of macromolecular X-ray crystallography.

In each of these events we hope that attendees leave with some useful hints and tips ready to apply to their day-to-day research. The opportunity to interact with our authors could help in connecting with other experts in the field, ready and able to help you in your daily work.

In addition to this fascinating programme, we are working on another series of IUCr educational webinars that will cover - in a more pedagogic style - different aspects of symmetry, diffraction techniques, structural science and crystallography. More on this project in a later column.

Jonathan Agbenyega, IUCr Business Development Manager (ja@iucr.org)