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Rigaku OpenLab Bolivia, September 12-16, 2016

[Bolivia participants] Participants of the OpenLab, La Paz, Bolivia, September 12-16, 2016.

The IUCr-UNESCO Rigaku OpenLab took place at the Facultad de Ciencias Puras y Naturales of U. Mayor de San AndrŽs (UMSA) in La Paz, Bolivia, September 12-16, 2016. At the General Assembly of the Latin American Crystallographic Association (LACA) meeting, formally the first meeting of LACA, which took place in S‹o Paulo, Brazil, in September 2015, Wilma and Juli‡án Ticona Chambi, two very enthusiastic young scientists from UMSA, La Paz, advanced the idea of organizing a crystallography event in Bolivia. They mentioned there had never been an event in crystallography in their country and that they would be very happy to work in the organization of such an event. The LACA General Assembly supported the proposal, in the collaborative spirit that permeates the LACA organization and fulfilling its mission to promote and expand crystallography in our region. Given the success of the IUCr-UNESCO OpenLabs program, it was considered appropriate to organize an OpenLab at UMSA, taking advantage of the instrumentation available. They have a Rigaku powder diffractometer (old but still in excellent working condition) and a new PANalytical XPERT diffractometer. Rigaku Latin America co-sponsored the OpenLab along with the Institut de Recherche pour le DŽéveloppement (IRD) and the International Centre for Diffraction Data (ICDD). Several companies including Benton, Save SRL, ESLC SRL and Oberon SRL provided additional support.

The OpenLab was attended by about 100 young scientists and students from La Paz, Potos’ and Cochabamba (Bolivia) and from Chile, El Salvador, México, Nicaragua and Perú.

Santiago García-Granda (U. Oviedo, Spain / IUCr Executive Committee), Michele Zema (U. Pavia, Italy / IUCr), Diego G. Lamas (U. San Martín, Argentina / Vice-President LACA), Miguel Delgado (U. de Los Andes, Venezuela / ICDD Regional Co-Chair) and Akihiko Iwata (Rigaku Latin America) constituted the International Advisory Committee. They worked closely with the Local Organizing Committee composed of María Eugenia García (Vice-Dean of Facultad de Ciencias Puras y Naturales), Luis Morales Escobar (Director of the Chemistry Program), Giovanna Almanza Vega, Victor Ismael Ramírez, Mario Blanco Cazas, Rigoberto Choque A. and Oswaldo Ramos (Chair). The wonderful and enthusiastic team of young scientists and students needs to be recognized for their hard work: Wilma Ticona Chambi and Naviana Leiva, Julián Ticona Chambi, Macguiver Pilco, Grace Villanueva, Leydi Salinas, Carolina Trigero, Neddy Alejo, Alison Parisaca and Samuel Lonza.

To provide additional help to the students with little crystallography background, a two-day mini course was held on September 8-9, taught by Miguel Delgado, Diego G. Lamas and Graciela Díaz de Delgado. For the OpenLab, José Antonio Henao (UIS, Colombia) and Akilesh Tripathy (Rigaku Americas) also participated as instructors. Santiago García-Granda could not participate as an instructor due to many commitments as part of his inauguration as Rector of U. de Oviedo in Spain (Congratulations, Santiago!). Mario Blanco Cazas, Head of Instituto de Investigaciones Geológicas y del Medio Ambiente, and Ariana Zeballos were in charge of the practical sessions showing the students sample mounting and powder data collection. Inasmuch as Bolivia is a country with an extraordinary mineral diversity and a vibrant mining activity, the OpenLab was centered on powder diffraction. However several lectures dealt with single-crystal X-ray diffraction, and an event dedicated to structure determination and refinement from single-crystal data is being planned for 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Chemistry Program at UMSA. Several formal and informal meetings were held during the week to start and strengthen collaborations between the institutions involved in this OpenLab.

On a personal note, all the instructors agree that this was one of the most memorable events in which we have ever participated. The warm reception with the attention provided by University officials and faculty members of the Facultad de Ciencias Puras y Naturales, the enthusiastic participation of all the attendees, and the help provided by the local students created a superb academic environment. At the closing ceremony, Luis Morales Escobar (Director of Chemistry Studies), Franz Cuevas Quiroz (Dean of Facultad de Ciencias Puras y Naturales) and Waldo Albarracin Sánchez (Rector of UMSA) highlighted the importance of the OpenLab and opened the doors of the institution to continue and strengthen collaborations, particularly in crystallography. We felt so welcome, and we hope to return to Bolivia soon for another academic (or other!) activity.

Excerpted from the article CristAL - Crystallography News from Latin America by Graciela Díaz de Delgado, ACA RefleXions, Spring 2017, pp. 7-9