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

It hardly seems possible that nearly three years have passed since we gathered in Montreal and that this will be my last newsletter column as President of the IUCr. It has been an honour to have served you in this capacity and a blessing to have had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people in our crystallographic community around the world. We are grateful to the hundreds of people who volunteer their time and talent to make the many aspects of the IUCr work - from those who review manuscripts for our journals, to those who serve on our Commissions and organize schools and conferences. There is not enough space in this column to name all the people I would like to personally thank, but I will single out a few here and will try to thank many others when we gather soon in Hyderabad for IUCr XXIV. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all the members of the IUCr Executive Committee (EC), Finance Committee (FC) and staff in Chester that I have had the pleasure to work with over the past eight years, with special thanks to Sine Larsen, Gautam Desiraju, Luc Van Meervelt and Mike Dacombe for their service, advice and friendship. I also want to acknowledge Bill Duax and Patti Potter for their service and making each issue of this IUCr Newsletter come to life.

[Texas 1]
[Texas 2]
[Texas 3] Photos from a 'Crystals and Crystallography' exhibit done for a Texas Open House at the U. Texas.

As must be true for many of us, the past few years leading up to and following IYCr2014 have been particularly energizing and rewarding. One of my favourite experiences was seeing the eyes of youth light up when we held exhibits. We were very fortunate that Michele Zema won our logo contest in Madrid in 2011 and later joined our staff to lead the multi-faceted celebration of our International Year of Crystallography - IYCr2014. The success of IYCr2014 with crystal-growing competitions, exhibits, OpenLabs, organized conferences and many outreach efforts are due in large part to the vision of Michele who has my gratitude and thanks. Many of these programmes continue to provide training in parts of Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia, where the IUCr is helping to build capacity in crystallography.

The success of our outreach efforts coupled with changes in the publishing market have brought financial challenges that the IUCr FC and IUCr EC have worked to address. The IUCr FC has recommended 8 measures that should ameliorate the operational deficit of the IUCr within two years while still enabling us to continue to support crucial initiatives. Savings measures include making changes in the production of the IUCr Newsletter, and adjustments to the Calendar Committee budget by shifting some of the funding of educational schools from committee support to the Education and Outreach Fund. Additional income streams include the Associates scheme (http://www.iucr.org/people/associates), increasing open access charges, the creation of the IUCr Outreach and Education Fund (whttp://ww.iucr.org/iucr/sponsorship/iucr-outreach-fund), and raising funds like our successful ICSU grant (EUR 300,000 over three years) for LAAMP (Lightsources for Africa, the Americas and the Middle East Project, http://www.iucr.org/outreach/laamp).

The IUCr has experienced many changes and challenges over the years. We need to continue to adapt to survive, as so much work remains to be done. To meet these challenges and for the future health of our organization, I will mention once again in this column that we need to have representation from all phases of our diverse community involved in the leadership of the IUCr - that starts with the nomination of delegates, officers and Commission members, and culminates with the elections in Hyderabad. I am proud of the response we have had from the National Committees to the call for nominations. We have many well-qualified candidates for the next President of the IUCr and a number of women nominated to serve on the IUCr EC. We tried to collect this information early so that the delegates have time to consider whom they feel will best serve our community on the EC and other positions. At the present, we have the following nominations for the EC:

  • President: S. Banerjee (India), W. Depmeier (Germany), A. M. Glazer (UK), J. Helliwell (UK), S. Lidin (Sweden)
  • General Secretary and Treasurer: L. Van Meervelt (Belgium)
  • Vice-President: H. Dabkowska (Canada), M. R. N. Murthy (India)
  • Ordinary members of EC: D. G. Billing (South Africa), G. Diaz de Delgado (Venezuela), P. Grochulski (Canada), K. A. Kantardjieff (USA), P. Karthe (India), K. Lawniczak-Jablonska (Poland), J. L. Martin (Australia), S. Ravy (France), M. Takata (Japan), A. E. Voloshin (Russia), M. S. Weiss (Germany).

Updates of this list are still possible, and information about other nominees for Commissions etc. will be furnished by Mike Dacombe from the Chester office. Mike will retire after our XXIV IUCr Congress in Hyderabad. Mike has managed 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 read about our new Executive Secretary Alex Ashcroft in this Newsletter (article here). Please pass on your personal thanks to Mike for his service to the IUCr when you see him in Hyderabad.

Of course, the major event for us is the IUCr XXIV Congress in Hyderabad from August 21 to 28, which will be attended by delegates from at least 70 different nations, including 10 from LACA countries and 9 from Africa. Gautam Desiraju and his colleagues have put together an excellent programme for us, and a mobile app containing all itinerary and venue details is available to registered delegates. Here are some additional highlights for the upcoming Congress:

  • Parallel programmes will be held, e.g. Dragon's Den - young researchers will present their research to a panel of experts with the winners receiving a grant of INR 150,000 (approx. $2300) to fund their project; Salt of the Earth - explore various aspects of sodium chloride, supplemented by the Mega Structure Build where the world's largest crystal structure model of sodium chloride will be exhibited inside the venue of the Congress; Academia/Industry/Government Collaborations in Drug Design and Drug Development.
  • Meetings of the regional associates may be held outside the lunch hours and as a part of the parallel programme that runs concurrent with the microsymposia.
  • A large area, 52.5 m by 58 m, will be dedicated to exhibition and poster presentations. e-Posters, in addition to physical posters, will make their appearance for the first time in an IUCr Congress.

As we look forward to seeing many old friends and colleagues in Hyderabad, we also remember those who are no longer with us that have given so much to support our community. I will mention only Davide Viterbo (1939-2017) who passed away on May 20 and Philip Coppens (1930-2017) who passed on June 21. Davide was president of the Italian Crystallographic Association from 1997 to 1999, a member of the IUCr EC from 2002 to 2008, and recently chaired our Ewald Prize selection committee. Phil served on the IUCr EC from 1987 to 1999 (President from 1993 to 1996), was a Co-editor of Acta A and J. Synchrotron Rad., and awarded the Ewald Prize in 2005. Both leave a legacy of students and a wealth of service to the IUCr.

Thank you for your continued contributions of our collective mission to support and advance crystallography around the world. The encouragement I have received and the friendships made during my time of service to the IUCr have been more rewarding than my words can describe. I urge you to support the success of the IUCr, get involved - make a difference. I look forward to seeing many of you soon in Hyderabad.

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