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68th Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association: the impact of IUCr support

Gerald F. AudetteTiffany L. Kinnibrugh
[Rachel Johnson]
IUCr poster awardee Rachel Johnson (right) standing by her poster titled “EM studies of cytochrome bc1 to elucidate inhibitor binding”.

The Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association (ACA) was held from 20 to 24 July 2018 in Toronto, ON, Canada. The IUCr generously provided support in the amount of USD9000 to support travel to the meeting for our young scientists. In general, the meeting on a whole had 663 attendees from 26 countries. Of the 663 attendees, 560 were from the USA and Canada, while 113 (16%) were international. In terms of gender representation, 29% of attendees (193) were female.

In regards to the travel awards, in total there were 62 applicants for travel funds from the ACA and IUCr. All applications went through the ACA registration portal, and awardees were selected by the ACA Education Committee. Of the 62 applications received, 30 individuals were awarded travel funds from ACA/IUCr funds. Of these 30 awards, 12 were awarded from IUCr funds. Demographically, of the 12 IUCr travel awardees, 5 were female (42%) and 3 were international students (not USA/Canada). The average award for a domestic (Canada/USA) student was USD599, and international students received USD1200.

All IUCr and ACA travel awardees were requested to provide a statement regarding their attendance to the meeting and indication of the benefit of the awards to their attendance at the meeting. We have compiled the responses for the IUCr awardees, which are found below.

Rachel Johnson (University of Leeds, UK) received the IUCr poster award for the poster titled “EM studies of cytochrome bc1 to elucidate inhibitor binding”. In addition, she also received an IUCr travel award to help fund her trip.

We wish to again thank the IUCr for their generous support of funds to facilitate the travel of students to the 2018 ACA meeting. The support of the IUCr in assisting young scientists in attending the meeting is truly appreciated by the awardees, and the regular members who are thus provided the opportunity to interact with these up-and-coming scientists.

Awardee Statements

Mitchell DiPasquale (University of Windsor, ON, Canada)
As an early-career graduate student, the ACA annual meeting in Toronto was my first true conference experience. Being a soft matter researcher, the meeting offered an unparalleled experience to connect with not only leading researchers in my field, but also others in the crystallographic community. Moreover, the event created opportunities to develop myself as a researcher, as well as to interact with a diverse range of industries to discuss the application of current crystallographic technologies to the realm of soft matter. I was able to fully enjoy my first conference experience, partly owing to the travel funding from the ACA facilitating logistics. My experiences at the 2018 ACA Annual Meeting have undoubtedly pioneered my growth as a researcher, and I look forward to the experiences future meetings will bring.

[Speakers in Session 3.2.4]Speakers in Session 3.2.4: Scattering Strategies in Biomembrane Research. (Left to right) John Katsaras, Michael H.-L. Nguyen (IUCr travel awardee), Haden L. Scott, Frederick A. Heberle, Maikel C. Rheinstadter, Mitchell DiPasquale (IUCr travel awardee), Michihiro Nagao, Brett W. Rickeard and Drew Marquardt.

Rachel Johnson (University of Leeds, UK)
I am very grateful to the ACA/IUCr for providing me with the support to travel to the Annual Meeting in Toronto. At the meeting, the quality and diversity of the talks particularly impressed me. The workshop/talks on cryo-EM and the transactions symposium on structure-based drug discovery allowed me to build upon my current knowledge whilst providing me with new ideas to apply to my current PhD research project. Moreover, the diverse range of talks enabled me to engage in research with which I was unfamiliar. For instance, the session on crystallization on the International Space Station was a particular highlight. At the conference, I was also able to present my work in the form of a three-minute thesis talk and a poster presentation where I enjoyed discussing my work with colleagues from around the world. Presenting my work also enabled me to win my first poster prize, so I would like to once again thank the ACA/IUCr for their support.

Rebecca McAuliffe (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA)
Thank you again for the support to attend the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association. At this conference, I was able to present my research and network with several new research and industry groups. The Career Development session and the workshops were especially helpful. I was able to discuss different career opportunities that I had not previously explored, and I was able to learn new about software that will allow me to analyze my data more effectively. I am very grateful for this opportunity and hope to attend this conference again in the future.

Michael Hai-Luu Nguyen (University of Windsor, ON, Canada)
My time at the ACA conference held in Toronto this year was full of exuberant and thought-provoking moments. With the help from the ACA/IUCr travel award, accommodation planning was extremely straightforward and stress-free, allowing me to spend more of my time on my presentation and deciding which workshops I could attend to get the most benefit from this trip. As this was my first major presentation in front of premier experts, I was able to present not only my research but myself, as a researcher, to my colleagues, displaying my skills and potential as a future collaborator and contributor to the field. Moreover, the mixer and poster sessions were a great way for me to open my mind up to new research possibilities, as well as career opportunities (all the while making friends and forging connections is a bonus too!). For all these reasons and many more, I thank the ACA as well as those that made this event and award possible. Without it, I would not be as confident in myself as I am now.

[Michael Nguyen]IUCr travel awardee Michael Nguyen presenting his talk "Proteolipid Interactions: A Flip-Flop Perspective".

Joseph Caleb Chappell (Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA)
Attending and presenting at the ACA conference this year was an incredible opportunity for me and provided significant insight into my own research. Being able to interact with so many top notch crystallographers at once is such an exciting and stimulating experience, and one I won’t soon forget. I was also able to reconnect with friends I made at the 2017 ACA summer school, and of course meet some new ones! One aspect I particularly enjoy about the ACA meeting is the tightknit community of scientists the meeting generates, and for that reason and many more I will certainly be attending ACA meetings for the foreseeable future. Thank you to the ACA/IUCr for the funding that made it possible for me to attend this world class meeting.

Matthias Uthoff (University of Cologne, Germany)
Attending this meeting of the ACA was great and very inspiring. I have never presented my work at such a big and international conference before and I was able to start some interesting talks at my poster. During the meeting, I learned a lot about methods and facts related but also totally unrelated to my current research topic and work. It gave me an interesting overview of the field and will certainly aid me in finding a position after finishing my PhD. In addition, I was able to meet new people but also some I already knew from other meetings. Getting together (again) and exchanging our experiences was great. Thank you very much for this opportunity and the organization of this fantastic meeting. I could not have participated without your travel grant.

Jocelyn Newton (Brown University, Providence, RI, USA)
I am immensely thankful for receiving an IUCr travel grant to attend my first ACA meeting in Toronto. Through both the cryo-EM workshop and various sessions, I had the opportunity to learn about the emerging applications and challenges in X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM. Speakers in the Structural Biology of Pathogens and the Structural Biology of Inherited Metabolic Disorders sessions highlighted the importance of integrating various techniques in structural biology to understand the molecular mechanisms of disease. Throughout the conference, it was fascinating to learn how scientists are studying large macromolecular assemblies, such as the spliceosome and membrane protein networks, that were not previously amenable to structural studies. As I am concluding my PhD thesis project, I appreciated having the opportunity to talk with prominent scientists during the poster sessions and networking events to gain insight into both my current research and future career paths. I would like to reiterate my thanks to ACA and IUCr for making this experience possible.

Jahaun Azadmanesh (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA)
I would like to express my sincerest and deepest gratitude for the funding to attend the 2018 ACA conference in Toronto as a PhD student. Several experiences come to mind that I believe greatly contributed to my knowledge base as a crystallographer. First, I attended a workshop that taught attendees how to utilize programs for molecular modeling, which I believe is indeed a skill needed to be developed to express one’s work to the scientific community. Second, I had the opportunity to meet and converse with senior scientists in my field and received both valuable and encouraging advice for my area of study: neutron macromolecular crystallography. Third, I have instigated the use of new methods for my scientific work that I learned through the speakers at this conference. Through my experience as a student attending ACA conferences, I truly believe attending these meetings is a substantial opportunity to develop oneself as a scientist. Any student who attends will receive great benefits from the experience.

6 November 2018