Best wishes for 2023

Hanna Dąbkowska
LACA V poster-prize award ceremony. Eduardo Gutierrez (second from right) receives his IUCr Journals/structural chemistry prize from IUCr President Hanna Dabkowska (far right) and IUCr Executive Committee member Graciela Díaz de Delgado (third from right). Also pictured (from left): Natalia Alvarez, Session Chair; Andrea Araya, Conference Chair; and José Reyes-Gasga, LACA President.

Here we are approaching the end of 2022. Already. Some of us are getting ready for Christmas (or at least for a short vacation and some family time), others just want to finish this year and move to a new one.

Whereas internet teaching and hybrid meetings will stay with us for good we can now plan for limited travel and for some irreplaceable gatherings in person.

I am just back from the Fifth Meeting of the Latin American Crystallographic Association (LACA), very well organized in a hybrid mode by Andrea Araya in San José in Costa Rica. A lot of progress has been made since the creation of LACA in 2013. Some legal aspects still have to be smoothed out but the energy of the crystallographers there cannot be underestimated. The Fifth LACA School, organized by Andrea Araya and José Reyes-Gasga on the subject of “Polymorphism: Applications in Industry”, was hosted in the Costa Rica National Center for High Technology facilities (hybrid again). It was well attended by students from the LACA region.

In Africa the OpenLab program is slowly coming back after the COVID-induced break. We hope for the active involvement of all the major vendors of crystallographic equipment. Claude Lecomte has organized the first, very successful OpenLab in Mauritania in November 2022; the next one will be coming in May 2023 in Franceville (Gabon). Michele Zema, the IUCr Executive Outreach Officer, has reported that 15 students from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal as well as Jamaica and India were selected to participate in the two-week training session on single-crystal diffraction at the X-TechLab in Benin from 21 November to 2 December 2022. Students could bring their own crystals and collect data using the new Bruker AXS D8 Eco diffractometer, which was also used for tutorials and demonstrations. The X-TechLab, funded by the Benin Government and whose implementation was facilitated by IUCr–IUPAP–ICTP LAAAMP within the framework of the IUCr-UNESCO OpenLab, is now operational and open for collaborations with researchers from all over Africa. New instruments, including a Panalytical Empyrean powder diffractometer and a microtomograph, will be installed soon and available starting from early next year.

The world is still not a safe place. A brutal war is raging in Ukraina. The scientific community is trying to help displaced Ukrainian researchers. The Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS) and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences have recently launched a grant program to support Ukrainian research teams. The design of the grant program allows scholars in Ukraine to continue research under the supervision of experienced principal investigators from Ukraine, hosted for up to three years at the PAS. The deadline for grant applications is 16 January 2023.

In Ethiopia we have just had to cancel the IUCr–COSPAR Workshop ”Crystallography for Space Sciences” due to safety concerns. In Iran and other places in the world men and women are fighting for political and social freedom. In Afghanistan women are recently being forbidden to study at the Universities. 

As a member of the International Science Council (ISC), the IUCr supports the right to share in and to benefit from advances in science and technology as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it is very concerned about increasing threats to scientific freedom and other human rights around the world.  

At the forthcoming IUCr Congress in Melbourne in August 2023, the General Assembly delegates will vote on formally incorporating our fifth Regional Associate, the African Crystallographic Association (AfCA) – constituted in November 2021. To commemorate this special event, and to mark the 75th anniversary of the first IUCr Congress and the first volume of Acta Crystallographica, IUCr Journals are planning to put together a special collection of articles from African researchers, which will be published online to coincide with the Congress.

Please plan to come to Melbourne; it will be an amazing Congress, with many attractions and a very strong program. The abstract submission deadline has been extended to 21 February 2023 so there is still time to present your best results. In recognition of retired crystallographers’ long-term dedication and outstanding contributions to our community, the Congress Organizers have decided to offer them a reduced registration fee. The retiree rate is only available for the Early Bird period, which ends on 31 March 2023. The IUCr President's Fund application deadline is 18 March 2023.

If you have a free minute during the holiday break, please check your entry in the World Directory of Crystallographers (WDC). There is a chance that it has not been updated for some time. If you are a Commission Chair, please also check to see if your Members and Consultants are included in the WDC. It all adds up to creating and strengthening this community.

I am also encouraging you all to start (or continue) participating in the IUCr Crystal growing competition for schoolchildren. Other international scientific organizations are copying this very successful program and we are very proud of this fact. Elementary and high-school students need to understand at an early age the beauty of science, and there is a lot of satisfaction from the side of students and coaches when amazing crystals are being presented and highly prized on international forums! See a report from Poland in an earlier issue of the IUCr Newsletter here and one from Vietnam in this issue here.

With the end of December approaching fast I want to wish you all a happy and joyful 2023. We intend to make it a successful and important Congress Year. We just hope it will also be healthy and safe.

21 December 2022

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