Latin American Crystallographic Association activities in 2022: V Meeting and School in Costa Rica

Andrea Araya-SibajaMelissa Camacho-ElizondoJose Vega-Baudrit

In 2022, the Latin American Crystallography Association (LACA) had its V Meeting and V School run in a hybrid format in Costa Rica. Both events were supported by the IUCr and chaired by Andrea Araya, a researcher at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LANOTEC), Costa Rica. The IUCr President, Dr Hanna Dabkowska, participated in these events and said a few words and gave a short talk in the opening ceremonies.

V LACA Meeting

The meeting was organized and ran concurrently with the Costa Rican Chemistry Congress 2022, which took place from 28 to 30 November at the University of Costa Rica. The V LACA Meeting and Congress sessions occurred in parallel, with the V LACA Meeting sessions being held in the Auditorium of the Plaza de la Autonomía, and the Congress sessions in the Aula Magna, just in front of the Auditorium.

The V LACA Meeting included plenary lectures from recognized crystallographers participating in person and virtually: Hanna Dabkowska (Canada, in person), Jennifer Swift (USA, virtual), Abel Moreno (Mexico, virtual), James Kaduk (USA, in person) and Tom Blanton (USA, in person). In addition, the meeting included semi-plenaries, oral presentations and short oral presentations instead of posters, considering the virtual component of the meeting, mainly for participants who attended remotely. From the sessions of oral and short oral presentations, four prizes by IUCr Journals and one by the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) were awarded. The IUCr Applied Crystallography prize went to Teresa García Mendoza (Institute of Technology of Oaxaca, Mexico), the Structural Chemistry prizes went to Eduardo Gutiérrez (Institute of Chemistry of San Luis, Argentina) and Analio José Dugarte (University of Los Andes, Venezuela), and an Honorary Mention went to Cristian Giusseppe Albarracin (Industrial University of Santander, Colombia). Finally, the CCDC prize was awarded to Julian Ticona Chambi (Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil).

[Fig. 1]
IUCr and CCDC prize awardees: (a) Eduardo Gutiérrez (left) and Teresa García Mendoza, (b) Analio José Dugarte (on screen), (c) Cristian Giusseppe Albarracin (on screen) and (d) Julian Ticona.

A total of 40 participants, 26 in person and 14 virtual from 13 countries, attended the meeting. The countries included Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, the USA and Venezuela. Thirteen students and young scientists received travel and subsistence support from the IUCr to attend the meeting in person. Unfortunately, the gender balance was similar to past events, with a nearly 40:60 female:male ratio. 

[Fig. 2]
Official photo of the V LACA Meeting.

During the meeting, the Costa Rican Union of Crystallographers Assembly took place with the new authorities elected to the national committee by Andrea Araya and José Roberto Vega Baudrit (LANOTEC), Cristian Campos and Jenny Calderón (UCR), Bryan Moncada and José Saavedra (UNA), Jeimy González (ITCR) and Javier Rodríguez Yañez (UNED). The discussion focused on forthcoming activities and the commitments needed to strengthen collaboration between laboratories to grow the Costa Rican crystallography community.

The LACA Assembly also took place during the meeting. The LACA President, José Reyes-Gasga (Mexico), reported on activities carried out in 2020–2022, and one representative per country presented the specific activities in each country. Professor Moreno discussed the proposal to host the 2032 IUCr Congress and General Assembly in Mexico, previously approved by the LACA Assembly. The LACA Assembly ratified the VI LACA Meeting, which will be hosted in Uruguay in 2024, and the 2026 event was also discussed. 

V LACA School

The school, named “Polymorphism: applications in industry”, was held from 1 to 3 December at the Costa Rica National Center for High Technology (CeNAT) facilities and hosted by LANOTEC. The program included lectures from Introduction to Polymorphism to Polymorphism in the Courtroom, including polymorphism in pharmaceuticals, nanomaterials, minerals, metals and inorganics, and characterization techniques using single-crystal and powder X-ray diffraction and complementary techniques taught by 13 international instructors. In addition, the International Centre for Diffraction Data (ICDD) and CCDC databases provided workshops. These workshops were possible because of the licenses provided by the ICDD and the CCDC, respectively. 

[Fig. 3]
Dr Hanna Dabkowska talking in the opening ceremony (left) and students working at the CCDC workshop, both at CeNAT facilities.

A total of 28 students and young scientists from 13 Latin American countries – Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, USA and Costa Rica – attended the school. Regarding the type of participation, it was very equilibrated, with 15 participants attending in person and 13 attending the school virtually. Participation in person was possible for 13 participants thanks to IUCr funding, which was used to cover their travel and lodging expenses. Finally, the female-to-male ratio for the participants was 40 to 60 in the school.

[Fig. 4]
Official photo of the V LACA School.
8 March 2023

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