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Letter from the President

[Bill Duax]This issue of the Newsletter contains the call for papers for the XXth Congress and General Assembly of the IUCr. The Program Chair, Carlo Mealli, and the Program Committee, composed of representatives from all the Commissions of the Union, has prepared an exciting program that covers all areas of crystallography, from theory and instrumentation through applications in chemistry, biology, and material science and includes plenary lectures by internationally renowned scientists. Concern is often expressed that crystallography
has become routine and is losing its luster. The growth of existing national crystallographic associations, the emergence of new ones, the success of the annual meetings of the IUCr regional affiliates, the increased volume of crystal structures in worldwide databases, the growth in publications based on crystallographic studies, and the fact that crystallographic schools and workshops are consistently overbooked all suggest that our science is alive and well and that rumors of its demise are premature. In the past year I have had the privilege of observing this growth and vitality in all parts of the globe.

The German Crystallographic Assn held its Annual Meeting in Jena, March 15-19, 2004. This highly successful meeting featured 400 abstracts, 600 attendees and over 20 exhibits. All areas of crystallography were represented in the three-day program that often had five concurrent sessions. The Max von Laue Prize was awarded to Wolfram Saenger, attendance at the business meeting was over 100, and two new working groups (on interfaces and on inorganics) were formed.

The newly formed Moroccan Crystallographic Assn (AMC) organized a school in El Jadida, May 10-15, 2004. There were 125 attendees, about one third of which were women and half were students. The school was conducted in French and the instructors were primarily from France (nine) with one from Denmark and four from Morocco. A short meeting report appears on page 14. The convention center and hotel in Marrakech will provide a superb site for the fourteenth meeting of the European Crystallographic Assn (ECA) to be held in Morocco in 2007. This will provide a wonderful opportunity to advance international cooperation and understanding. Crystallographers in Morocco and other emerging countries are concerned about the cost of the IUCr Journals and International Tables and some crystallographic databases and would like to be able to access them at reduced prices. The students are concerned about future support for science and where they will be able to pursue a career in crystallography. The IUCr has a Journals Grants program that addresses this problem and we need to find more ways to ease the entry of new nations into the benefits of the Union.

On the 30th Anniversary of the first Erice Meeting (on Direct Methods of Crystal Structure Determination) schools on Polymorphism, organized by J. Bernstein and R. Davis, and Electron Diffraction, organized by J. Labar, T. Weirich, and X. Zou, were held in Erice, June 7-24, 2004. On behalf of the IUCr, I had the honor of welcoming the 200 attendees from 33 countries at a joint opening session. The Erice Schools, which epitomize the spirit of the IUCr, have been brilliantly organized for 30 years by Ludovico Riva di Sanseverino (and recently with Paola Spadon). They bring people from all nations together to educate the next generation of crystallographers.

The Asian Crystallographic Assn (AsCA) Meeting was held June 27-30, 2004 in Hong Kong. The 280 attendees came from 20 countries. There was a full three-day scientific program with eight plenary lectures and 70 oral presentations in three parallel sessions and 209 poster presentations. There was good representation in the program from powder, materials, and macromolecular science. Four of the 15 exhibitors, sponsored major functions [opening reception (PANalytical), a boat trip with dinner (Bruker Nonius), a banquet (Rigaku), and a closing champagne luncheon (MAR Research). (After the first thirteen courses at the Rigaku banquet, I went on a hunger strike). Crystallographers in Bangladesh, Singapore, and The Philippines who attended the meeting expressed interest in joining the IUCr. AsCA currently has 18 countries as members, only eight of which are IUCr member countries. In the past AsCA has met every three years and held a council meeting at the IUCr Congress. In 2003, a joint meeting of AsCA and the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand (SCANZ) initiated a new policy of meeting every third year in conjunction with a national meeting of a member country. The next of these joint meetings will be in 2006 when AsCA will meet jointly with the Crystallographic Society of Japan (CrSJ) in Tsukuba. Problems with no shows, keeping student fees low, strengthening ties between the regional affiliates, improving the AsCA website, and finding ways to sustain continuity were discussed at the business meeting.

The America Crystallographic Assn (ACA) meeting in Chicago, IL, July 17-22, 2004 was the second largest in ACA history (1213 participants). Among the highlights of the program were a crystal growth symposium honoring Fankuchen Award winner, A. McPherson; the first Supper Award given to N.-H. Xuong, recognizing his exceptional contribution to crystallographic instrumentation; the Margaret Etter Early Career Award presented to L. MacGillivary; and the Trueblood Award presented to R. Marsh. The Transactions symposium “Crystals in Supramolecular Chemistry” and the symposia honoring MacGillivary and Marsh were ample proof that chemical crystallography remains a robust and growing area. Full reports on these and all sessions of the ACA meeting appear in the ACA Newsletter and on its website. The program also included a full day workshop designed for high school students and teachers. The program was co-sponsored by the ACA and the RCSB PDB with H. Berman, Director of the RCSB, providing ideas and guidance.

Highlights of the ECA meeting held in Budapest, August 26- 31, 2004, included the awarding of the first Max Perutz Prize to G. Sheldrick for his contribution to automated methods of phase and structure determination and a session in memory of Jacek Gróchowski, whose tragic death is a blow to Polish crystallographers and his many friends throughout the world. There were five concurrent sessions throughout the four-day meeting. The 60 attendees at the ECA council meeting included representatives from all current and potential member countries and the 13 special interest groups that organize the program for the annual meetings. ECA Chairman, H. Fuess described the renaming of the ECA Prize to the Perutz Prize, the planned periodic review of the structure and activities of the individual SIGs and possible reorganization of the program committees for future ECA meetings.

In light of the remarkable level of activity in the field of crystallography reflected in these national and international meetings, and the superb program for the XXth Congress and General Assembly outlined in the pages of this Newsletter, I urge all 15,000 readers of this Newsletter to make plans to be in Florence in August 2005.

Bill Duax