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ECM-30 Bringing the crystallographic flame to Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland, August 2016

[Opening] Katharina Fromm and Jürg Schefer opening the ECM-30.

The European Crystallographic Meeting 2016 (ECM-30) was held August 28 - September 2, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. The opening ceremony was held in the congress center on Sunday, August 28. The 600 people in attendance were entertained with chemical experiments and intermezzi by the alp-horn trio Solodurum. The delegates were welcomed with talks from Katharina Fromm (meeting Chair), Mauro Dell'Ambrogio (Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation), Hans-Peter Wessels (Government of the Canton of Basel-City), Joël Mesot (Director of the Paul Scherrer Inst.), Piero Macchi (President of the Swiss Society for Crystallography) and Alessia Bacchi (President of the ECA). Udo Heinemann (Vice-president of the ECA) presented the ECA 9th Max Perutz Prize of ECA to Václav Petříček (Prague, Czech Republic) for 'his practical application of the theory of aperiodic and modulated structures in his computing system JANA'. The reception that followed in the exhibit hall was generously sponsored by the City of Basel.

[Perutz prize] ECA President Alessia Bacchi and Vice-president Udo Heinemann present the 9th Max Perutz Prize to Václav Petříček for his computing system JANA.

The 931 registrants from 47 countries included participants from Australia, Malaysia, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, USA and Korea. Close to one third of all participants were female, an upward trend which hopefully will continue in the future. 178 participants came from Switzerland, 166 from Germany, and 116 from the UK. The fact that 47 different countries were present shows that the mobility of scientists across borders is very important for our community.

Nobel laureates Ada Yonath (Jerusalem, Israel) and Jean-Marie Lehn (Strasbourg, France) gave fascinating plenary lectures framing the conference. ECM30 offered an excellent scientific program for physicists, chemists, biologists, mineralogists and, of course, crystallographers within 70 sessions, 300 oral presentations, 16 keynote lectures and two poster sessions based on more than 715 submitted abstracts.

For the first time, an ECM-science slam was organized, at which young scientists were asked to excite the audience with an entertaining 3-minute presentation of their work. The most successful presentation was determined based upon the audience wildly rattling plastic hand clappers (provided by STOE) as measured on an applause meter. At the end of this session, the 8th Erwin Felix Lewy Bertaut Prize (ECA/ENSA) was awarded to Linda Reinhard (Hamburg, Germany) for her extraordinary 'pioneering contributions to the crystallographic analysis of enzymes and the optimization of protein preparations for diffraction studies'.

ECM30 included eight satellite meetings held at universities or research centers:

  • PSI Powder Diffraction School PDS2016 - Modern Synchrotron Methods (Villigen, Switzerland)
  • Robert F. Stewart School on Electron Density and Related Properties (Nancy, France)
  • Young Crystallographers ECM-30 Satellite Meeting (Basel)
  • Crystallography in the Pharmaceutical Industry Workshop (Basel)
  • The CSD Python API: A Foundation for Innovation (Biocenter, U. of Basel)
  • High Data Rate MX Satellite Meeting (Biocenter, U. of Basel)
  • A Workshop on Methods in Crystallographic Computing (Lossburg-Wittendorf, Germany)
  • SMARTER 5 Meeting - Structure Elucidation by Combining Magnetic Resonance, Computational Modelling and Diffraction (U. of Bayreuth, Germany)

A special microsymposium, 'Teaching and Education', chaired by H. Flack (Geneva, Switzerland) and H. Stoeckli-Evans (Neuchâtel, Switzerland) and the creation of a general interest group on the topic reflects the intention of the ECA to support teaching young scientists.

At the closing session prizes were awarded to 21 young scientists. A list of the winners and the sponsors will be published on the ECA website ( After the conference, 70 participants used the opportunity to join a tour to visit the Swiss free-electron laser SwissFEL at the Paul Scherrer Inst., inaugurated on December 5, 2016.

Katharina M. Fromm and Jürg Schefer

Photo credits: ECM30 and W. L. Duax.

[Assorted photos]