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Letter from the President

[Yuji Ohashi]
Plans are moving ahead for the 21st IUCr Congress in Osaka in 2008. Recently, Y Fujii, Chair of the International Programme Committee (IPC), presented the Executive Committee with a list of 26 candidates for the IPC that had been selected from names submitted by the 17 scientific Commissions of the IUCr. Since the candidates had been selected considering scientific, geophysical and gender balances, they were immediately approved by the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee has already asked the IUCr Commissions and the adhering National Committees to send suggestions for keynote lecturers and topics, chairs and co-chairs for Microsymposia to the IPC by the end of February this year. Suggestions are also welcome from individual members of the crystallographic community. The IPC will select the candidates at their meeting to be held this May or June in Osaka. The Chair of the IPC strongly suggested that the Commissions propose joint Microsymposia in order to encourage new areas of interdisciplinary research.

The Executive Committee has approved the following programme guidelines that were developed for the Florence Congress:

(1) IPC members should not speak in or chair any session they organize. They should avoid any possible conflict of interest in selecting keynote speakers and Microsymposia chairs.

(2) Keynote speakers at any of the previous two IUCr Congresses must not be invited as Keynote speakers unless there are exceptional circumstances. However, they can be invited to chair or speak in a Microsymposium. It is also acceptable to select a keynote speaker from those who have given oral presentations in Microsymposia at previous Congresses.

(3) Anyone who has chaired, or co-chaired a Microsymposium at any of the two previous Congresses is not eligible to be a chair or co-chair in Osaka. However, they may give talks.

(4) Strong emphasis should be given to provide a programme that is balanced with respect to gender and nationality.

(5) It is recommended that only one speaker from a given Institution is selected for a given Microsymposium.

(6) Chairs and co-chairs of Microsymposia should be excluded from speaking in their own sessions and from sessions on the same subject. The same restriction applies for co-workers of chairs and co-chairs.

(7) A maximum of two speakers for each Microsymposium should be invited with the remainder to be selected from submitted abstracts.

I personally think the above guidelines are too strict to create a programme of the highest scientific value. If someone is invited to be a keynote lecturer or to chair a Microsymposium, he or she cannot be invited to be a keynote lecturer or Microsymposium chair, respectively, until nine years later. Since the progress of crystallography is becoming faster, nine years seems too long. However, the IUCr Congress should provide opportunities to highlight new crystallographic developments and to encourage young scientists and scientists from developing countries. The keynote lecturers and the chairs of the Microsymposia should be invited from as wide a range of research fields as possible. We heartily expect that the IPC will provide a programme with the highest scientific value within the above guidelines.

In order to organize meetings that are not required to follow the above guidelines, the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) strongly suggests that the scientific Commissions should hold their satellite meetings before or after the Congress. I heard from the Japanese members of the scientific Commissions and the LOC members that they will strongly support holding satellite meetings near Osaka.

I am confident that the Osaka Congress will be held with the highest scientific values and with the attendance of scientists representing the broadest possible fields.

Yuji Ohashi,