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XXIUCr is over! - Arrivederci to Osaka

[Florence logo]Based on comments from a number of participants, the XX IUCr Congress was a huge success. As organizers, we are proud to say that in spite of the record numbers of participants everything ran very smoothly. The general consensus was that the quality of both the scientific program and the social events was exceptional.

We hosted approximately 3000 participants from 62 countries. About 200 of the total were accompanying persons. Of the remaining 2800 attendees, one fourth were students. As many as 450 bursaries were distributed, thanks to the generous contributions of the Marie-Curie Actions (European Commission), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the IUCr, the British and Italian Crystallographic Associations, and the local student support organization (ARDSU), which arranged for economic yet comfortable accommodations. A number of individual countries also sponsored student travel.

We wish to thank all the chairs and speakers for deferring any kind of financial support which made it possible for us to assist younger or under privileged participants and to focus spending on the services that were appreciated by all attendees. In this respect, we made an unprecedented experiment at an IUCr Congress by including the cost of lunch in the registration fee. Having lunch on site also favored the programs taking place during the midday breaks which were particularly hectic (open commission meetings, reunions of various councils, poster sessions, computer fayre, etc). Serving quick and high quality lunches increased participation in these activities and created an extremely friendly environment that was carried over to the various nightly events. The Congress banquet at the Boboli Garden which required only a symbolic booking fee provided the perfect atmosphere for an electric and memorable event.

Also contributing to the success of the Congress was the tailored combination of frontier scientific research (brought to Florence by the multidisciplinary crystallographic community) and art, for which Florence is a cradle. Initiatives in this area such as the Microsymposia on Art and Crystallography and on Crystallography and Cultural Heritage were very successful. The latter was so stimulating that a group of participants agreed to form a homonymous commission within the IUCr to study the topic. Also along the artistic line, the musical events (during the Opening Ceremony and the Concert of Aug. 27th) were both quite appreciated and acclaimed.

The scientific program, assembled thanks to the cooperation and competence of the international committee, was a great success. It started with the excellent presentation by the winner of the 7th Ewald Prize (Philip Coppens) during the opening ceremony. At this time, the first IUCr prize for exceptional service to Crystallography was also announced and the winner, Lodovico Riva di Sanseverino, received the award during the banquet. Overall the program consisted of 527 lectures, among which were three by Nobel Laureates (R. Hoffmann, H. Kroto and A. Zewail). It would be no surprise if some other distinguished speaker at this Congress is awarded the Nobel Prize in the future.

Ienco, Rossi, Paoli, Guerri, MealliAndrea Ienco, Patrizia Rossi, Paola Paoli, Annalisa Guerri, and Carlo Mealli.
Of the 98 microsymposia we have already mentioned those having artistic themes, but essentially all of the others were of such high quality that it would be impossible to establish an order of merit. It suffices to point out that 22 MS dealt with biological macromolecules, 14 with structural chemistry, 9 with crystallographic computing, and 9 with powder diffraction. Topics such as mineralogy, high pressure, neutron diffraction, aperiodic crystals and small angle scattering were also well represented. About 230 different posters per day were on display, their high quality being testified to by the continuous overcrowding in the poster area. Several poster prizes were issued by different institutions and companies. It is certain that the judges faced a very difficult task in selecting the winners. Last but not least it is important to mention the relevance of the exhibition which attracted many interested visitors. The exhibitors were also appreciative of the large spaces allotted to them and of the arrangement of the stands. The congress held its audience until the last moment as seen by a large number of people at the closing ceremony, during which the poster prizes were awarded. An ideal bridge was built between Florence 2005 and Osaka 2008 thanks to the presence of the newly elected IUCr President Yuji Ohashi, to whom we wish a fruitful mandate. Our warmest thanks also go Past President William Duax, who always trusted and encouraged us, for help in making a success of the XX IUCr Congress. Since the Congress, we have received many messages of appreciation and congratulations. One of them (quoted) was particularly touching for us because it reflects the feelings of someone who was active in both the scientific programme and the commercial exhibition.

Our most sincere thanks go to all the people who helped us in this endeavour. Beside our own institutions, CNR and the U. of Florence, we wish to mention our closest collaborators (Andrea Ienco, Patrizia Rossi and Annalisa Guerri), the members of the local organizing committee, the institutional and commercial sponsors and the organizing secretariat (Newtours SpA).

Carlo Mealli and Paola Paoli


 ...”When things go badly, people can be very quick to criticise. When things go well, rather fewer people take time to say well done. I know this because we run a service industry at the CCDC!! I want to say that the Firenze Meeting was a huge success. It was very well organised at an excellent site. It was smooth, and everyone I spoke to was full of praise. Your colleagues and staff were helpful and friendly. You have performed a service to crystallography in all its aspects. Please tell your colleagues and the staff of the conference bureau that it was much appreciated (by CCDC at least!). Thanks.”

Frank H. Allen, Executive Director of the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre)

 ...“On behalf of the Spanish Crystallography Committee, I would like to thank you for the enormous efforts that you have made, together with Paola Paoli, which enabled the 20th UICr Congress in Florence to be such a total success. All the Spanish crystallographers felt very much at home at the conference...”


“I would like to thanks everything for all! I was very happy in Firenze. Thank you the bursary, this was the only chance for me to be at the Congress. This meeting was absolutely useful to keep in contact and to find a post doc position for me. So thank you again your helpful works! Firenze is really a diamond in Italy...”

Niki Bathori

I very much enjoyed the IUCr2005 congress in the beautiful city of Florence. The participants, lectures, posters, discussions, the opening ceremony (parade and welcome cocktail), the Art and Crystallography exhibition and the concert were all most interesting and stimulating...

Chava Brender