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The ECA Executive Committee’s ‘winter meeting’

[Participants]The Participants of the “Winter Meeting” of the Executive Committee of the European Crystallographic Association held this February in Budapest, Hungary on a pre-dinner ‘chance-to-relax’ evening walk in the Buda Castle. From left to right:Radomir Kuzel (Treasurer), Petra Bombicz (Secretary), Massimo Nespolo (Webmaster), Hartmut Fuess (Past-President), Abdelmalek Thalal (ECM24 representative), John R. Helliwell (President), Sine Larsen (Vice-President), Luc van Meervelt, Santiago Garcia-Granda and Andreas Roodt (Officers).
Opening the Meeting the President, John R Helliwell, drew attention to the 60th anniversary of IUCr and hearty congratulations and applause were offered. A key matter arising from the ECM24 August 2007 Exec Meeting was the proposal by Yuji Ohashi, IUCr President, to introduce a new category of adherence at the IUCr General Assembly. With the happy endorsement of the ECA Council at ECM24 the identified grouping of countries (ie ECA member but IUCr non-member countries.: Latvia, Turkey, Ukraine, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) has now agreed to join the ECA-supported grouping.

A vivid discussion during the meeting on overall ECA strategy was initiated by John Helliwell who stated the four key aspects: 1. Working with the European and African National Societies to ‘Add value’ but not replace them; 2. Promote continuing professional development of crystallographers via ECMs and training workshops; 3. Foster the study and detailed understanding of crystallography; 4. Diligently provide ECA input to the key European science decision making bodies (e.g. the EC, the ESF, the Innovation for Science in Europe organisation etc) whenever possible. The discussion naturally also assessed the ECA’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. One threat clearly seen by the Exec Members is the need to increase efforts on the education of the future generations of crystallographers with increased activity needed at all levels. The efforts of the ECA could immediately focus on supporting an initiative within Spain (led by Juan Manuel García-Ruiz and Santiago García-Granda) that could readily lead to the establishment of a European undergraduate/graduate school of crystallography. An education coordinator was identified as being needed and Massimo Nespolo agreed to immediately assume this role to coordinate ECA’s efforts and report to the next ECA Council Meeting during the IUCr Congress in Osaka.

A wide variety of Exec Committee ‘regular business’ also took place and included for example: 1. The funding applications of the organizers of schools, conferences, and workshops to ECA should be supported by a letter from at least one SIG chair; 2. Santiago Garcia-Granda proposed a metrics evidence based system for monitoring the performance of the SIGs that would allow strategically focussed discussions during the Osaka ECA Council Meeting, including any proposed changes in the SIGs; 3. A review of the 2007 ECM24 in Marrakech including final details, registration numbers and the finances that was presented by Abdelmalek Thalal. The successful financial outcome of ECM24 along with the excellent scientific program drew congratulations and applause from the Committee members; 4. The attendance of the ECM25 representative Engin Ozdas with Engin Kendi conferenced in by phone from Istanbul, led to finalised plans for ECM25.

For information on the European Crystallographic Association please visit the ECANews website: