72nd Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association (ACA2022)

Brandon Q. Mercado

The 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association was held in Portland, OR, USA. The scientific program spanned 30 July–3 August 2022, with associated workshops on 29 July. The program consisted of 40 scientific sessions, 2 evening sessions, 3 poster sessions, 8 workshops and a 3-minute thesis competition. This meeting hosted several firsts for attendees, including an art exhibit with 24 contributions viewable at the final poster session and awards banquet. All attendees wore masks and enjoyed a safe return to interacting with booth hosts in the exhibition hall. Thanks to the remarkable work of many volunteers and organizers, ACA2022 was able to offer all sessions as in-person, with some in-person and live-broadcast sessions with virtual participation. The meeting was well-attended, with over 500 registrants and over 200 workshop participants.

We are extremely proud and happy to relay that only four cases of COVID were reported during the meeting. According to our policy, those individuals did not return to the meeting space, and all close contacts were immediately notified. We received three reports of mild COVID cases in the 14 days following the meeting. This meeting was able to safely take place in-person thanks to the conscientious participation of everyone involved in wearing masks, sanitizing hands and respecting social distancing boundaries. Thank you to all meeting participants for helping to exceed our safety expectations!

The scientific program opened with a keynote address from David Baker, whose lecture was as engaging as it was wide-ranging. He spoke on the use of RoseTTAFold and related software to predict COVID binding molecules, targeted delivery with plug-proteins, designer molecular machines and many other topics. A panel of six researchers responsible for Professor Baker’s various projects fielded many questions from the attendees (Fig. 1). The following day opened with five simultaneous sessions. The two hybrid sessions focused on timely and highly publicized topics: COVID and Artificial Intelligence/Deep Learning. The Transactions Symposium, “The Role of Structural Science in Tackling a Pandemic: COVID-19 as a Paradigm,” expounded on many lessons we learned about COVID-19 and pandemics over the past two years. Next door, “Use of AI predicted Models in Structural Biology/Crystallography” expanded on many topics featured in the keynote. Minkyung Baek spoke more on the utilities of RoseTTAFold, while Thomas Terwilliger and Jennifer Madrigal dissected the details of AlphaFold. The subsequent three days continued with parallel scientific sessions and poster sessions.

[Fig. 1]
Figure 1. Question and answer session during David Baker’s keynote address at the welcome reception.

Another highlight of the meeting was the “What I Learned from my 1st Structures” session, in which presenters worked chronologically from youngest to oldest in sharing their early experiences. The session started with Shbham Dubey (Purdue), who gave a fabulous talk about her current graduate school adventures in working through her first structures of the Tpb system of pathogenic Neisseria. The more experienced presenters in the session mixed fun stories of their earliest crystallography experiences and how these experiences provided life lessons that impacted their personal and professional growth.

This year’s program truly embraced our new logo and name, ACA: The Structural Science Society. We saw more talks covering structural techniques outside of traditional crystallography, such as Flora Meilleur’s (Oak Ridge National Lab) talk about neutron diffraction in the “Hot Structures” session. We also saw more sessions covering various cryoEM methods, such as the “New Developments in cryoEM and cryoET: Towards Atomic Resolution” session, as well as the “MicroED of small and macromolecules” session (Fig. 2).

[Fig. 2]
Figure 2. Speakers and organizers of the session “MicroED of small and macromolecules.” Left to right: Anna Shiriaeva, Emma Danelius, Jungyoun Cho, Joseph Ferrara, Tamir Gonen, Jessica Bruhn, Anchi Cheng and Abhay Kotecha.

Details on this and future meetings can be found at www.acameeting.com. More information can be found at our social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram @ACAxtal, Facebook @AmerCrystalAssn or LinkedIn. In anticipation of an in-person meeting for 2023, please mark your calendars to join us 7–12 July in Baltimore, MD!


The ACA2022 Abstracts are available in a special supplement to Acta Cryst. A
21 September 2022

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