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ACA 2000, St. Paul student views

Comments from recipients of the ACA 2000 travel grants


As a graduate student new to the field of crystallography, I was struck by the breadth of scientific research that utilizes the technique. From small-molecule to macromolecule crystallography, through technical advances in synchrotron radiation, I was stunned by the number of different lenses through which scientists see crystallography. Who would have predicted that a crystallography conference could double as a 5 day crash course in biology?

Raquel Lieberman, Northwestern U.

The feedback that I received from my poster presentation was incredible. Everyone was very supportive and offered valuable suggestions for future research. Prior to attending the ACA meeting I had been planning to apply to medical school. However, when I returned from the meeting I realized that I was not yet ready to give up research and I am now planning to pursue some sort of graduate work in the biomedical field when I graduate this spring.
Andrea Jorjorian, College of Wooster

I was particularly keen on talks exploring the direct applications of X-ray crystallographic methods in the design of drug molecules. It was an inspiring experience to meet and talk to people who belong to the crystallographic Hall of Fame, particularly Lyle Jensen, whose beautifully written 'X-ray structure determination', co-authored with George Stout, helped me to understand a number of abstract concepts in X-ray crystallography.
Eliud Oloo, U. of Saskatchewan, Canada

I obtained advice that has definitely accelerated the completion of my project. Thank you Dr. Stanfield and Dr. Greasley.
Johanna Mazlo, U. of Nebraska

..... I especially enjoyed the discussions with twinning experts Bob Sparks and Vic Young about my quadruply twinned crystal problems.

Sean X. Ouyang, Texas A&M U.

I was quite surprised by the extent of macromolecular crystallography in the meeting. For me personally, it was very important to participate in such a meeting, for I am 'on the way' from small to large molecules. The meeting exhibitions provided direct contact with companies working in the field. I found, in particular, very interesting and helpful information about 'Conquest', new software from Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre. After the meeting I started to use it successfully at my home university.
Igor Fritsky, U. Heidelberg, Germany

At first glance, I found myself in a 'wrong' place where macromolecules dominate crystallography (some people complain about this). On the other hand, it was a nice chance to be stimulated in another environment where I can design my version of experiments and analyses. I believe many young scientists, including myself, enjoyed exposure to the variety of crystallography provided by the Poster Preview session, organized so well by Jeff Habel.
Yongjae Lee, SUNY Stony Brook

I met people from academia and industry, and was able to discuss the differences in the two career environments. The employment outlook session put on by the Young Scientist SIG was full of valuable information. I am always surprised by the friendly people at ACA meetings. It's not like that at every meeting you go to.
Joanna Clark, U. of Nebraska

I entered my poster with the hope for helpful comments, and with the ACA travel award, I was able to actually show up in St. Paul to hear such advice - from people such as Alexander McPherson, Robert Sweet, Bob Cudney, Don Voet, Lisa Edberg, and Kris Tesh. And while great progress was made on the research end, the ACA meeting was also filled with endless fun - booze and dancing at the MSC dinner. Greeting Snoopy around every corner, harassing the genetics activists, and reminiscing about Howard Hughes. One thought still lingers...is anyone going to answer Wim Hol's question 'Mr. Steitz, how do you think life was created in light of your ribosome structure?' Guess we'll all have to show up in Los Angeles to find out.
Chris Bunick, Vanderbilt U

The conference provided a lot more than an interesting collection of presentations. For example, unlike most I got to see Dr. BC Wang's rendition of YMCA at the MSC dinner. Shhh! Don't tell anyone but I escaped from the confines of the macromolecular world and I spent the evening with the small molecule group at the Mentor/Mentee dinner.
Jeff Lovelace, U. of Toledo