By: Loes Kroon-Batenburg
The triannual IUCr congress was held this time 22-29 August, 2023 in Australia, a long-distance travel for most crystallographers. The number of attendees was a bit lower than usual (~1800) but still respectable. This year the 75th Anniversary of the IUCr is celebrated. A very well attended session was devoted to short talks by several Executive committee members and IUCr officers giving their memories on the rich history of the IUCr.
13th Ewald Prize Lecture went to Wayne A. Hendrickson who delivered his lecture “Facing the Phase problem”. In his work he contributed to solving the phase problem for protein crystal structures with MAD and SAD techniques. He also mentioned the importance of the work of Prof. Bijvoet on anomalous scattering, our founding father of crystallography in the Netherlands. There were three plenary lectures, 29 key notes lectures and 8 parallel micro symposia, twice per day. In addition, there were poster sessions and the Software Fayre (organized by Martin Lutz) was running each day. One of the keynote lectures was given by our member Elias Vlieg (RU Nijmegen) on “X-ray crystallography of solid-liquid interfaces”. He showed very interesting phenomena are going on at crystal surfaces that can be well studied with X-ray crystallography. Elias is president of the DAGG, the Dutch Association of Crystal Growth, and I am happy to let you know that next year we will have a joint NVK-DAGG meeting!
The delegates were no longer provided with program and abstracts on paper; they were accessible through a congress app. Although quite handy to not be dragging around a heavy bag, it was very hard to really get a good overview of what was going on each day. The conference center was huge. When I arrived the first day and entered the front door, it turned out I had to walk another 1 km inside the building to arrive at the reception desk. It was very pleasant to meet colleagues in real life, talk to them over coffee and have lively discussions. It is a relive after having had the Corona restrictions. The exhibition was not as large as usual, surely because of the costs involved in traveling and exporting material to Australia. However, happily, a good number of sponsors were present anyway; I find the exhibitions are always the heart of the meeting. There was also a cute fluffy guest that could be petted.
Martin Lutz and I were the Dutch National Committee representatives to the General Assembly and we had three long evenings discussing withdrawal of adhering bodies (mostly for financial reasons), voting for nominations of commission members and notably the admission of The African Crystallographic Association (AfCA) as a Regional Associate of the International Union of Crystallography. There was also a report about the achievements of the various IUCr journals, a very important source of income for the IUCr. The next IUCr meeting will be in Calgary in 2026 and it was decided that the 28th IUCr congress will be held in Berlin in 2029.
The winters in Melbourne are not that bad, just like a poor summer in the Netherlands, so it was nice to walk back and forth to the conference center which was located on a relaxed pedestrian area with cafés and restaurants close to the Yarra river. All in all, I found the very long traveling time was worth the effort!