Our IUCr 2017 travel grant winner reports back!

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22 October, 2017

Firmly established in the field of Crystallography since the 1930s, central India was the perfect location for the 24th Congress & General Assembly of the International Union of Crystallography 2017. In fact, the city of Hyderabad is so proud of its scientific history that its iconic architectural symbol, the Charminar (or ‘four minarets’) was based on the tetragonal crystal system.
Image of the Charminar

Image of the world’s largest NaCl crystal structure

The congress attracted a large number of attendees, having 1757 abstracts from 1827 registrants. More than 700 posters describing advances across the breadth of crystallographic research were displayed in the expo area. The opening ceremony set the tone with the 11th Ewald Prize lecture by Sir Tom Blundell of the University of Cambridge and an unveiling of the world’s largest NaCl crystal structure (brought from Vienna by creator Dr. Robert Krickl).

Speakers such as Richard Henderson (now a Nobel prize Winner, from MRC, Cambridge, UK) and Leonid Sazanov (IST, Austria) covered topics such as CryoEM and respiratory complex 1, to imaging protein dynamics. One lucky delegate enjoying the talks was our IUCr2017 travel grant winner Nicole Bertoletti from Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany (pictured below with the TTP Labtech team) who kindly shared her experience of the event:

Nicole, what did you enjoy most about the conference?
I really enjoyed the diversity of the program which covered the vast majority of the crystallographic aspects for chemical biology, but also some off-topic items like “the crystallography on Mars".

Image of the Nicole and the TTP Labtech teamWhat are the latest trends that other researchers should keep an eye out for?
Definitely CryoEM is emerging and we will hear a lot about it over the next few years.

What did you find from the conference that will be most relevant and/or useful to your research?
During the conference, I had the opportunity to be part of several workshops and learn new software. Moreover, I attended a lot of extremely inspiring talks that have broadened my knowledge in macromolecular crystallography. 

Did you gain any other useful insights from any talks or peer to peer conversations?
I found it really useful to talk with some of my peers and talk about the different types of experiments conducted in different labs.

What did you find most surprising about the event?
I was really surprised by the diversity of scientists and students joining the event from around the world.

Was anything missing or could anything have been done better?
I think was everything about right. However, they could have planned a longer poster session and not only during the lunch and coffee breaks.

Would it be worth going to the conference again next year? IUCr is held once every three years and in 2020 will be in Prague. I am planning to go to the conference in 2020 and, if it possible, also in 2023 in Melbourne.

Image of Bollywood Gala Dinner dancers

The congress also featured a ‘Dragons’ Den’ competition for young crystallographers’ research ideas and a forward-thinking student outreach program and a spectacular Bollywood themed Gala dinner; 

with henna hand painting, street artisans demonstrating their skills and professional dancers putting on a performance full of the color and glamor of Bollywood. As the curtain has dropped on the scientific and entertainment programs in Hyderabad, we turn out sights to Prague 2020 and look forward to seeing you all there!

If you would like to know more about the crystallography in space project, click here to read the IUCr blog.