Report from the 1st Meeting of the DGK’s Young Crystallographers

by Julia Ilina

The first time I heard about the Young Crystallographers was at the 22nd Annual Conference of the DGK in Berlin. During a thirty-minute meeting between the DGK sessions, a small group of young and ambitious scientists announced the launching of a new DGK initiative aimed at improving and actively supporting knowledge exchange between young crystallographers from different fields all around the world. Every interested young crystallographer was invited [and encouraged] to participate in a first knowledge exchange-based event scheduled for late September in Bremen. Said and done: six months later I found myself, a young PhD student of structural biology – and now a proud participant of the first event of this exciting new initiative – on the train to Bremen, eagerly anticipating to meet the other young crystallographers.

The first meeting of the DGK’s Young Crystallographers accommodated three honored speakers from the academic field, twenty-eight young fellows (mostly PhD students and PostDocs), four industry representatives and dozens of other participants behind the scenes that were responsible for the smooth event organization. Every participant was supplied with a pamphlet including the detailed conference schedule, leaflets with information about the sponsors, writing utensils, and a city map. The conference took place in Bremen between 28 and 30 of September 2014 and was structured into three main thematic blocks:
• lectures and lightning talks
• poster sessions
• entertainment program.

The first day of the meeting started with a cozy barbecue at the campus Universität Bremen where all the participants could get to know each other before the official academic program began.

The second day started with welcome greetings from Prof. Thorsten Gesing from the Universität Bremen, followed by a lecture of the mentor of the Young Crystallographers Prof. Ulli Englert from RWTH Aachen University. He spoke about difficulties in the relationship between crystal structures and properties. The afternoon session was highlighted by the lecture of the Max von Laue awardee Dr. Tilmann Leisegang from Fraunhofer-THM presenting the latest results of an X-ray absorption spectroscopy study based on the YMNFeO5 system. At the end of each lecture the audience had the chance to ask questions and make comments.
One of the greatest opportunities given to every participant of the meeting was the possibility to present his own project in front of the competent and multi-disciplinary audience. Within only five minutes each speaker was asked to explain the matter of his research using a power-point presentation. This built up a platform for the following discussion during the two-hour poster session that was scheduled right after the lightning talks. All talks were divided thematically into three groups: the first two groups were dedicated to “Structures and properties” and were held on the second day of the meeting after the lectures of the invited speakers.

Despite quite an extensive “academic part” of the second meeting day, an exciting entertainment program was still on the list: great dinner in a traditional Bremen tavern and a magical walking tour with the night watchman through the sleeping city.

The third day of the conference started with an exciting lecture about the higher-dimensional superspace approach that was held by Prof. Andreas Schönleber from the University of Bayreuth. The student lightening talks and the following poster session were addressed to “Methods and processes” in crystallography. A great idea of the organizers of the conference was to invite representatives from the industry in order to give an insight to pros and cons of working at the university compared to working in the industry. Alexander Gerisch from Bruker AXS, Lars Grieger from PANalytical, Dubravka Sisak Jung from Dectris and Thomas Hartmann from STOE each gave a twenty-minute presentation highlighting the expectations from young crystallographers in an industrial environment.

The official part of the first meeting of the DGK’s Young Crystallographers was finished with an award ceremony: five lightening talks and corresponding posters were acknowledged with very memorable gifts.

Just as expected the last day of the conference was filled with amazing entertaining activities: the excursion to the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity followed by a solemn dinner and blacklight mini golf in Bremen’s harbor.

Thanks to the excellent organization of Dr. Hanna Lührs, Dr. Michael Fischer, Dr. Oliver Pecher, Dr. Julia Dshemuchadse and many others, I, as a participant, not only broadened my knowledge in crystallography, met interesting people from the industry and the field of academic research, but I also got to know the beautiful city of Bremen. Very important to mention is the contribution of the sponsors (DGK, FCI, Universität Bremen, STOE, Bruker, Dectris, PANalytical, Sanofi) for funding all conference costs.

see also the meeting webpage

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