By Linda Hollenbeck
I decided to become a member of the DGK after the first year of my master studies of crystallography at Ruhr-University Bochum. I was very excited to see that there was a group of Young Crystallographers who just had their first meeting the year before. Since then, I waited eagerly for the announcement of the next meeting. Earlier this year, I finally got an invitation letter. Although I didn’t even start my master thesis, I decided to go to this event to seize any opportunity of meeting new people and gain new insights into very different aspects in crystallography.
The second meeting of the DGK’s Young Crystallographers took place at the Humboldt University in Berlin between 21st and 23rd of September 2016. Twenty eight young crystallographers, mostly PhD students and PostDocs, from german universities but also from University of Cambridge (Great Britain), University of Casablanca (Morocco) and Federal University of Otuoke (Nigeria) found their way to Berlin. Additionally, the appearance of three industry representatives and four honoured speakers from the academic field contributed for a successful meeting.
On the first day we met in the International Club “Orbis Humboldtianus” of Humboldt University for the first get-together. After every participant got the conference schedule, some information leaflets about the sponsors and writing utensils, we had the first opportunity to get to know the other fellows while having some drinks and snacks. Some of the fellows already knew each other from former conferences or even the first meeting of the DGK’s Young Crystallographers, the new participants (like me) had the chance to meet the others for the first time.
The second day started with some official words of welcome and the first plenary talk from Holger Dobbek (Humboldt University Berlin) who talked about “Small molecule activation by metalloenzymes – insights from X-ray crystallography”. At the end of each plenary talk the audience had the chance to ask questions and make comments. In the following, each participant presented his/her project in a lightning talk of just five minutes. This was a great opportunity not only for the participant to attract the attention of the audience to come to his/her poster afterwards, but also for the audience to obtain a multi-disciplinary knowledge about the different aspects of crystallography. After the lightning talks, there was plenty of time to discuss the different topics during the poster session.
Francesca Fabbiani (University of Göttingen) presented the second plenary talk about “High-pressure crystallography on molecular compounds: theory, practice and a personal journey”. Apart from the talk about her scientific research, she also talked about her academic career with all its benefits and difficulties. After the first poster session, we listened to three industry talks. The three industry representatives Christina Drahten from Bruker AXS, Thomas Hartmann from STOE and Sascha Grimm from Dectris shared with us their experiences and pros and cons of working in the industry compared to working at the university. This gave us the chance to get a short insight into the work in the industrial area. After this “academic part” the entertainment part of the meeting begun. Together with all participants, we went to the “Berlin Underworlds” where a guide showed us impressive underground fallout shelters. The second day came to an end at “Clärchens Ballhaus”, a combination of dancing cafe and restaurant with typical Berlin food. Some of the fellows took the opportunity and enjoyed standard dance.
The third day of the meeting started with the third plenary talk of Udo Heinemann (Max Dellbrück Center for Molecular Medicine) who talked about “Structural Basis of Transcriptional and Translational Gene Expression”. After a short second poster session, three lightening talks and corresponding posters were acknowledged with a gift sponsored by STOE. The awards were given to:
- Wei Meng: “Toward a High Temperature V6O13Based Lithium-Ion Battery”
- Dennis Wiedemann: “Making the Most of Neutron-Diffraction Data: Lithium Diffusion in Ramsdellite-Like Li2Ti3O7”
- Greta Assmann: “Improvement of model quality by rejection of non-isomorphous frames using CC1/2”
Afterwards, the group visited the Natural History Museum where a guide showed us around with a special focus on the T.Rex Tristan. The official part of the second meeting of the DGK’s Young Crystallographers was finished by the last plenary talk of Christian Spahn (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics) who held a talk about “Large scale conformational changes of the ribosome and the mechanism of protein biosynthesis”.
At the end of that day, we had a very sociable and enjoyable farewell dinner at the “White Trash” restaurant. This dinner was a perfect ending of a very successful and well organised 2nd meeting of the Young Crystallographers.
On behalf of the all the participants, I would like to thank Lilith Domnik (Berlin), Yulia Ilina (Berlin), Dr. Oliver Pecher (Cambridge, UK), and Prof. Ulli Engert (Aachen) for a great organisation, which made this meeting a great success. I am very pleased that I have participated in this meeting. It was not only the perfect opportunity for me to gain new insights into various topics of crystallography but also to meet new interesting students and postdocs from universities all over the world as well as getting in contact with people from industry. This meeting solidified my decision to reach out for a PhD position after my master’s degree at the beginning of next year.
We gratefully acknowledge our industry sponsors (STOE, PANalytical, DECTRIS, Excillum, Bruker AXS, and NETZSCH) as well as the DGK and FCI for financial support with travel and accommodation costs. We thank Prof. Christian Lehmann (Mülheim) for his immense help with the financial organisation.
Finally, we are already looking forward to “The DGK’s Young Crystallographers Lab Meeting @ STOE Part II” that will be organised by Melanie Nentwich (Freiberg), Martin Fark (STOE, Darmstadt), and Thomas Hartmann (STOE, Darmstadt) and take place in September 2017. Furthermore, the Young Crystallographers Khai-Nghi Truong, Stefanie Langenstück, and Prof. Ulli Englert (all Aachen) already announced that they are happy to host the “3rd Meeting of the DGK’s Young Crystallographers” in autumn 2018 at RWTH Aachen University.