Message from the President

I feel deeply honoured to have been elected at the Loughborough BCA AGM to be the new President of the BCA: the first President of the Association in 1982 was Professor (later Lord) David C. Phillips, who took me on at LMB Oxford as a card carrying experimental nuclear physicist in 1987, with a view to transmuting me into a macromolecular crystallographer! However, I also find it a daunting prospect to succeed Paul Raithby. Beneath Paul’s unfailingly jovial demeanour there is efficiency and steely determination to do the best for the BCA and the profession of crystallography. Although Paul has made his name as a very creative small molecule crystallographer, he has a sympathetic understanding of other areas of crystallography. Since I started as a physicist and am now in a Biochemistry Department, I hope I can follow his example in this respect. 

The Spring meeting in Loughborough attracted over 350 delegates, and at least 80 of them were `Young Crystallographers’. From what I heard and from the part of it in which I was able to partake, it was a diverse and stimulating meeting, with the unifying theme across our subject of `Dynamic Crystallography’. We were glad to have the XRF community sharing the meeting. Many thanks are due to Simon Parsons, Chair of the Programme Committee, for masterminding and coordinating the meeting (and the Abstract book We are most grateful to our 23 exhibitors for their support in these `credit crunch’ times, and without whom we could quite simply not be able to run the Meeting in its present form.   

At the AGM, all three Ordinary Council members (Bill Clegg, Richard Cooper and myself) came to the end of their three year term, and after many years of service, our Web master, Jeremy Cockcroft, stepped down. Council is grateful for their contribution to the Association over the last 3 years, but happily expertise and experience will be retained since Richard Cooper is now Web master and Bill Clegg has kindly agreed to be a co-opted member of Council for a year. We welcome their replacements:  Alex Griffin, Andreas Goeta, and David Beveridge.  

My vision for the Association over the next three years involves development of several aspects of our organisation and educational outreach, some of which I know are already ongoing: further development of the new more flexible Website to provide an up-to-date resource for all members, exploring the possibility of linking BCA members in different fields of crystallograhy who are at the same institutions to see if they can offer each other for instance advice or access to facilities, and investigating the reduction of the BCA’s paper consumption by offering members (if they so wish)  the possibility of receiving their Crystallograhy News electronically in pdf format.  I am deeply interested in education in the broadest possible sense, a passion spawned when I was for a year an 18 year old volunteer teacher in a Secondary School in Swaziland, Southern Africa, where I was expected to teach every subject on the curriculum except Zulu (but including Latin and Agriculture). I am lucky to teach on many international summer schools and courses; as a direct result of which there are currently two visiting Mexican graduate students in my group for 6 months, and I revel in the international nature of the field of crystallography.