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International Union of Crystallography Congress (Florence, Italy, 2005)

Final Activity Report Summary - XX-IUCR FLORENCE (International Union of Crystallography Congress [Florence, Italy, 2005])

The XX Congress of the International Union of Crystallography, (Florence, Aug. 23-31, 2005), was a very successful event. In fact, it received one of the largest consensuses for an outstanding scientific program and for being well organised. As many as 2800 scientists from across 62 countries (plus 200 accompanying members) were officially registered, which is a record for the IUCr. About one fourth of the attendees were students.

The opening and closing ceremonies were widely attended. In the former, the chairs (Drs. C. Mealli and P. Paoli) welcomed the participants and illustrated features and goals of the event. The representatives of the City and the University of Florence, the IUCr President and the representatives of some grant suppliers (Dr. G. Bingen for MCA-LCF and Dr. J. Makubalo for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW) all underlined the importance of the event and their interest in it. The closing ceremony, besides showing a general appreciation for the event, was an occasion to bid farewell to the next XXI IUCr congress of Osaka (2008).

It is worth remembering that, by studying the structural aspects of matter at the atomic level, crystallography can justify properties and predict behaviours. Thus, the congress had a real multidisciplinary character by covering multiple areas of chemistry, physics, biology, material science, mineralogy, pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, etc. The program consisted of 37 keynote lectures (KN), three of them presented by the Nobel Laureates R. Hoffmann, H. Kroto and A. Zewail. Additionally, there were about 500 lectures distributed in 98 different microsymposia (MS). About 1700 poster presentations covered at least 300 different scientific topics. There were ad-hoc meetings on Crystallography and Forensic Science, Art and Cultural Heritage. In particular, the latter two MS, together with an Exhibition of the scientific works in an artistic format assumed a special meaning for Florence, a city that is deeply permeated with art.

As many as 450 bursaries were distributed, of which 271 supported by the MCA-LCF grant. Other sponsors have been the OPCW, the IUCr, the British and Italian Crystallographic Associations, the Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, the Italian Chemical Society, the CNR, the University of Florence and the local ARDSU, which arranged for economic yet comfortable accommodations. Another non secondary aspect that has greatly facilitated the participation of the young researchers is that all the chairs and the invited speakers have deferred any kind of financial support. This extra income has been extremely useful in assisting younger or under privileged participants and for better spending on much appreciated services for everybody.

The MCA grant was used to cover the expenses of 271 researchers (Early Stage and Experienced ones). Among the latter, 190 individuals were from European countries (ca. 70%), while the remaining 81 were from other parts of the world (ca. 30%). The grantees were chosen based on their curricula and the excellence of their scientific contribution to the Congress. Also the gender issue was properly accounted for, since the grantees were almost equally distributed between males and females. The distribution of the MCA funds was facilitated, since a call for bursaries was already contained in the congress first circular (September 2004), well before the MCA-LCF grant was provided. In total, there were about 450 applications and a scientific committee was appointed for the evaluation based on merit. Eventually, all the applicants were supported since the MCA funds became available.