Mia Lahey-Rudolph at ECM32 2019, Vienna, Austria . Photograph:Private.
A Graduate Education Program at DESY in Cooperation with Universität Hamburg
Mia Lahey-Rudolph, PhD student at Campus Bahrenfeld, received a PIER travel grant and went to the "European Crystallography Meeting” which took place in Vienna. Here is her report
I am a PIER PhD fellow working both at CFEL (DESY) and at the Institute of Biochemistry (Universität zu Lübeck). Thanks to the PIER travel grant, I could benefit from the opportunity of discussing my scientific output with some of the most renowned and accomplished researchers in the field of macromolecular protein crystallography, at the ECM32 in Vienna. This was a chance to enjoy the latest science. To forge new and re-new existing friendships. Moreover, to exchange exciting ideas, setting the ground for future research cooperation. The European Crystallography Meeting (short: ECM) is the largest forum for crystallography in Europe, with > 1000 participants. Next to macromolecular structural biology, fields span also material science, small molecule crystallography or X-ray radiation facility development, to name just a few. Keynote talks from scientific role models such as Elspeth Garman or Naomie Chayen complemented more than 30 micro symposia, and lively discussions with industrial partners from e.g. DECTRIS Ltd or XtalConcepts GmbH.
My experience of the ECM32 kicked-off with my personal highlight, a satellite meeting on fixed-target serial protein crystallography. Fixed-target holders are in active development for serial crystallography data collection both at synchrotrons and FELs for good reason, because research groups independently found that they enable low sample-consumption, fast data collection with remarkably low background noise and opportunities for time-resolved measurements. We discussed recent developments like pre-selecting and marking crystals before the diffraction experiment, immediate processing feedback during the experiment and setups resulting in almost “naked” crystals-to-shoot – inspiring also for my own work on data collection strategies of intracellular protein crystals. We continued our discussions until late night, switching places in between from the TU Wien to a nice Viannese pub. If you make it to Vienna, the place is called 1516, serves tasty local beer with an international flair. Furthermore, I learned about a software suite for processing serial data, DIALS, with promising ideas and sufficient people that actively code behind, that I will be sure to test in the future.
The organizers presented this exciting mixture within the unique cultural atmosphere at Vienna. The University of Vienna is an impressing and huge, beautifully decorated building from the 19th century with a large inner green courtyard. In breaks I would frequently fetch a coffee with a colleague and go for a 10-min ‘walk and talk’ around the arcade. On another occasion, we could learn Viannese Waltz by a chemist professional dance instructor – lots of fun.
Dear PIER travel grant jury, I am very grateful for this opportunity.
If you are a PIER fellow with a justified ambition to go somewhere with your science, a sincere recommendation: Do try, be open and reach out. Conferences like these are the place where you might find your next cooperation partner, new friends and acknowledgement for your every-day scientific efforts. Communicating our science is so important, we all know that, but it is really worth the effort in addition to writing your manuscripts also to meet with the human faces behind.
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