IUCr 1999 Triennial Report - Commission on Structural Chemistry

For many years there had been a feeling among the members of this Commission that the title Commission on Small Molecules was no longer descriptive of the broad areas of research being pursued by many non-macromolecular crystallographers. In recognition of the continuing evolution of this field the Commission requested that its name be changed to the Commission on Structural Chemistry. The request was approved at the Seattle General Assembly. A single-crystal electron diffractionist was also added to the membership of the Commission.

The Commission members met twice during the Seattle Congress, once under outgoing Chair F.H. Herbstein and once under the incoming Chair C. Krüger. During the second meeting the Commission members took advantage of the presence of J.A.K. Howard to extend early programme suggestions for the Glasgow Congress. The Commission also responded favourably to a request by Y. Ohashi for support of a meeting in Japan on 'Analysis and Design of Solid State Organic Reactions', 30 September — 2 October 1996.

In 1997 the Commission supported three meetings: Indaba II — Intermolecular Interactions, held in Kruger National Park, South Africa, in August and organised by J.C.A. Boeyens; the 10th International Symposium on Organic Crystal Chemistry, also held in August in Poznan-Rydzyna, Poland; and the workshop Predictability of Crystal Structures of Inorganic Solids held in October and organised by the German Crystallographic Society and the German Chemical Society.

The annual meetings of the regional crystallographic associations continue to include sessions and workshops on topics of interest to the community represented by the Commission. In addition, we feel that it is important to reach out beyond the crystallographic meetings to introduce a broad-based chemical audience to the benefits of X-ray crystallography. Towards this goal a session entitled 'Advanced Methods of Structure Determination by Diffraction and Related Methods' was organised by A. Clearfield for the American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas, Texas, USA, in the spring of 1998. In 1998 the Commission also gave its support to a workshop on 'Modern Techniques in Structural Chemistry of Microcrystalline and Amorphous Compounds', which was scheduled for October in Germany. Unfortunately, this workshop was cancelled for lack of participation. Commission member V. Belsky was involved in the organisation of the first Russian National Conference on Crystal Chemistry. During 1998 the Commission also made further contributions to the organisation of the programme for the Glasgow Congress.

Throughout the triennium the Commission endorsed a number of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes which are held every year in May in Erice, Italy. Reports on meetings of interest to structural chemists can be found at http://www.geomin.unibo.it/orgv/erice/erice.htm.

Even before the name change, the Commission had begun to broaden its scope and the process has continued during the triennium. It now represents not only the single-crystal X-ray and electron diffraction communities but also other topics of interest, such as crystal engineering, modelling techniques, and all theoretical aspects of structural chemistry. More details about Commission activities may be found on its new web home page as well as in the annual reports to the IUCr. Most of the symposia and workshops supported by the Commission have been reviewed in the IUCr Newsletter, the ACA Newsletter, or similar publications. The Commission has not yet interacted with crystallographers in South America and some parts of Asia but hopes to be able to do so in the future.

It is noted that the concerns of the Commission as pointed out in the last report to the IUCr have become even more severe during the last triennium: the disappearance of crystallographic education from standard university coursework, the tendency towards the use of 'black box' applications without any fundamental understanding of the science of crystallography, and the increasing number of errors appearing in the crystallographic literature. In addition to supporting symposia and workshops it must be one of the tasks of the Commission to develop recommendations for the appropriate approval of crystallographic research results in publications of related fields. The Commission also intends to work with the Commission on Biological Macromolecules and the Committee on Crystallographic Databases to develop guidelines for deposition of structure factors for all structures.

J.L. Flippen-Anderson, Secretary

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Updated 6th June 1999