ECM31 – Oviedo

The ECA executive committee has awarded a travel grant to Tatiana Akhmetshina (Samary University, Samaria, Russia) and  Andras Benedek (Department of Applied Biotechnology, Budapest University, Hungary) to attend the ECM31 meeting in Oviedo, Spain, from 22 to 27 august 2018. Their travel reports follow on this page:

Tatiana Akhmetshina

I would like to thank the organizing committee for the great opportunity to share my recent results by presenting a talk at microsymposium of the ECM31 conference. Attending the ECM31 and the symposium MS14 “Combined approaches for structure characterization of modulated and complex structures” is one of my highly active participation for this, as I presented my research (in a presentation entitled “Nanocluster model and its application for crystal structure prediction of complex structures”), which is based on the development of new methodologies for structural description.

Intermetallic compounds have important industrial and technical applications, however, their synthesis and structural characterization can be rather complicated. One of the important thing to know about intermetallics is what they consist of and how building units connection is related to their structure and properties. Based on this knowledge the structure prediction process can be organized in much more effective way. An automatic procedure of representation of crystal structures as assembling of primary nanoclusters was developed and implemented into the ToposPro program package. This approach is especially efficient to elucidate complex intermetallic structures. For generating models of new crystal structures the collection of Topological Types of Nanoclusters (TTN) was created. Worth noting that in this work theoretical and experimental studies were successfully combined. We have demonstrated that nanocluster model coupled with disordering modelling can be useful for new structures discovery, and, in collaboration with our colleagues from Universities of Genova and Milan, we have synthesized three new intermetallics in well-known systems.

I would like thank you for considering the application for the Travel Grant which is one of the reasons that enable me to attend this prestigious crystallographic meeting that held from 22 to 27 August 2018 in Oviedo, Spain.

Andras Benedek

I have arrived at ECM31 with my first resolved protein structure which I have deposited in PDB just five days before the conference. I was impressed to meet here senior crystallographers who are my role models for my future research career. I am happy to know young PhD students who are working with similar methods just as I do and they are facing with similar difficulties throughout crystallization and structure refinement. I made new contacts and friendships and I feel really happy about that. It was also useful to meet the representatives of crystallography-related companies.

I was pleased to hear about data collection techniques I have not used before, for instance about electron crystallography and time-resolved serial femtosecond crystallography. I find free electron lasers really interesting and I hope to learn more about them and to use them for data collection in my future. It was also pretty useful to hear a lecture about the advantages and disadvantages of different biophysical methods for analyzing protein quality. I agreed with the chairman that if I had to choose just one method for protein quality assessment that would be gel filtration because of its simplicity and reliability, though I would not miss a chance to assess my sample’s homogeneity using dynamic light scattering before setting up my crystallization tray.

It was really interesting to talk to Mia Rudolph who is growing and investigating protein crystals in living insect cells, where the gene of interest is introduced into the cells by baculoviruses.
Besides biochemistry I was always interested in renewable energy sources and green energy, therefore I grabbed the opportunity to listen to professor Yaroslav Filinchuk’s keynote lecture about hydrogen storage in the form of complex and chemical hydrides. I am impressed by the prospective option of using all-solid-state batteries.

I particularly like the atmosphere of European Crystallographic Meeting and I also plan to visit this conference in the upcoming years.