The Commission on Mathematical and Theoretical Crystallography of the International Union of Crystallography has organized a Summer School on Mathematical Crystallography in Nancy, France, from 3 to 7 June 2019. I expected this school to be relevant to my recent research activities. The school exceeded all my expectations in terms of the quality of lectures, layout and venue. I was very impressed by the university, the accommodations and other facilities.
I am new in this field but I have some background in X-ray diffraction applied to intermetallic compounds. I was, however, not very happy about my knowledge related to the basics of crystallography. These crystallographic concepts were explained clearly and in several ways to us by prof. Massimo Nespolo. I am very grateful that I have been given the opportunity to learn from this passionate, active and very experienced crystallographer. The team of prof. Massimo Nespolo was great as well because they were all very reactive and eager to answer questions at any time and to spend time with the participants - even during lunch time.
Since crystallography is so widely used in science, I was worried having to listen to topics that were not applicable to my research area. My other main concern was about the intensity of the courses - of which I was warned. However with three breaks throughout the day and a carefully planned schedule alternating between lectures and practical sessions this was not really a problem. The organizers clearly have done their best to arrange everything, and this made a huge difference.
The software analysis sessions were invaluable, especially since we could use the software to tackle our own problems. All the practical exercises were very useful and taught us how to handle a variety of different challenges that we are likely to face. I particularly enjoyed to interact with the teachers and other participants with different backgrounds. We were lucky to have a day off to explore the beautiful city of Nancy.
I have gained more knowledge about the mathematical foundations of crystallography and this could be of help for all practical problems such as how to measure and solve a crystal structure. This is vital for my current position as well as for my future career. The course also gave me a greater appreciation of crystallography than I had previously, and has inspired me to consider new career paths within this area. I highly recommend this course to anyone willing to gain a better and proper understanding of crystallography.
I would like to thank the Association Française de Cristallographie and Prof. Massimo Nespolo for having given me the opportunity to attend this Summer School on Mathematical Crystallography which permitted me to cover a part of my expenses.