Travel Grant Program

The ACA is committed to helping as many students and young scientists as possible attend ACA annual meetings. Each year we receive generous donations from individual members and businesses who share our commitment.

It is with great honor that we accept the support of the International Union of Crystallography to ACA2022.  This, in addition to a contribution from the ACA, allowed us to grant numerous travel grant requests from young and early career scientists to attend ACA2022.  

IUCr's Gender Balance Policy

The ACA receives meeting support from the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) and supports the IUCr's Gender Balance Policy.


2022 ACA Travel Grant Winners

Michael Aristov | Graduate Student, Chemistry, UW Madison

The ACA Conference: A Meeting of Scientific Rigor and Friendly Faces. Before the end date of the application period for the 2022 Portland, OR ACA conference, I was contacted by Nichole R. Valdez. She had stumbled across my work making 3D models and animations to aid with crystallography education, and she had given me an invitation to lead a workshop on Blender at the conference. Originally, I hadn’t planned to present at the ACA conference, let alone attend the event, due to limited funds and other obligations (I was in the middle of writing my PhD thesis). However, after discussing the workshop with her and my PI, we decide to find a way to get me to Portland. My attendance of the event was aided significantly by the ACA travel grant! The ACA conference was wonderful from start to finish. The mentoring program paired me up with a kind and established member, Stacey, who provided me with endless advice and encouragement as I juggled attending events and finalizing my workshop presentation. At the workshop, I also met Louise, whose presentation gave me a new appreciation for the importance of crystallographic figure making. Together, we discussed a new project, in which we would try and lay the groundwork for simplifying the creating of visually accessible figures. From start to finish of the conference, I was surrounding by fascinating science and extremely friendly people, all of whom were approachable and excited to talk science or history or hobbies. To me, this event represents the ideal for a scientific community and/or a conference to strive.


Sarah Barwell | Graduate Student, University of Waterloo, Canada

This is my third time attending the ACA meeting in person since the meeting was held in Toronto back in 2018. I’ve since obtained my M.Sc. and worked my way through half of my Ph.D.. I am honoured to be awarded a travel grant for a second time, especially as an international member of the American Crystallographic Association. The grant allows me, as a Canadian member, to attend the ACA meeting knowing that my flight costs are taken care of. Attending the ACA meeting over the years has always been a highlight of my graduate degree, and has allowed me the opportunity to meet with sever al researchers and experts that gave me insight into my own studies in protein crystallography. I was able to present multiple posters and even an oral presentation or two, that greatly increased my confidence in delivering the key findings of my work. The first time I received this grant in 2019 also let me network with others, giving me the chance to collaborate with a state-of-the-art synchrotron in the UK, greatly increasing the impact of my research and allowing me to send my samples overseas for some long-wavelength crystallography inaccessible to me otherwise. I appreciate that there are always a huge variety of sessions to attend, with the opportunity to switch between sessions during intermissions and short coffee breaks. Some of my favourite sessions have been Hot Structures, Would You Publish This?, and Structural Science of Infectious Disease. I also enjoy chatting with the vendors between sessions, and attending the YSIG meeting of course!


Audrey Burnim | Graduate Student, Cornell University, United States


Roger Castells Graells | Postdoc, University of California Los Angeles, United States


Caleb Chang | Graduate Student, Rice University, United States


Ranuri Dissanayaka Mudiyanselage | Graduate Student, Rutgers University, United States

As a ACA2022 Student Travel Grant Awardee, I was able to attend my first ACA conference in July 2022 at Portland, Oregon. First, I would like to thank the organizing committee and the sponsors for the financial support for students through this program that makes a magnificent impact for first time attendees like me. I am a fourth-year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, New Jersey. ACA2022 was an amazing platform where I got the opportunity to present my research for the first time at an in-person conference as a graduate student. I also attended the workshop ‘Advanced Software Tools for Single Crystal Diffraction’ which was a very useful resource and a hands-on experience for me to learn and improve my skills in crystal structure refinements. Participating in the 3MT competition was exciting and gave me the opportunity to look at my own research in a different perspective. Overall, it was a wonderful time to connect with people in the field and the industrial partners and share knowledge while having fun. Years after the pandemic, the in-person ACA2022 experience invigorated my motivation to work towards becoming a better scientist in the field and I am truly grateful for the opportunity.


Shubham Dubey | Graduate Student, Purdue University, United States

I am Shubham Dubey, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the department of biological sciences at Purdue University. I am honored to receive the ‘ACA Travel Grant Award for the 2022 Annual Meeting’ in Portland, Oregon. I gave a talk in the ‘what did I learn from my first structures?’ session and the title of my talk was ‘Breaking the iron pi[1]racy code of the Tbp system from pathogenic Neisseria’. I would like to thank ACA for giving me the opportunity to present my research in front of pioneers in the field of structural biology. The workshops and talks at the meeting were highly informative. Apart from the learning, 2022 Travel Grant Awardees 42 ACA Newsletter Fall 2022 this meeting helped me improve my professional skills since this was my first in-person exposure to such a big scientific gathering. In addition to these scientific ventures, it was great to connect with the peer scientists in my field and build scientific connections. The last but not the least, I would like to thank all the organizers of the meeting who gave their time to make this event possible under all COVID restrictions.


Justin Galardi | Graduate Student, University of Rochester Medical Center, United States

I am incredibly grateful towards the ACA and associated funding sources for awarding me with the Travel Grant towards this year’s annual meeting. This was not only my first time attending any ACA meeting, but also my first ever oral presentation at a non-undergraduate conference. I was fortunate to speak with the session chairs and fellow speakers before and after my session, which was a wonderful networking experience and opportunity to meet fellow structural biologists. I learned more about Phenix in a hands-on, friendly environment at the workshops, while also being able to see a huge range of different fields throughout the oral and poster sessions. Finally, I enjoyed meeting people at the vendor booths and learned a lot. Thank you for enabling my travel to attend this meeting with such a positive experience.


Marios Georgiadis | Postdoc, Stanford University School of Medicine, United States


Stephanie Gnewuch | Graduate Student, University of Maryland, College Park, United States


Michal Gucwa | Graduate Student, University of Virginia, United States


Michael Healy | Postdoc, Institute for molecular biosciences, Australia


Jake Hill | Graduate Student, University of Bradford, United Kingdom

As my first time at an ACA meeting (and in the USA), I was very excited - but a little nervous and more than a little jet-lagged! Those nerves were soon put to rest. The meeting was welcoming, friendly, and the organisers made sure that first-timers like myself were shown the ropes and not left out in anyway. The meeting covered a huge range of topics but personally it was great to see sessions on crystallography under physiological conditions and time-resolved studies. The focus on structural dynamics was exciting and really highlighted many innovative techniques such as, Kara Zielinski’s talk describing a new rapid mixing device and Iris Young’s talk demonstrating a deconvolution technique to harness the full XFEL bandwidth and resolve both the structure and redox state of metalloproteins. 2022 Travel Grant Awardees 38 ACA Newsletter Fall 2022 I was able to personally contribute to the three-minute thesis competition and a busy and engaging poster session. Both a little nerve-wracking but more than worth it. I had many insightful conversations and met some excellent scientists. The Young Scientists Scientific Interest Group (YSIG) did a fantastic job organising both academic and social events which were a great opportunity to meet other young scientists, who I hope will be future collaborators. It is always great to see the welcoming atmosphere within the crystallography community and to leave full of new ideas and inspiration. I hope to be back next year


Gabrielle Illava | Graduate Student, Cornell University, United States


Monu Joy | Graduate Student, Clarkson University, United States

I am a Ph.D. candidate and lab crystallographer at Wriedt lab, Clark[1]son University, New York, and I have been an ACA member since 2020. Although I presented virtually at the 71st ACA meeting in 2021, this was my first in-person ACA meeting. As a grad student, it was a great opportunity for me to attend the ACA meeting with the travel award, where I presented my research in the section: Materials for our future: Structural insights into energy materials and sustainable materials. Since my research interest lies in structural chemistry, my PhD thesis research is heavy in crystallography and computational chemistry concerning the design of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) based on magnetic composite materials for high-density data storage applications. Overall, the meeting was fantastic and included a vast range of topics. The sessions covering MicroED approaches were my prime point of interest as it is relatively new to me. As a small molecule crystallographer, I would love to learn more about MicroED techniques with my regular small molecule X-ray diffraction activities. Thanks to ACA for this learning opportunity! Moreover, everyone in the meeting was very welcoming and willing to talk with the student community and share their experiences. Also, I got a chance to meet prominent crystallographers I had only known through crystallography forums and publications. Especially since I am graduating and looking for crystallography-related positions, networking with other crystallographers from academia and industry was really beneficial. Apart from ACA, I have been a member of American Chemical Society, and I would like to continue my membership in both. Once again, I incredibly grateful to the ACA for awarding me a travel grant to attend the annual meeting and experience the conference, and I am looking forward to future ACA meetings.


Taylor Keller | Graduate Student, Temple University, United States

I joined the ACA at the start of the pandemic and am super grateful I was able to attend my first in person ACA meeting! At the time of abstract submission, I wasn’t certain I would have secured a post[1]doc position as I was finishing my graduate studies and was unclear how I would fund the trip to Portland. Receiving a travel grant helped smooth this transition and allow me to attend the conference in Port[1]land with an opportunity to present twice. I presented two projects from my graduate work that helped me grow my presentation skills. Additionally, I was able to learn a lot from the community and network with those who have similar interests. Thank you again for awarding me with a Travel Grant.


Joanna Lenkiewicz | Graduate Student, University of Virginia, United States


Kiera Malone | Graduate Student, University of Vermont, United States


Stephen Moore | Graduate Student, University at Buffalo, United States


Peter Mpaata | Graduate Student, Brigham Young University, United States


Si Nie | Postdoc, California Institute of Technology, United States


Sreya Paladugu | Graduate Student, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, United States

I would like to thank the ACA for awarding me a Travel Grant and a Margaret C Etter student lecturer award in the Neutron Session. This was my first time attending an ACA meeting in person, where I had the honor of giving an invited talk titled “Designing next generation emissions abatement catalysts using operando neutron total scattering.” I would like to thank the session organizers, Dr. Jue Liu and Dr. Rebecca McAuliffe for giving me the opportunity to present my research in front of well-respected researchers in neutron and x-ray diffraction. I was able to learn about new developments in my field and was introduced to other areas of interesting research through the talks and poster sessions. As a fifth year PhD student preparing for the next phase in my career, the ACA meeting was a great chance for me to network and receive guidance from successful professionals through the mentorship program. I was also able to explore my interest in scientific outreach by submitting an educational video to Education and Outreach Program about the use of X-ray diffraction to study the structure of nanomaterials. Thank you to everyone who helped organize the meeting!


Hosna Rastegarpouyani | Graduate Student, Florida State University, United States

My deepest thanks to the ACA for choosing me as one of the recipients of the Travel Grant Award for the 2022 meeting. My current research is focused on structural studies of thick myofilaments that are essential to muscle contractions. We perform cryo-EM techniques to isolate filaments, plunge freeze them over carbon coated grids and image them for the data analysis. I chose a particularly challenging research project to determine the atomic structure of the thick filament from vertebrate striated muscle. Despite numerous cryo-EM advances, structures of these filaments in vertebrates are limited to low resolution negatively stained specimens. Preserving the vertebrate thick filaments in the sample preparation step seems to be the main challenge in the way of cryo-EM studies. High-resolution information about the three-dimensional (3D) structure of thick filaments has always been hard to obtain. This is an important issue to solve because several human myopathies are known to be associated with thick filament and its related proteins’ mutations and understanding the effects of these mutations requires a proper understanding of the thick filament structure. The challenging part of my project was plunge freezing my sample. As a result of vitrification, filaments that were in good condition appeared completely disordered and disassembled. There were many things I tried to resolve this issue such as using different detergents in my sample, adding 10% glycerol before applying the sample over the grid, changing the salt concentration, applying samples on a graphene coated grid, etc. However, none of them were successful. My primary purpose for attending the ACA meeting was to attend the “Cryo-EM sample preparation training workshop” in hopes of finding a solution to my sample preparation problem. In both the meeting and the workshop, I gained a great deal of knowledge and experience. I met many people in different stages of their careers and I enjoyed exchanging ideas, asking for help, and see what other scientists are doing. But the most important turning point was the opportunity to discuss my project with an expert in the field. He suggested me to stabilize the filaments using Polyethylene glycol (PEG). PEG protects particles against aggregations or denaturation caused by vitrifications. As soon as I returned to the lab, I tried the PEGylation method on the first sample that I made, and I saw that it can improve the quality of my sample significantly. Now, I am trying to optimize the PEGylction condition, make the best quality cryo-EM grid, collect a data set, and make a high-resolution reconstruction of a cardiac thick filament specimen. It would not have been possible for my project to progress without the ACA meeting.


Sayantan Roy | Graduate Student, Florida State University, United States


Zhichun Shi | Graduate Student, Florida International University, United States


Surendra Silwal | Graduate Student, Miami University, United States

As a poster presenter, I participated in 72nd ACA annual meeting from July 29 to August 3, 2022, in Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront. I flew from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, to Portland, Oregon, to attend this conference. Hence the travel grant ($838) given to me was a great help. During that six-day conference, I presented my poster on Saturday, July 30th. The topic of my poster was ‘Study of L-captopril Binding to VIM-20 by X-ray Crystallography Method’. Though I desperately wanted to participate in one of the workshops, they didn’t have enough space, and I could not participate. I attend[1]ed the welcome & keynote and welcome reception on July 29th. 2022 Travel Grant Awardees 37 ACA Newsletter Fall 2022 There were multiple parallel sessions from July 30th to August 2nd. I participated in those sessions related to X-ray crystallography on proteins, development, advancement in X-ray crystallography, Phenix software, molecular replacement method, etc. I also heard different award sessions. On July 30th, there was a YSIG mixture, and I met Ph.D./postdoc students, proessors from various universities, and industrial representatives. I added some of them to LinkedIn. Some postdoc fellows and professors made remarks and suggested the work I presented in my poster. The overall conference was fruitful, and it was an excellent opportunity for me to learn how other re[1]searchers have been using X-ray crystallography in their research work and what I can do with my work.


Jitendra Singh | Graduate Student, University at Buffalo, United States


Kumari Yoshita Srivastava | Graduate Student, Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, University of Rochester Medical Center, United States


Timothy Stachowski | Postdoc, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, United States

Thanks in part to the ACA Travel Grant Award, I attended the 2022 Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon and presented results from my postdoc at St. Jude in the Macromolecular Structure Under Physiological Conditions session. I have been a member of the ACA since 2019 and in that short time it has become my professional home. After two years of virtual meetings, it was rewarding to be back in person, see many familiar faces, and meet some new ones. The opportunity to present my work is an invaluable opportunity to engage with the structural biology community. The dialogues that followed from my talk sparked new ideas and potential collaborations for future projects that will tackle challenging biological questions. These outcomes are what make the ACA a special community and I’m grateful to the ACA for its help bringing researchers together, especially with funding like the Travel Grant Awards.


Morgan Walker | Graduate Student, UNC at Chapel Hill, United States

I received a travel grant and the Margaret C. Etter Student Lecturer Award to attend the 2022 ACA Annual Meeting in Portland, OR. This was my first chance to both attend an ACA meeting in person and present an oral presentation at a conference, so it was really import[1]ant to me to attend in order to further my career development. At the meeting, I attended a workshop on analyzing single particle cryo-EM data. I am relatively new to cryo-EM so this workshop was really awesome to see the ins and outs of data processing! I also really enjoyed the sessions on AlphaFold and other structure prediction tools, as well as the fragment-based drug discovery session. I also thought the session I presented in, Structural Science of Infectious Disease, had some amazing speakers and I got some really great feedback and questions after my talk. Finally, both the young scientist mixer and the poster sessions were great places to network and I met some really cool scientists there. Overall, I am very grateful for the financial support that the ACA has given me to attend, and I really look forward to returning to this meeting in future years.  


Kara Zielinski | Graduate Student, Cornell University, United States

This past ACA was my first time attending in person, thanks in part to the ACA Student Travel Grant. I attended many exciting sessions, like MicroED, Protein-Nucleic Acid Complexes, Frontiers in Small Angle Scattering, and Macromolecules Under Physiological Conditions. Many of the talks exposed me to new ideas and gave me a long list of papers to read up on. At the conference, I was able to give a talk entitled “Chaotic Advection Mixer for Capturing Transient States of Diverse Biological Macromolecular Systems with TRSAXS” in Session 3.2.3 “Time-resolved Structural Dynamics and Kinetic Processes.” It was exhilarating to be able to speak in front of a live audience, see their reactions to different ideas and findings, and continue discussions outside the allocated Q&A time. Attending in person also allowed me to catch up with and connect more deeply with colleagues and collaborators over lunches or at the poster sessions. Some of these longer conversations have resulted in new project ideas and has influenced the progression of my research. Additionally, with more time to engage, a lot more topics could be covered. This gave me a better sense of what the community thought about new ideas and emerging techniques, which has led me to think more critically of my own opinions. I am very grateful that I got to attend ACA in-person and that I received a Student Travel Grant to assist me. I cannot wait until ACA 2023 and hope to see everyone again in Baltimore!