Welcome to the AVL


Announcement - 2023 Holiday Contest!  

All ACA Members are invited to submit videos to be eligible for a $500 (USD) prize. Videos will be evaluated by the Young Scientists Interest Group and the Education Committee will award the winner.  The first 10 submissions before the December 31, 2023 deadline will be automatically eligible for a $100 (USD) prize. 

Submit A Video

Purpose & Plan

A central goal of the ACA is to “advance, promote and preserve crystallography, structural science, and allied disciplines for the benefit of humankind” (https://acas.memberclicks.net/statements-policies). Over the years the ACA has strived to meet this goal with publications, conferences, and public outreach. In 2018 the ACA launched a new website with the goal of continuing to share Structural Science.  

The ACA Video Library (AVL) is currently in its beginning stages and in the process of collecting content.  We are excited to share the beginning steps of this initiative which has only been made possible by the support of AIP and the Venture Grant Program.  

The COVID-19 pandemic recently brought the role of Structural Science to a forefront when Jason McLellan’s team at UT, and Barney Graham’s team at the NIH, created the first 3D atomic scale map of the part of the virus that attaches to and infects human cells, a key breakthrough in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. (https://alcalde.texasexes.org/2021/03/how-ut-research-led-to-the-development-of-the-covid-19-vaccine-in-record-breaking-time/). 

The structural science world continues to work on the development of interventions and vaccines for COVID-19, which has brought this field new attention. It may well be that a new generation of scientists will be inspired by these contributions to pursue Structural Science. Effective training in the fundamentals will be essential to their success.

Perhaps misguided by a false belief that crystallographic analysis has become an automated process, structural analysis education is vanishing from the North American academic curriculum. One would be hard-pressed to find a university that offers more than two semesters of crystallography. It is true that automated single-crystal diffractometers now produce small-molecule structures quickly and with minimal training for their operators; likewise the percentage of incorrect structures coming from minimally trained staff from this technique is dropping as the software improves. However, analysis is not automatic for protein crystallography, powder diffraction crystallography, pair distribution function analysis, or cryo-Electron Microscopy. The quality of structures even from automated instruments is questionable without supervision by a well-trained crystallographer.

The lack of educational resources for students, in the U.S.A. and internationally, presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the American Crystallographic Association. The ACA Summer School offers a week of training in small molecule structure determination for neophytes, along with some exposure to powder techniques. There are other short-duration course and workshops, where each allows researchers to get started with crystal structure analysis, but these courses do not give them the experience to solve hard problems or notice sophisticated mistakes. From where will the next generation of experts come? In the words of Cornell professor Nozomi Ando “as the techniques become more advanced, the gap between what is normally taught in classes (theory) and what is needed in practice becomes larger.”

The ACA noted this change, and took advantage of the interest and available resources by launching a prototype repository. The ACA Education Committee has taken the helm of this project and has already collected a limited number of open source videos, as well as solicited additional contributions from noted scientists in the field. Members of the ACA, and specifically the ACA Education Committee, are experts in the field with the ability to identify and curate content relevant to all levels of interest in crystallography. Moreover, the members of the committee are from either macromolecular and small molecule backgrounds, ensuring a breadth of expertise and balance in the resources developed.

The necessity to access information remotely was accelerated during the pandemic. We have also learned that remote learning is of great interest and can present some advantages to synchronous, in-person. The goal of this proposal is for the ACA to host and, where necessary, solicit and prepare, a library of on-line lectures and course material on the basics of the major techniques of Structural Science. While there is some public-domain material that could be archived initially, it is of varying quality and continuity.  The ACA will maintain a library of such lectures to cover as many areas of Structural Science as possible.

Access to the entire library is one of the many benefits of ACA membership, along with peer mentoring opportunities, conferences, and more. Become a Member today 


Contest & Submissions

The previously announced ACA Video Library of crystallographic and structural science educational videos is here! These videos are all created by skilled ACA members and peer-reviewed for accuracy before publication.

Videos can be as simple as a few minutes of talking over a slide presentation, or as complex as a molecular animation. The ACA will provide a certificate in appreciation and acknowledge creators online and at the annual meeting.

We are now accepting submissions to the AVL.  Some of the topics we are interested in (but not limited to) include: 

  • Historical perspective
  • Crystallization/ what can we glean?
  • How to grow a good crystal
  • Visual inspection
  • Size, shape, crystallinity
  • General confirmation of synthetic process
  • Three-Dimensional picture of your molecule in the solid state
  • Connectivity
  • Stereochemistry
  • Packing considerations
  • Bonds, angles, torsions
  • Intermolecular interactions
  • Hydrogen bonding
  • Pi-stacking
  • Void spaces
  • Phase Problem
  • Data Collection, Solution, Refinement
  • Synchrotrons
  • X-ray Free Electron Lasers
  • Check out the full AVL Wish List
After April 1st we will be reviewing submissions on a quarterly basis with videos submitted by students, postdocs, and junior faculty (within 10 years of PhD) being eligible for a $500 (USD) prize. Videos will be evaluated by the Young Scientists Interest Group and the Education Committee will award the winner.  

Submit a Video 

Inspiration & Catalog

The complete catalog has been established and over the next twelve months the Education Committee hopes to fill this page with educationally relevant videos relating to structural science. Publicly-available videos offer a preview of what the full library offers:

An Introduction to Crystallography
By Prof. Allen Oliver
A Hands on Guide to Instrumentation
By Jeffery Bertkle, PhD.

This activity is funded in part by a grant from the American Institute of Physics federation Venture Fund.