• Crystallography in East and West Africa

    I have been very fortunate this autumn to visit two markedly different African countries, Kenya and Senegal, on behalf of the CCDC. My first visit was to Nairobi, where Dr Lewis Whitehead of Novartis and I presented a week-long Kongamano: a series of lectures and workshops on crystallographic databases, featuring the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD), and in-silico visualization and modelling applications in drug discovery.

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  • Crystallography in Kinshasa - CCDC visit to the DRC

    I recently had the chance to go to the University of Kinshasa for a week to present the CSD and its applications in both teaching and research. Not only was it my first time doing a presentation and workshops about the CSD, but it was also my first time in Africa and it was to be a memorable experience on all accounts.
    Leaving London on a very wet and drab Friday morning, I arrived in Kinshasa after nearly a day of travelling to be greeted by a dense and humid heat. I was to learn that this was nothing compared to the weather conditions during the rainy season, but the contrast with the inclement England weather was very welcome. Having been met by Professor Zéphirin Yav at the airport, I arrived at the UNIKIN guesthouse on the university campus after three hours of never ending traffic jams. I stayed at the guesthouse for the duration of my stay, a small structure for hosting visitors to the university but made into a very welcoming space by the staff. In particular I will remember fondly Maman Pauline who not only cooked excellent Congolese food (spicy captain fish accompanied by plantains was a particularly delicious dish) but also dispensed sound relationship advice! Other highlights of the guesthouse include sleeping under a mosquito net, although it felt a little irrelevant as I only encountered two mosquitoes throughout my stay, being woken up every morning by the exotic songs of the local birds, and occasionally hearing the thud of a mango falling on the sand from the large mango tree in the garden.
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