ACA launches its first history website

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3 February 2014

ACA celebrates the culmination of a yearlong project by ACA historian Virginia Pett with the launch of its new ACA History website

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In recent years, the ACA RefleXions magazine published shortened memoirs by individual crystallographers. The new website has the complete memoirs with references, selected ACA RefleXions articles, and in some cases, additional information from the authors such as their curriculum vitae and list of publications. In addition, there are links to videos of award presentations at ACA annual meetings that are hosted on YouTube. The site remains a work in progress, as ACA will be adding material as it becomes available. 

ACA is very excited about this accomplishment, because online access will make the society’s historical material more accessible to crystallographers, historians, and the general public. One of ACA’s goals is for the website to appropriately reflect the substantial contributions of women and minorities to structural science. On the site, visitors will learn about a considerable number of outstanding women crystallographers, read their stories, and view their presentations. 

D CasparWhen visiting the site, take a look at the presentation by Donald Caspar, “Origins of Structural Biology and Trials and Errors in its History: An Idiosyncratic View.“ Here’s one interesting excerpt: “Herman Branson, a young physics professor from Howard University, was on his way to Cal Tech for a sabbatical year there. Pauling assigned him the task of building hydrogen-bonded helical peptide models using the Pauling-Corey experimental restraints of planar peptide groups and defined bond distances and bond angles. Branson soon produced two helical models . . .” Although Branson was coauthor on the resulting publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, his name has largely been forgotten. Caspar also emphasizes the crucial contributions of Rosalind Franklin to the model for the DNA double helix. Listen on and enjoy!