ESRF Director of Research to preside the biggest crystallography organisation


One of the directors of research of the ESRF, Sine Larsen, is the new president of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr). This is a three-year position that is rarely occupied by a woman. The last female president of IUCr was Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin, elected in Japan 36 years ago.

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Despite the infrequent female presidents of the IUCr, Sine Larsen asserts that “there are many women working in crystallography, so the gender representation is good among the scientists”. She explains the lack of women in the presidency because “maybe there are less women involved in the so-called ‘science politics’ and then there is the question of how many opportunities women have and, of course, priorities, such as family”.

When her new role was announced at the IUCr conference in Osaka, where the Union celebrated its 60th anniversary, with 2600 participants, she claims she was happier than she had expected. “Women came to me to tell me that this meant a lot for women scientists”, she says.

The new challenges she has set for her presidency involve the development of crystallography worldwide, in particular the countries which are today underrepresented in the Union. Another important mission she has is to keep the community together.

Professor Sine Larsen is a structural chemist with a background in X-ray crystallography and physical chemistry. She is currently the first female director of research at the ESRF, job she has been doing since 2003. She is also a Professor in chemistry at the University of Copenhagen.

The IUCr promotes multinational collaboration in crystallography and is a publisher of eight scientific journals. It is also a member of one of the International Scientific Unions.


Top image: Sine Larsen. Credits: C. Jarnias.