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Third school on the applications of neutron scattering in structural biology

Flora Meilleur

Flora Meilleur, Course Organizer

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) hosted the third school on the applications of Neutron Scattering in Structural Biology (BCH590E) during June 4-8, 2012. This one-week intensive course is co-organized annually by the Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry at North Carolina State University and the Neutron Sciences Directorate at ORNL. It aims at training future structural biologists on neutron scattering techniques. While the past editions had been opened to graduate students only, this year’s attendees also included post-doctoral research associates and faculty professors.

The course included a symposium, lectures and tutorials. The symposium encompassed the range of neutron scattering techniques relevant to structural biology and illustrates how neutron scattering uniquely complements structural data obtained by other techniques. External speakers included Professor Donald Blumenthal from the University of Utah and Professor Stephen White from the University of California. Prof. Blumenthal presented his small angle neutron scattering investigation of Protein Kinase A. Professor White presented his work on fluid lipid bilayers. Susan (Zoe) Fisher from Los Alamos National Laboratory presented her neutron crystallographic studies of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase. Talks by John Katsaras, Chris Stanley and Dean Myles completed the symposium program.

Introduction to instruments key to structural biology investigation (BIO-SANS and  IMAGINE at HFIR and TOPAZ, MaNDi , EQ-SANS, Liquids Reflectometer, BASIS, Neutron Spin Echo at SNS) during tours of the Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor is included in the program. An exciting tour of the HFIR reactor by Mr. Edwin Blackburn educated the participants on the origin and meaning of “Scram”, the rapid emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor developed and optimized in the 40’s by Fermi!

Neutrons Biology Workshop

One-on-one interactions are ensured by a low student-to-instructor ratio

An important objective of the school is to give the participating students ample opportunities to discuss how neutron scattering might be integrated in their ongoing research and to initiate long-term working relationship with expert HFIR and SNS neutron scattering scientists. A low student – mentor ratio helps ensure that instructors are available for extensive discussion outside the teaching hours.

At the end of the week, a certificate ceremony event was organized at the historic Graphite reactor where the participants were presented with successful completion certificates.

The course sponsors included ORNL (Neutron Scattering Directorate), Oak Ridge Associated University (University Partnerships), the Tennessee Department of Energy (DOE) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the Joint Institute for Neutron Scattering (JINS). Thanks to the sponsors’ generous support, course attendance is at no cost to participants from institutions within the United States.

The next course will take place in May 2013. More details will be posted here.

Neutrons in Biology Workshop

2012 neutron school participants and symposium speakers