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Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture
President: Professor Antonino Zichichi


Director: Sir Tom Blundell, FRS FMedSci

55th Course:


Erice 28 May - 5 June 2021

New ONLINE dates: 31st May - 4th June

Scientific Report

The 55th Course of the International School of Crystallography on Molecular Crystal Engineering was in the Spring of 2021.


The organization of a course on Molecular Crystal Engineering begun in 2015 with the aim to continue the series on the topic initiated in Erice in 1995. The course was originally planned to be delivered in the usual venue of the Ettore Majorana Centre in Erice. Due to the on-going global pandemic of COVID-19, and the gathering/travel restrictions associated with it, the course was delivered online instead.

The online version was scheduled taking into account several aspects: different time zone of the participants, avoid long period in front of the screen, convey the spirit of Erice. On light of these points, the official online school was restricted from the 31st of May to the 4th of June with only four hours sections per day but to assure an high quality of the school, lectures were pre-recorded and distributed to the participants three weeks before the official opening day while during the official meeting the discussion was favored. A “Preparation” week was also introduced from the 24th to the 28th of May, during this week the students met daily in small groups to discuss each of the recorded lectures and to collect questions. Questions were then passed to the lecturers and addressed during the live streamed sessions from the 31st of May to the 4th of June. These meeting were facilitated by the “orange scarves”, selected students prone to help in the organization. Each day was dedicated to a specific theme: Theory, Solid Forms, Analysis, Properties, Applications.

The scientific program was delivered by 23 Lecturer chosen for their academic reputation as leaders in their respective field. Additionally, 6 guest outstanding speakers (Prof Angelo Gavezzotti, Prof. Mier Lahav, Prof. Lesley Leiserowitz, Prof. Carol Brook, Prof. Judith Howard and Prof. Bruce Foxman) gave an historic perspective on crystallography to the younger participants. In the “Preparation” week 2 workshops were delivered by the CCDC.

Each day was concluded by a Panel Discussion amongst the speakers open to additional questions from the participants.


In order to ensure fruitful interaction only 61 on the 117 applicants were admitted to the course. Participants were selected according to a set of criteria that guaranteed a diverse representation. Indeed, gender and geographical balance was pursued. Moreover, applicants at their mid / final years of PhD were favored to ensure their active participation to the scientific discussion. 36 participants presented their work during 2 poster sessions. Each presenter introduced their work with a 1 minute pre-recorded video presentation.


At the end of the course a questionnaire was circulated amongst all the participants with 75% response. Although the unusual version of ERICE School , and the lack of social activities, the majority of the participants confirms that the school conveyed some of the spirit of a typical "Erice School". Overall 37% of the responders ranked the course as the best on-line event they participated to and an additional 52% ranked it amongst the best ones. In particular, the students really appreciated the opportunity to meet during the “Preparation” week which helped them for a fruitful participation at the school.

The directors

Matteo Lusi, Ulrich J. Griesser, Lucia Maini