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International School of Crystallography - Erice

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


Director: Sir Tom Blundell, FRS FMedSci

Powder Diffraction erice 2024 logo

59th Course:

Powder Diffraction: Advancing Real Materials in the Information Era

Erice 31 May - 8 June 2024

Directors of the course:

D. Billing

Dave Billing

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

M. Leoni

Matteo Leoni


D. S. Jung

Dubravka Sisak Jung



Powder diffraction is one of the most flexible and widely employed tools for materials characterisation. Since its formal establishment over a century ago is has continuously evolved and contemporary applications include X-ray, neutron and electron diffraction and scattering modalities that find application in many research and industrial endeavours across a range of disciplines.

Technical equipment and component advances coupled with developments in the fields of automation as well as information and data sciences have enabled experimental strategies that allow for measurements to be done in time or spatially resolved ways and which also incorporate control of external experimental parameters such as temperature, pressure, atmosphere or even magnetic or electrical fields. Readily producing a wealth of results amenable to analysis and interpretation via appropriate machine learning strategies and/or modelling of the structure/nanostructure aspects of even complex real materials of interest to industry and academia.

This School aims to provide attendees with sound foundational understanding of the principles on which powder diffraction is based. It further seeks to showcase a selection of cutting-edge realisations of powder diffraction, including some newer hyphenated implementations that closely couple powder diffraction with complementary techniques such as tomography or various spectroscopies for an improved understanding of real material and the structural origins of their properties. Practically it seeks to provide the skills and knowledge needed to perform accurate measurements and using appropriate software and hardware tools, especially Rietveld and structure validation methodologies, to derive meaningful crystallographic results. And the school endeavours to gear attendees for future developments by formally including AI/ML and its use in the context of powder diffraction in the curriculum.

The format of the School will include focussed lectures, expert panel discussions as well interactive hands-on sessions that will provide not only theoretical knowledge but also real practical opportunities to use some of the latest tools available to practitioners. Along with informal sessions intended to stimulate discussions between established experts, specialists, and the newer generations of researchers.

Apply now

application deadline: 30 November


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click on the name to see bio-sketches

CNR, Italy

A. Altomare

Altomare Angela Altomare is Research Director at the Institute of Crystallography of the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy, in Bari. Her research activity, carried out over more than 30 years, is mainly devoted to the development and application of advanced crystallographic methodologies and computational tools for the structural characterization of crystalline compounds, from single crystal and microcrystalline powder diffraction data. Angela has been President of the Italian Crystallographic Association-AIC (2021-2023), she is a member of the Executive Committee of the IUCr, a member of the Commission for the participation of CNR to the IUCr, Section Editor of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Advances and Foundations, a member of the European Powder Diffraction Conference Committee, a member of the European Crystallographic Association. She has earned the 2019 ‘Mario Mammi’ Award of the AIC. She chaired the 15th European Powder Diffraction Conference (EPDIC15), Bari, Italy, 12-15 June 2016. She has chaired and participated in several conferences and schools, as well as she has served as a program committee member for several meetings. She has published more than 150 papers in scholarly journals and 10 chapters of books, including two chapters in the ‘International Tables for Crystallography Volume H: Powder Diffraction’. Angela is a co-author of twelve crystallographic computing programs worldwide used. Her articles have gained a number of citations greater than 28000.


ETH Zürich, Switzerland

P. Abdala

Abdala Paula Abdala obtained her diploma in chemical engineering at the National Technological University, Mendoza, Argentina (2002). She earned her PhD in material science from the University of San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2010), studying structure–performance relationships in materials for solid oxide fuel cells. She then moved to Grenoble, France, where she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. She joined Prof. Christoph Müller's group at the ETH Zurich (D-MAVT), Switzerland in 2014 where she is currently employed as a senior scientist. The goal of her research is to elucidate the principles that can guide the design of new efficient materials for sustainable processes, including heterogeneous catalysts and sorbents for carbon dioxide capture. Aiming at understanding in depth the relationships between the atomic-scale structure and properties of functional materials, she works with operando synchrotron and laboratory-based X-ray techniques to unveil the structure of materials at different length and time scales. Her expertise lies in the use of operando X-ray powder diffraction, total scattering, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy. She has published 80 articles in scholarly journals, supervised or co-supervised 8 PhD students and participated in several scientific projects as a researcher, principal investigator (PI) or co-PI. She is a board member of the Swiss Society for Crystallography.


Columbia University, USA

S. Billinge

Billinge Prof. Billinge has more than 25 years of experience developing and applying techniques to study local structure in materials using x-ray, neutron and electron diffraction including the development of novel data analysis methods including graph theoretic, artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches. He earned his Ph.D in Materials Science and Engineering from University of Pennsylvania in 1992. After 13 years as a faculty member at Michigan State University, in 2008 he took up his current position as Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia University and held a joint position of Physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory between 2008 and 2022.
Prof. Billinge has published more than 350 papers in scholarly journals. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Neutron Scattering Society of America, a former Fulbright and Sloan fellow and has earned a number of awards including the 2022 Distinguished Powder Diffractionist Prize of the European Powder Diffraction Conference, the 2018 Warren Award of the American Crystallographic Association and being honored in 2011 for contributions to the nation as an immigrant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He is Section Editor of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Advances and Foundations. He regularly chairs and participates in reviews of major facilities and federally funded programs.


Swiss Light source at the Paul Scherrer Institute

N. Casati

Casati Dr. N. Casati received his PhD in Structural Chemistry in 2005 from the University of Milan. He formed his expertise in Synchrotron radiation during a postdoc at Diamond Light Source, at the I15 Extreme Conditions beamline.
In 2012 he became scientist at the Materials Science beamline of the Swiss Light Source, where he became a group leader in 2018.
Beside the management and technical development of the beamline stations his scientific interests are in mechanically driven chemistry, spanning from high pressure modifications of materials to mechanochemical synthesis. He also supports the successful industrial program of the beamline, which delivers results to industrial partner for more than 10% of the user’s time.

University of Oxford, UK

B. David




M. Delgado

Delgado Miguel Delgado is a Professor of Chemistry at Universidad de Los Andes (ULA) in Merida, Venezuela, where he has been a member of the Crystallography Laboratory for over 40 years. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Materials Science at MIT in 1988. He has published over 90 papers in the area of characterization of materials using single-crystal and powder diffraction techniques. For over 20 years, he has been one of the editors of the Powder Diffraction Journal. He has had a long-time association with the International Centre for Diffraction Data (ICDD), participating in different committees and in its Board of Directors. Professor Delgado has been involved in the organization of many congresses, schools, and workshops throughout the years in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has also participated as lecturer and instructor in many academic events. Currently, he is the President of the Latin American Crystallographic Association (LACA).


Max Planck, Germany

R. Dinnebier

Dinnebier 1984-1993 Studies of Mineralogy and Crystallography at the university of Heidelberg. Scholarship holder of the “German National Academic Foundation”. Ph.D. (summa cum laude)
1993-1995 'Post-Doc' at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory in connection with the Department of Physics at SUNY Stony Brook
1995-2000 Assistant professorship (C1) at the Laboratory of Crystallography at Bayreuth University. Habilitation and venia legendi (Privatdozent) in Crystallography 1998 EPDIC award
2001 Associate professor (C2) at university of Bayreuth
2001- Tenured staff position (group leader) of the scientific facility diffraction at the Max-Planck-Institute for Solid State Research at Stuttgart
2001-2007 Privat-Dozent for crystallography at the institute for geo- and bio-sciences of the university of Stuttgart
2002-2005 Chairman of the Commission on Powder Diffraction (CPD) of the IUCr
2007- Appointment as Honorary Professor at the geoscience department at the university of Tübingen and as adjunct (ausserplanmäßiger) Professor at the chemistry department at the university of Stuttgart
2016- Appointment as director at large/chair of the technical committee at international Centre for Diffraction data (ICDD) in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.
2020 Will-Kleber-Gedenkmünze (coin) for outstanding efforts in crystallography and the education of young scientists


Durham University, UK

J. Evans

Evans John Evans is a Professor of Solid State Chemistry at Durham University, and was Head of Department from2009 to 2014. His research interests are in the synthesis and properties of (mainly) inorganic materials, their structural chemistry, and their real-world applications. He has worked, inter alia, on negative thermal expansion, symmetry properties of phase transitions, new oxychalcogenides, and energy-related materials, often using in-situ or operando powder diffraction methods. He has a long-standing interest in developing and applying powder diffraction methods, maintains the jEdit interface to the TOPAS Rietveld software, and distributes Rietveld training packages used by 1000s of researchers worldwide (e.g. via, and YouTube @johnevansstructuralscience4018). He is co-author of a 2018 textbook on Rietveld Refinement and a 2021 textbook on “Solid State Materials Chemistry”. He has worked closely with several synchrotron and neutron facilities around the world.

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, France

A. Fitch


Cambridge Structural Database, UK

I. Gimondi


Exclesus, Switzerland


F. Gozzo

Gozzo • M.S. in Physics, Universita' degli Studi, Bari, Italy • Ph.D. in Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland
• Postdoctoral fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Berkeley, California, USA
• Research scientist, Intel Corp., Santa Clara, California, USA
• Project Leader of the spin-off company "Swiss Light Source Techno-Trans AG", Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland
• Senior Researcher and beamline scientist, Swiss Light Source, Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland
• CEO and Founder of Excelsus Structural Solutions
Dr Gozzo has more than 30 years of practical experience with synchrotron facilities, in developing complex instrumentation and using it for the study of pharmaceuticals, pigments, food components, concrete and semiconductors. At the Paul Scherrer Institute, she has contributed to the growth of the Swiss Light Source synchrotron facility where she has developed for more than 10 years a state-of-the-art powder diffractometer, acknowledged in several scientific publications as one of the best ones in the world. Dr Gozzo has built there a substantial industrial and academic user community, including some large pharmaceutical companies. She is recognized as a synchrotron- and powder diffraction expert and as such, is regularly invited at the international level as a speaker, lecturer and scientific advisor. She is the author and co-author of more than 80 scientific articles and book chapters.

Institute Ruder Boskovic, Croatia


I. Halasz

Halasz Ivan Halasz obtained his PhD with Prof. Hrvoj Vančik in 2008 from the University of Zagreb. Following a two-year post-doc with Prof. Robert Dinnebier at the Max-Planck-Institute for Solid state Research in Stuttgart, he joined as a faculty at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb, where he now holds the position of a senior scientist. His research interests are focused on the solid state and encompass solid-state reactions, mechanochemistry, in situ methodology, powder X-ray diffraction and structural characterisation. He published over 100 research papers, two book chapters, and coauthored two high-school chemistry textbooks. In 2016, he received the State Science Award of the Republic of Croatia for his contributions in developing in situ methods for the study of mechanochemical reactions.

MAX IV synchrotron source, Sweden


M. R. V. Jørgensen

Jorgensen Mads Ry Jørgensen is senior scientist at Aarhus University as well as being beamline manager for the DanMAX materials science beamline at the MAX IV Laboratory. Mads obtained his PhD in nanoscience in 2012 studying the electron densities of magnetic coordination polymers. During this work he worked on developing instrumentation for accurate and high-resolution single crystal diffraction using both synchrotron and laboratory X-ray sources. Following this he moved to the Spallation Neutron Source at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he joined the team at the TOPAZ single crystal instrument as a postdoc. Here he focused on optimizing the data quality to obtain the most accurate atomic displacement parameters. Upon returning to Denmark he started working on the conceptual design for the DanMAX materials science beamline. He has since lead the beamline project delivering the beamline into user operation at the 3GeV MAX IV synchrotron storage ring. Mads’ research interest is both in developing in-situ and in-operando diffraction and scattering experiments and the structure-property relationship in piezoelectrics.

Retired from ETH Zurich


L. McCusker

McCusker Lynne McCusker has been performing crystal structure analyses using X-ray powder diffraction (XPD) data for over 40 years. She first learned the intricacies of Rietveld refinement from Christian Baerlocher during a postdoc at ETH Zurich in the early 1980s. Then, as instrumental and computational capabilities developed, they both started exploring the possibility of using powder diffraction data to solve, not just refine, crystal structures. This eventually led to the formation of a joint research group at ETH devoted to developing methodology to solve the crystal structures of polycrystalline materials. Initially, the emphasis was on zeolite structures, but that was later expanded to include other compounds. The approaches developed ranged from improving the estimated intensities of overlapping reflections via calculation or experiment, using real-space information to help compensate for the reflection overlap problem, adapting the charge-flipping algorithm to work with XPD data, combining XPD with other techniques (specifically electron diffraction, electron microscopy and MAS NMR spectroscopy) to address more difficult problems, and exploring the possibilities offered by microdiffraction using the Laue technique or X-FEL. This work was recognized with the Breck Award (2010) and the IZA Award (2013) from the International Zeolite Association, the Edith Flanigen Award (2013) from Honeywell UOP, and an honorary doctorate in natural science from Stockholm University (2014).


D. Olds

Olds bio

ANSTO, Australia


V. K. Peterson

Peterson Prof Peterson obtained her PhD in 2004 from the University of Technology, Sydney and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) neutron scattering group. She worked at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (USA) and the University of Sydney, before returning to ANSTO to commission the two neutron powder diffractometers at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering (ACNS), which she now co-operates. Prof Peterson leads “Energy Materials” research from within the ACNS and specializes in real-time characterization to understand materials function. Her work is recognized by the 2022 Nancy Millis Medal from the Australian Academy of Science, by the 2020 Bob Cheary Award for excellence in diffraction Analysis for significant long-term contributions, by the 2019 Australian Neutron Beam Users award for outstanding research & leadership, by the 2017 Society for Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand’s Sandy Mathieson Medal for distinguished contributions to science, by a 2013 NSW Australian Institute of Policy and Science’s Young Tall Poppy Award, and in 2011 as a finalist for the Eureka People’s Choice Award. Prof Peterson is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Chemistry, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and of the International Centre for Diffraction Data (USA). She is a member of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s Commission on Neutron Scattering. Prof Peterson enjoys roller derby and rock climbing.

Diamond Light Source, UK


L. Sauders

Saunders Dr Lucy Saunders is an early career researcher at Diamond Light Source on the High Resolution Powder X-ray Diffraction beamline, I11. Lucy is a diffraction-oriented chemist with expertise in synchrotron science and in situ methods combining these with spectroscopic techniques to unlock some of the most comprehensive understandings to date of the nature of proton transfer in organic molecular crystals. Lucy started her career in diffraction during a university placement (2009/2010) at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France working on the High Resolution Powder X-ray Diffraction beamline ID31 (now ID22) under the supervision of Prof. Andy Fitch. Enjoying crystallography and research at large scale facilities, Lucy undertook a PhD jointly funded by the University of Bath and Diamond Light Source working in small molecule single crystallography on I19 under the supervisions of Profs Chick Wilson, Paul Raithby (Bath) and Dr Harriot Nowell (Diamond). Following her PhD, Lucy joined beamline I19 at Diamond for a postdoctoral position (April 2017 to April 2021) where she continued to focus on molecular proton transfer systems and designed an in situ electric field crystallography set up in collaboration with Hamish Yeung, at the University of Birmingham, UK. It was during this post that Lucy attended her first ever Erice School, being a participant of the Quantum Crystallography school in June 2018. In her current role as a beamline scientist on I11 (June 2021 to present), Lucy supports the user community on beamline visits whilst continuing her research. In recognition of her achievements in chemical crystallography, Lucy was awarded the CCDC Chemical Crystallography Prize for Younger Scientists in April 2023 and gave the prize lecture during the British Crystallographic Spring Meeting in Sheffield, UK.

Diamond Max Planck Institute, Germany


M. Terban

Terban Maxwell Terban is a scientist in the X-ray Diffraction group of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany. Previously, he graduated from UMass Amherst in 2012 with a B.S. in chemical engineering, then earned a Ph.D. in materials science from Columbia University in New York City in 2018. His research focuses on materials structure characterization through x-ray scattering techniques, and his interests include the study of formation and structure−property relationships of functional materials including nanomaterials, polymers, small molecules, and microporous compounds.

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, France

g. Vaughan


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Future Schools

2025 • 60th Course
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2026 • 62nd Course
Structural Biology

Dubravka Sisak Jung

Jung Dubravka Sisak Jung fell in love with crystallography while studying chemistry at the Faculty of Science and Mathematics at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. After a short period of working as a teaching assistant at the University, she joined the crystallography laboratory at the pharmaceutical company PLIVA in Zagreb. At PLIVA, she started using powder X-ray diffraction for structural investigations of active pharmaceutical ingredients and finished products. This exciting field led her to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), where she completed her PhD thesis on structure determination from powder diffraction data in the group of Lynne McCusker and Christian Bärlocher. After the PhD, she joined DECTRIS Ltd, a company developing and producing X-ray and electron detectors. Over the years, her work included business development in the field of materials science (powder X-ray diffraction, total scattering, X-ray spectroscopy), support in development and use of instrumentation at synchrotron sources and in laboratories, marketing, and educational outreach. She is a board member of the Swiss Society for Crystallography.

Matteo Leoni

Leoni Matteo Leoni is currently a scientist at Saudi Aramco in Dhahran (Saudi Arabia). He holds a Ph.D. degree in Materials Engineering from the University of Rome "Tor Vergata" and a formal habilitation as Full Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and Experimental Physics of Matter. He spent most of his career at the University of Trento (Italy) and covered several roles at the International Centre for Diffraction Data, serving also as Chair of the Board of Directors. He's member of the Commission on Powder Diffraction of the IUCr. He has theoretical and experimental experience in powder diffraction in the lab and at large scale facilities. His main interest is in real materials and the development of techniques to capture their DNA (structure and microstructure/nanostructure) using Powder Diffraction techniques.

Dave Billing

Billing Dave Billing was born in Johannesburg, South Africa where he remains resident and currently is a Professor in the School of Chemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand. Since 2016 he is also the Assistant Dean : Infrastructure and Operations in the Faculty of Science. After completing a PhD in chemical crystallography, an interest in real materials steered him towards powder diffraction, and for the last approximately 30 years he has been using powder diffraction and related methods to gain insights into some structure-property relationships in functional materials, most recently focusing on energy materials, and the use of synchrotron-based methods. Dave was elected to the IUCr’s Commission on Powder Diffraction in 2011, serving as its chair from 2017 to 2023. He was a co-editor for Acta Crystallographica B from 2010 to 2017, and has co-authored >120 research papers and so far supervised >35 post graduate student projects.