Meetings without meeting....
The MLZ User Meeting took place on Dec. 8th and 9th. It was planned as a special event this time because it was linked to the also by MLZ organised DN2020 (Deutsche Neutronenstreutagung) on Dec. 9th and 10th by a joint poster session.
Under normal conditions, the 405 registered participants of the MLZ User Meeting and the DN2020 would have met at a conference hotel in Munich downtown and enjoyed discussions, networking, and just chatting with old friends during a poster session with beer and pretzels between Dec. 8th-10th. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing corona pandemic, this was impossible. But there was no thought of a cancellation and therefore, MLZ and the KFN (Komitee für Forschung mit Neutronen), who is the patron of the DN, decided to switch to purely virtual events. And thus, a total of 96 talks were held via ZOOM during these three days.
On the first afternoon of the User Meeting, participants gathered for the six parallel workshops of the MLZ Science Groups Materials Science, Soft Matter, Quantum Phenomena, Structure Research, Neutron Methods, and Nuclear, Particle, and Astrophysics. They had to choose between a lot of thrilling talks dealing with so many different topics: Zoe Fisher (ESS) hunted for enzyme isoform specific ligand binding, Steffen Neumeier (FAU Erlangen) explained, how advanced characterizing techniques help to develop novel Co-based superalloys, Martin Fertl (JGU Mainz) discussed cyclotron radiation emission spectroscopy in the context of precision 𝛽−decay experiments,......
Wednesday morning offered the plenary talks of the MLZ User Meeting. First, MLZ Director Peter Müller-Buschbaum looked back on 2020 here at Garching and explained how the MLZ prepares for mail-in/ remote experiments: an important development in the scope of the pandemic situation. Afterwards, Susann Schorr (HZB) talked about insights into structural disorder in photovoltaic absorber materials using neutron diffraction. Akira Uedono (University of Tsukuba) presented the usefulness of positron annihilation spectroscopy, and finally, Julian Oberdisse (Laboratoire Charles Coulomb) answered the question "How much information is in my scattering data?". The report on the work of the MLZ User Committee by its chair Adrian Rennie (University of Uppsala) closed the talks of the User Meeting.
After a short break, the DN2020 started. Traditionally, the Wolfram Prandl Prize is awarded during the DN - this was also the case this time: The awardee 2020 was Sabrina Disch of University of Cologne for her research results on magnetic nanoparticles that she presented in her awardee lecture afterwards. (don't miss our article about this!)
On Wednesday afternoon, the poster session started. 159 posters waited for online visitors. In the beginning, some server problems disturbed the experience but fortunately they could be solved on short time notice. After this stumbling start, visitors went into the online rooms and discussions at the posters picked up speed. Late afternoon saw many participants using the rooms for chatting with colleagues.
The third day was then dedicated to the DN2020: It started with the plenary talks of Markus Appel (ILL), Thomas Hellweg (Universität Bielefeld), Nathalie Kunkel (Universität Göttingen),Bastian Märkisch (TUM), Alexander A. Tsirlin, (Universität Augsburg), and Martin Weik (IBS). After a short break, the participants spread among three parallel sessions, before the event was closed with the presentation of the 12th KFN, that had been elected shortly before. The 11th KFN chair Astrid Schneidewind (FZJ) handed over her position to Frank Schreiber (Universität Tübingen). (Have a look at the detailed event report!)
Because this was the first big virtual event the MLZ organized, we asked the participants to complete a survey. We are happy that so many took this opportunity! We learned that the talks were very well received (from both the presenters' and listeners' side) but about the poster session, opinions were divided... We got a lot of ideas how to improve such an event in the future and are thankful for this.
We all missed the same thing: The face-to-face meeting, the socialising, the little chats with people one meets by accident. Therefore we hope for better circumstances on the next MLZ User Meeting on Dec. 07th and 08th, 2021!
I. Lommatzsch (JCNS)