58th Rocky Mountain Conference on Magnetic Resonance, Colorado

28 Nov 2014

The Rocky Mountain Conference on Magnetic Resonance (RMCMR) is a major international conference for the solid-state NMR and EPR communities. This year, the 58th RMCMR took place in Copper Mountain, Colorado, with over 60 oral and almost 100 poster presentations in the solid-state NMR section. As in previous years, the conference attracted key figures from all areas of solid-state NMR, meaning that the talks were typically interesting, and followed by lively discussion. The talks covered a range of topics including biomaterials, inorganic solids and methods and hardware development. As an NMR spectroscopist with a focus on materials science, this diversity allowed me to broaden my horizons and learn about new experimental techniques and concepts.

While all of the talks were informative, two talks stand out in my mind in particular. The first was from Melinda Duer, who demonstrated that solid-state NMR experiments could be used to provide a fascinating and detailed picture of the structure of native collagen fibrils in bone. The second was given by Charlotte Martineau, who showed how a combination of solid-state NMR and powder diffraction techniques (so-called 'NMR crystallography') can be used to determine the structure of some metal-organic frameworks formed from Zr(IV) and gallic acid. In addition to these talks, the joint NMR/EPR session on dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP) was particularly helpful to those of us who recognize that DNP-enhanced NMR spectroscopy is poised to become an important investigative technique, but are not intimately familiar with the terminology and mechanisms involved. The joint session provided a welcome discussion of these points, rather than – as most talks involving DNP – simply showing the results of the experiments.

The poster sessions and conference meals provided an excellent opportunity for networking and more in-depth discussion with academics at all stages in their careers – from postgraduates to top professors. Unfortunately, I narrowly missed out on being able to present my work as a talk, but was still able to present a poster. However, I feel that I benefited from the more personal and intimate presentation style of a poster session. The work I presented was on recording, interpreting and exploiting the NMR spectra of paramagnetic metal-organic frameworks: tasks that require a combination of chemical and physical knowledge, advanced hardware and a number of non-standard experiments. Therefore, I benefitted greatly from the opportunity to discuss my work face-to-face with other researchers from all over the world, including some who were working on a similar project. This physical networking is invaluable for making new contacts, exchanging ideas and coming up with suggestions for new experiments that will help us to understand our sometimes confusing data.

Overall, this conference has proved very valuable for me, providing me with opportunities for learning, teaching and networking. I am exceedingly grateful to SCI for the financial assistance provided, which was invaluable in allowing me to attend.

Daniel Dawson,
SCI Messel Bursary award winner

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