An italian voyage of discovery
Here, I do not claim to appear or already be considered as an expert crystallographer. Far from it! In fact, this article simply aims to share a series of unforgettable training experiences on my road that will gradually lead me to become, one day, an expert crystallographer following my elders in science, who still make me want to learn more and more every day on the uses of X-ray techniques.
Thanks to the invaluable help and invitation from Sophie Cazalbou and Audrey Tourette of the “Phosphates, Pharmcotechnie et Biomatériaux” research team at the Interuniversity Center for Research and Materials Engineering (CIRIMAT) in Toulouse, France, I spent two months at their facilities in 2016. It was the first time I had come into contact with a powder X-ray diffractometer, and I was trained by Cedric Charvillat, Head of the X-ray Diffraction platform. This short, self-funded internship allowed me to complete my PhD thesis as quickly as possible under the supervision of my professor, Etienne Sagbo. This success opened up many other opportunities for training in crystallography and X-ray techniques by experts at IUCr-UNESCO OpenLabs, schools, and workshops. As a compliment on my thesis defense, Professor Cazalbou gave me a copy of Cristallographie Geométrique by Nadine Millot. This book was dedicated “to encourage me to become soon an expert crystallographer”. It was a blessing!
A year later, with my work on the “Conversion of Achatina snail shell acclimatized in Benin calcium phosphate for medical and engineering use”, partly carried out with Professor Cazalbou at CIRIMAT, I had the great pleasure of receiving the Best Poster Award at the Second Pan African Conference on Crystallography (PCCr2) in Accra, Ghana, in 2019. It was the first time I had received a prize at an international meeting with eminent crystallographers coming from all over the world. And to add to the occasion, I received the award from the hands of the IUCr Executive Outreach Officer, Michele Zema, who would go on to play a crucial role in the continuation of my adventure in crystallography. The prize consisted of the IUCr book A Little Dictionary of Crystallography, edited by A. Authier and G. Chapuis. Upon my request, Professor Zema dedicated this book to me, writing “To my friend Sidoine, wishing you a great career in crystallography”.