Education Corner

Dr Yinka Olatunji-Ojo

Dr Yinka Olatunji-Ojo received her BS in Chemistry from Texas Southern University in 2008 and her Ph.D, in Chemistry from the University of North Texas in 2013, utilizing computational methods to study inorganic and organometallic systems for various applications. Dr Olatunji-Ojo was a postdoctoral scientist at the University of California, Berkeley until 2017 before joining a medical device startup as a computational scientist. In January of 2019, Yinka joined the CCDC as a user support scientist and a member of the education and outreach team. Yinka is passionate about scientific outreach to the broader public. She resides in Oakland, CA and is an avid sports fan.

The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) are world-leading experts in structural chemistry data, software and knowledge for materials and life sciences research. However, the CCDC does more than curate the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD), write scientific software, and carry out scientific research. We are a non-profit/charity organization with a mission to promote crystallography and structural science for the public benefit. We continue to accomplish this part of our charitable mission through education and outreach initiatives. To that end, many CCDC staff members participate in educational opportunities around the world and within our local communities. We are involved in science festivals, crystallography schools, and deliver workshops within our global structural science community.

CCDC Mission

Before the pandemic, we were not always able to participate in education and outreach activities either due to time constraints or not being able to travel to the location. Creating online resources that are freely available on our website was a way to provide training materials even if we could not lend our expertise in real time. With the pandemic, we have focused on improving and increasing the materials we have available on our website, making sure that they are accessible and well-suited for a virtual platform.

Online resources

Virtual resources have become an essential part of education and outreach at the CCDC. We have created a range of resources for different learners (Educational resources): modules that can be used in classrooms from high school to undergraduate level courses, teaching subset of the CSD that can be used to teach specific structural chemistry concepts, and home learning activities for younger scientists. These resources are free to use with acknowledgement or citation included. The resources are created by CCDC employees, our educator collaborators (Check out our CSD Educator series of blogs), and members of the structural chemistry community at large. There are also self-guided workshops materials and short How-To videos demonstrating specific features in our software. We now have over 90 videos published! Most of our virtual events are recorded and made available through our YouTube and LabTube sites.

Home learning activities for kids

Introductory level activities

Crystal Adventures home learning activities for the 2021 Cambridge Festival

In March 2021, we designed an introductory level activity on crystallography for the Cambridge Festival geared towards participants aged 8 and above called Crystal Adventures. The participants were encouraged to grow their own crystals in the form of rock candy and were introduced to the concept of polymorphism through chocolate, snow, and Legos. The activities are available on our website and designed to be home and classroom friendly. Apart from the “Make your own snow” activity which required a kit, all the activities used materials found at home which reduces the barrier to participating. To empower the guides who would be leading these activities (parents, adults) who might not have scientific backgrounds, we ensured that glossaries with scientific definitions were included, explanations of the scientific concepts demonstrated in the activities were also included as well as videos demonstrating the process and expected outcomes. While glossaries and step-by-step explanations were already featured in our other Home Learning activities, the addition of videos is new for Crystal Adventures, and we can see from the views that including videos is useful and important. We plan on including videos demonstrating the processes in future festival activities.

CSD University

CSD University logo

CSD University is the newest virtual learning resource created at the CCDC. CSDU will be a collection of on-demand modules designed to guide learning and enhance knowledge of the CSD and software with a hands-on approach. It is for everyone who wants to explore how to use CSD tools for their research, teaching, and learning, and do it at their own pace and most convenient time - they also get a certificate for their efforts at the end (if they pass of course). The first module, Visualisations 101, is now live and we plan on adding more modules throughout the year.

Virtual Workshops

While our CSDU modules are a great way to learn on demand, we know there is nothing quite like having a tutor on hand to ask questions and guide you through exercises and that is why we also offer CCDC Virtual Workshops. This year we are hosting three cycles of virtual workshops each consisting of three workshops over a three-week period in April, July and November. We vary the times for the workshops to allow attendees in various parts of the world an opportunity to attend. The format for each workshop is Show One, Try One, Explore More. The Show One portion includes an initial presentation to go over the concepts that will be covered, then a live demo of the software. We provide handouts ahead of time so attendees can print it out or familiarize themselves with the Try One portion. While the handout is a short, self-guided workshop, we have tutors available to answer questions and assist the attendees. The Explore More section is usually a mix of additional information on more advanced use of the software as well as a challenge or fun quiz to gauge the knowledge of attendees. The workshops are engaging, well attended and we have received positive feedback on the content of the workshop. Registration is part of the CCDC Events Calendar.

Resources for crystallographic instruction

Zika virus paper model

Education by topic page from the Database of Educational Crystallographic Online Resources (DECOR)

We also have resources geared towards helping lecturers teach crystallography. The Database of Educational Online Crystallographic Resources (DECOR) is a collection of educational resources for learning crystallographic concepts. It was created and initially hosted by Prof. Michael Zdilla at Temple University, and he approached the CCDC in 2019 to begin the process of transferring the resource. Since then, we have received new contributions and are able to track the usage of the collection. The resources are arranged by type and by topic. The types of resources available are slides/visual aids, educational software, online courses, and practice problems. The topics covered range from crystal lattices, symmetry, to metal-organic frameworks. We are grateful for all the educators who have contributed resources to DECOR. If you have resources that you would like to donate to DECOR, please contact us at

As we continue to improve our online resources, feedback from the community is an important part of the process. Feedback on our materials can be provided to and for specific self-guided workshops materials, feedback can be provided here. To stay up to date on our various virtual events and new educational resources, you can sign up for the education and outreach newsletter here. We hope to see you at one of our upcoming virtual events!