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November 16, 2005
James W. Porter Elected President of Sigma Xi
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - University of Georgia marine ecologist James W. Porter was elected president-elect of Sigma Xi at the Society's Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference in Seattle earlier this month. He will begin serving as president-elect in July 2006 and succeed James Baur as president in July 2007.
After he earned a B.S. in biology at Yale University, a summer of fieldwork at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama inspired an interest in the ecology and physiology of marine invertebrates. Porter went on to earn his Ph.D. at Yale.
His first academic appointment was as an assistant professor of natural resources at the University of Michigan.
In 1977, he moved to his present position in the University of Georgiaís Institute of Ecology, serving in a variety of administrative posts, including curator of invertebrates at the Georgia Museum of Natural History. In 2004 he became Meigs Professor of Ecology.
A life member of Sigma Xi since 1972, Porter is president of the University of Georgia Chapter.
He believes communication is a cornerstone of science and makes an effort to share his research findings with the general public and elected officials. He has testified before Congress and conducted many media interviews.
His widely reported discovery of a fecal coliform bacterium as the causal agent of coral disease in the Florida Keys influenced the upgrade of wastewater treatment facilities there.
Porter is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as the American Society of Naturalists and is also an active member of the Explorers Club. He received the 2005 Eugene P. Odum Award from the Ecological Society of America.
An official organizer of the Eleventh International Coral Reef Symposium (Boca Raton, 2008), he has also served as director for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/World Wildlife Fundís Marine Campaign.
His recent books include The Everglades, Florida Bay, and Coral Reefs of the Florida Keys (with K.G. Porter) and The Ecology and Etiology of Newly Emerging Marine Diseases.
"Sigma Xi needs to help the public understand what science is," Porter says. He embraces the Societyís willingness to articulate a scientific perspective on global challenges.
He believes Sigma Xi should also be a leader in promoting quality science education. "The assault on what may be taught in schools and printed in textbooks strikes at the heart of the next generationís ability to lead in an increasingly technological and globalized society."
Sigma Xi is the international honor society of research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters in North America and around the world. It was founded in 1886 at Cornell University. In addition to publishing American Scientist magazine, the Society sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering education, ethics in research, the public understanding of science, international networking and the health of the research enterprise.