Sigma Xi Companion Chapters
Examples: Louisiana State University Chapter - Malaysia Group and
San Diego Chapter - Ensenada Group
Purpose: To connect groups participating in the Packard Initiative with a Companion Chapter as an additional form of networking and support. The Packard International Science Networking Initiative is a program sponsored by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation designed to create networks of scientists and engineers in developing countries and to foster long-term partnerships of those communities, established Sigma Xi chapters, and researchers throughout the world. Companion Chapters help the groups find ways to use Sigma Xi affiliation as a means of strengthening the research enterprise in their institutions, regions and countries. Companion Chapters have the opportunity to share examples of Sigma Xi at its best--chapter level programs and activities. Bearing in mind that this networking is a two-way relationship, participating as a Companion Chapter is a great way for individual chapter members to expand their international networks and learn about scientific developments that are often overlooked in the developed world. The Packard Initiative networking groups are an excellent source of contacts for collaborations in addition to student/researcher exchanges. Finally, it gives members of the Companion Chapters an opportunity to learn from researchers in developing countries, who have often found ingenious ways to overcome budget and infrastructure limitations.
Participants: Chapter members, Packard networking group organizers and members
Description: A Companion Chapter basically serves to communicate electronically, advise the networking group about Sigma Xi and typical chapter activities, and get to know the researchers.
The examples given are two different models of Companion Chapters. The LSU-Malaysia relationship is an example of one chapter member encouraging researchers from a particular region distant from their own chapter. These interactions take place mostly via e-mail and can involve nominating new members as well as co-sponsoring their dues. Manjit Kang of the Louisiana State University Chapter nominated several researchers for membership in the Society while in Malaysia as a Fulbright Scholar. In order to make membership economically feasible for these talented researchers, Dr. Kang earmarked some of the proceeds from an international symposium he organized on Quantitative Genetics, Genomics and Plant Breeding to pay for half of the dues of new Malaysian members. He keeps in close contact with the group's organizer, discussing both group developments as well as common research interests.
In another model, Companion Chapters host joint seminars and events with the networking group when it is geographically feasible. The San Diego Chapter held several informational and planning meetings with researchers in nearby Ensenada, Mexico to talk about the possibility of forming a local Sigma Xi Chapter. In addition, these groups have held joint tours of scientific facilities in Ensenada as well as San Diego. Representatives of the San Diego Chapter were even able to present the membership certificates to the new initiates in person during a luncheon meeting in Mexico. Over two years, more than 10 members from the San Diego Chapter have been directly involved. As a result, fifteen researchers from Ensenada have become Sigma Xi members.
Cost implications and source of funds: Costs associated with being a Companion Chapter can range anywhere from nothing up to several hundred dollars.
Time commitment: On average, less than two hours per month; more if you intend to hold in-person meetings and activities.
Number of People Involved: Initially, two or fewer people from each side are involved in the e-mail exchanges. Having one contact person for each group works well for clear communication. For joint activities such as symposia, 20 or more people from each side may be involved.
Outreach/Publicity: Being a Companion Chapter is a great way to vitalize the chapter by engaging members interested in international networking. This provides great publicity within your institution and offers and opportunity to complement other international efforts within your department/institution.
Sigma Xi membership implications: Companion Chapters not only encourage researchers around the world to become Sigma Xi members, but they also help the group to explore what types of typical chapter activities would be suitable and sometimes even make individual memberships possible via financial sponsorship.
Checklist for Potential Companion Chapters:
- Solicit chapter members for interest in being a Companion Chapter and see if there are particular regions/countries to which members or departments have connections.
- Notify Sigma Xi's International Program Coordinator that you would like to serve as a Companion Chapter and indicate any regional/country preference.
- After being assigned to a networking group, e-mail the group's coordinator to introduce your chapter. Find out about the group's research focus, strengths, needs and opportunities. Tell about your chapter's research focus, strengths, needs and opportunities and the many ways in which the chapter serves the local research community.
- Be patient but persistent. Remember that the group's coordinator is a volunteer and may not always be able to respond immediately. Do not go more than four weeks without contact unless previously agreed (for some reason like holidays or vacation).
- Remember that it is a two-way relationship and try to learn from each other.
- If your chapter would like to sponsor memberships or any other Sigma Xi activities, please contact the International Program Coordinator.
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
P. O. Box 13975
3106 East NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Telephone: 919-549-4691 or 800-243-6534