Sigma Xi Chapter Delegates Gather in Washington
A Summary of the Fall 1997 Annual Meeting
Sigma Xi chapter delegates from across the U.S. and Canada gathered in Washington, D.C., in November for the annual meeting. Also represented were chapters from Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany and Mexico.
Through regional assemblies, assemblies of delegates, workshops and informal discussions, the annual meeting offers delegates of Sigma Xi’s 514 chapters a chance to learn more about the Society, to gather ideas for chapter-based programs, to interact with colleagues from other chapters and regions and to vote on business issues.
Two modest changes were approved at the meeting, one including an increase in the regular annual dues from $45 to $48 (and a reasonable expectation that future dues increases will track the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index), and the other removing formal designation of a "provisional chapter" from the bylaws and constitution of the society. This last measure places all Sigma Xi chapters on equal footing.
Ten workshops focused on such topics as designing a chapter Web site, ethics, international collaboration in science and technology development and new options for chapter programs.
Educating Your Members of Congress Through In-State Meetings to Support Research and Development: Many of the issues facing the research community have important consequences at the local level. In the summer of 1997, the University of Michigan Chapter and the Michigan State University Chapter, in cooperation with their host institutions and neighboring colleges, provided a research-oriented tour for Michigan congressional staff members. The tour highlighted federally supported research and science education and how future cuts in funding might jeopardize economic competitiveness. This successful venture into the area of public policy could serve as a model for other chapters to follow.
Integrating Research and Education at the Undergraduate Level: The Keck Geology Consortium Student Faculty Research Program is an example of how Sigma Xi chapters and their host institutions can foster independent student research in a supportive environment. This group of 12 liberal arts geoscience departments cooperate to enhance research opportunities for students and faculty. Member institutions include Amherst College, Beloit College, Carleton College, Coloroado College, Franklin & Marshall College, Pomona College, Smith College, Trinity University, Washington and Lee University, Whitman College, Williams College and the College of Wooster. A day-long, annual undergraduate research symposium initiated seven years ago at North Carolina State University was highlighted as another successful chapter activity. Nearly 200 undergraduate students made research presentations at the most recent event.
Scientific Communication—Issues on the Electronic Frontier: Fred Spilhaus, executive director of the American Geophysical Union, who launched one of the most ambitious electronic-publishing ventures in science, Earth Interactions, said technical problems, archiving issues and the difficulty of establishing a community of contributors and paid subscribers have not yet been conquered. Brian Hayes, computing columnist for American Scientist, discussed the new publishing paradigm offered authors by the Internet, and American Scientist editor Rosalind Reid noted that Sigma Xi's concerns for the health of the research enterprise and for better public understanding of science are both related to encouraging good use of the Internet.
Communicating Science on Television: Veteran CBS broadcaster Bill Kurtis, who was inducted as an honorary member of Sigma Xi, talked about his acclaimed PBS science documentary series "The New Explorers with Bill Kurtis," which has spawned an innovative education program called the Electronic Long Distance Learning Network (eld!n). This education project combines problem-based learning in the classroom with parental involvement at home to help Illinois students meet new science learning standards.
Expanding Opportunities for Scientists with Disabilities: Larry Scadden, of the National Science Foundation, demonstrated computer hardware and software, voice synthesizers and Braille printers that help sight-impaired scientists. Pfizer research chemist Todd Blumenkopf discussed, from a personal perspective, the misperception that chemistry is an unreasonably hazardous field of study or line of work for a disabled individual. He shared examples of modifications in laboratory design used by working chemists with disabilities and cited information resources available on the Web.
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