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Members » Emeritus & Life Member Newsletters » March 2010

March 2010

Sigma Xi Emeritus & Life Member Newsletter

We always welcome your news and contributions. Please send any comments or suggestions to development@sigmaxi.org

N.B.: Dates in parenthesis after Members' names denotes their year of induction into Sigma Xi.


Cognitive Scientist to Receive Sigma Xi's 2010 William Procter Prize
Michael J. Spivey (SX 2009) is known for his innovative studies of language and visual perception at the University of California, Merced, where he is a professor of cognitive science. He will receive Sigma Xi's 2010 William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement, presented annually since 1950 to an outstanding scientist or engineer who is known for effective communication of complex ideas.

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Harry Weiss to Receive Evan Ferguson Award for Service
Harry J. Weiss (SX 1949), Iowa State University professor emeritus of mathematics and engineering mechanics, has been selected to receive the 2010 Evan Ferguson Award for Service to the Society. Described in his nomination as a "champion for Sigma Xi," Weiss has served as a member of the Society for more than 60 years. He has been the secretary/treasurer for the ISU Chapter since 1992 and twice has served as interim president.

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Canadian Broadcaster Named Honorary Sigma Xi Member
One of Canada's best-known science journalists will be inducted as an honorary life member of Sigma Xi at the Society's Annual Meeting and International Research Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, November 11-14. Bob McDonald has been communicating science internationally through television, radio, print and live presentations for more than 30 years. He is the host of CBC Radio's award-winning science program Quirks and Quarks.

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Call for Monie Ferst Award Nominations
April 1 is the nomination deadline for the 2010 Monie A. Ferst Award, which honors science and engineering teachers who have inspired their students to significant research achievements. The award consists of a medal and $5,000.

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Follow American Scientist Magazine on Twitter
Follow us on Twitter to keep up with science features, columns, author interviews and book reviews from American Scientist magazine, plus articles on science and technology in the mainstream media selected from our daily and weekly Science in the News e-newsletters. Our handle is @AmSciMag, and the Web address is http://twitter.com/amscimag

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Sigma Xi Featured by National Education Report
Sigma Xi is being featured by the televised series National Education Report segment for the Society's distinguished contributions to the advancement of education nationally and internationally. The short documentary is airing on public and cable television stations in the U.S. and abroad and is also available online.

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New Science Café Guide Available Online
A new Science Café Guide for Sigma Xi Chapters has just been posted online. All current members can access the guide, which is a compilation of tips and resources that will help your chapter plan, publicize and host a science café event.

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Vote for Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award Teams
Public voting for this year's Spirit of Innovation Awards sponsored by the Conrad Foundation of San Francisco opens on March 29, focusing on high school team projects to develop commercial products in aerospace, nutrition, renewable energy and green buildings. Each of the finalist teams has a section on the awards site with videos, photos, blogs and more about who they are and what their product does. Winning teams will participate April 9-10 in the annual Innovation Summit at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Sigma Xi serves as official science advisor for the competition.

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Wanted: Your Favorite Music Each week, Public Radio International's The World Science Podcast features music that scientists listen to while they work-in the lab, in the field or wherever. E-mail: elsa@sigmaxi.org with your own music-in-science story and you may get a spot on the podcast! Check the February 26 podcast to hear from student member Jonathan Fritz (SX 2009) about his favorite album for the chemistry lab.

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USA Science & Engineering Festival
Sigma Xi is proud to be an official partner of the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., October 2010. A collaboration of more than 500 science and engineering organizations, the festival is designed to engage young people in the sciences. It will culminate with a two-day expo on the National Mall featuring hundreds of fun, hands-on activities. People are encouraged to hold satellite events in their communities.

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Share the Honor of Sigma Xi Membership Any active (dues-paying) full member is encouraged to nominate a student or colleague for Sigma Xi membership. Qualifications for membership, nomination forms, dues and membership categories are all available online.


Rita R. Colwell (SX 1960), distinguished professor at the University of Maryland and John Hopkins University, has been named the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. She will receive the prize at a royal award ceremony September 9 during the 2010 World Water Week in Stockholm. Her pioneering research on the prevention of waterborne infectious diseases, especially cholera, has helped protect the health and lives of millions. Colwell is a past president of Sigma Xi and former director of the National Science Foundation.

Naiqian Zhang (SX 1988), professor of biological and agricultural engineering at Kansas State University, will spend four months later this year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of the Philippines Los Banos. Zhang will teach and continue his research in sensors for precision agriculture.

Sue B. Clark (SX 1991), a Washington State University professor and past chair of chemistry in the College of Sciences, has accepted the post of interim dean of the College of Sciences and will serve in that position beginning July 1, in the event that a new permanent dean is not on site by that date.

Aaron M. Podolefsky (SX 1994), president of the University of Central Missouri, has been named president of Buffalo State College.

Shankar Mahalingam (SX 1989), chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Riverside, has been named dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He will formally join the university in August.

Donald G. Burkhard (SX 1949), professor emeritus of physics at the University of Georgia, writes: "It is known by direct observation that stars in their galaxies have been and are accumulating to the outer fringes of their galaxies at a constant acceleration within the galaxy. The current speed reached by the stars in the Milky Way is 200km/sec. Likewise, the universe of galaxies are collectively receding from their point of origin at constant acceleration and also repelling one another with a constant acceleration of the same value as that of the stars within the galaxy. Scientists have attributed the phenomena to forces produced by so-called dark matter and energy. This fairytale account is wrong. A believer in dark matter today is similar to the believer in mysticism in the Middle Ages. The correct explanation is given at the Web site www.donaldgburkhard.com

Gerard Voland (SX 2001), dean at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, has been named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Urbano Fra Paleo (SX 1998) at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain has edited the book Building Safer Communities. Risk Governance, Spatial Planning and Responses to Natural Hazards (IOS Press, 2009). The text deals with proactive policies of governance to deal with natural hazards and mitigate the impact of disasters.

Michael Lewis (SX 1963) of New Brunswick, New Jersey, received the 2009 Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society from the American Psychological Association's Developmental Psychology section. Lewis received the award and gave an address at the 2009 APA conference in Toronto last August.

Raymond S. Nickerson (SX 1959), retired senior vice president of BBN Technologies and research professor at Tufts University, has just published his eighth book, Mathematical Reasoning: Patterns, Problems, Conjectures and Proofs (Psychology Press, 2010). His other recent books from Psychology Press were Aspects of Rationality: Reflections on What it Means to be Rational, and Whether We Are (2008) and Cognition and Chance: The Psychology of Probabilistic Reasoning (2004).

Michael J. Stillman (SX 1992) of Framingham, Massachusetts, is now doing business as DendWrite Communications, offering medical and scientific writing/editing services for white papers, abstracts, poster/oral/slide presentations, manuscripts, Web sites and other formats.

Charles J. Amlaner (SX 1987) is now vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College at Kennesaw State University. In his 23 years in higher education, Amlaner has served as chair of four departments at two universities, the University of Arkansas and Indiana State University, and served two years as an administrative fellow for research and graduate studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana State University.

John W. "Jack" Sommer (SX 1985) of Cornelius, North Carolina, reports that the New Zealand Association of Scientists has released the 2008 Survey of New Zealand Scientists and Technologists there, which he led. The genesis of this project, now 15 years old, lay in 1986 and 1988 surveys of New Zealand scientists that Sommer conducted for Sigma Xi. He says that a 1996 survey was an important source of information for policy-makers in Wellington, and the 2008 survey promises to be a valuable follow-up.

Max J. Seel (SX 1991) has been named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Michigan Technological University. Seel has been serving as interim provost since January 2009. A native of Germany, he taught and did research in quantum chemistry and computational physics at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg until joining the Michigan Tech physics faculty in 1986.

Henry Petroski (SX 1968), Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and professor of history at Duke University, is featured on the cover of the February issue of Civil Engineering. The magazine contains an excerpt from his new book, The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems. Petroski is also the author of an invited chapter on engineers and bridges in the recently released book, Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society, published on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society. He writes the monthly "Engineering" column for American Scientist magazine.

Timir Banerjee (SX 1973) of Louisville, Kentucky, received the 2009 Compassionate Physician Award from the Jewish Hospital and St. Mary's Foundation and has been selected to receive the 2010 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American Association of Neurosurgeons, which will be awarded May 5 in Philadelphia.

Nagib M. A. Nassar (SX 2006), a geneticist, botanist and plant breeder at the University of Brazil, recently published a Letter to the Editor of SciDevNet titled "Indigenous cassava key to tackling malnutrition." Genetics and Molecular Research also published homage to him celebrating his 50 years of teaching and research.

Park S. Nobel (SX 1962), the world's leading authority on the ecophysiology of agaves and cacti, has just published his 16th book, Desert Wisdom/Agaves and Cacti: CO2, Water, Climate Change. The book describes the current uses of these plants and provides predictions on their responses worldwide to future climates. In particular, both agaves and cacti conserve water and produce well in arid and semi-arid regions, in large measure because they employ Crassulacean Acid Metabolism with nocturnal stomatal opening. Both can cope with increasing temperatures and changing rainfall patterns and actually benefit from increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. Check it out on his Web site: www.eeb.ucla.edu/nobel

Leon L. Combs (SX 1968) of Marietta, Georgia, professor and head emeritus of chemistry at Mississippi State University and professor emeritus and chair of chemistry and biochemistry at Kennesaw State University, has published a Christian science fiction book titled A Search for Reality that is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The story is about a scientist's search for reality, which results in his becoming a Christian at a time when acknowledging such an allegiance would result in his being subjected to a "brain wipe" and thus loss of his career. The search by the scientist leads him through various theories of reality and involves virtual reality modules used by the government to mold citizens away from religion and toward acceptance of government's model of reality.

Visit Sigma Xi Members in the News for the latest news items.

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Expanded Collection of Branded Clothing
Don't miss our expanded collection of Sigma Xi and American Scientist clothing. Look for the new American Scientist logo on embroidered polo shirts, a variety of T-shirts, sweatshirts and baseball caps. Men's, women's and children's sizes are available.

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Sigma Xi Affinity Programs
Your Society offers a number of affinity programs that include stimulating opportunities for travel and reduced rates on auto insurance and car rentals, among other benefits.

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Automatic Annual Dues Renewal
Many Emeritus Sigma Xi members are opting for the convenience of automatic membership renewal. You can now have your annual dues paid automatically every year via credit card or bank draft. An e-mail notification of the dues deduction will be sent to you after your credit card or bank account has been charged.

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Let us hear from you! We always welcome your contributions to our eBlasts. development@sigmaxi.org

Editor: Charles Blackburn
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