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Members » New Member Newsletters » February 2010

February 2010

Sigma Xi New Member Newsletter

Welcome to your Member eBlast. This communiqué depends on your news and views. So e-mail us now at development@sigmaxi.org. We always welcome your contributions.

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


Get a preview of the new issue of American Scientist magazine courtesy of our free e-newsletter American Scientist Update. This issue features articles on lunge feeding in whales, the race for real-time photorealism, gene-culture co-evolution and human diet, and finding Alzheimer's disease. Plus columns by Roald Hoffmann, Henry Petroski, David Kent and Kurt Bollacker. Visit this link.

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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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Grants of up to $1,000 are available to undergraduate and graduate students in all areas of the sciences and engineering. Designated funds from the National Academy of Sciences allow for grants of up to $5,000 for astronomy research and $2,500 for vision related research. For more information, please click here.

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

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Each year Sigma Xi presents a number of prestigious awards that honor outstanding researchers and communicators. These include the William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement, John P. McGovern Science & Society Award, Walston Chubb Award for Innovation and the Young Investigator Award. Click here for more information.

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PETAR V. KOKOTOVIC, a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the recipient of the 2009 Monie Ferst Award from the Georgia Institute of Technology Chapter of Sigma Xi. Since 1977, this national award has honored science and engineering teachers who have inspired their students to significant achievements. Kokotovic's impact as an educator is evident in the success of his students. Click here for more information.

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Thirty-five student researchers received medals and cash awards for their poster presentations at the 2009 Sigma Xi International Research Conference in Texas. More than 200 students participated in this year's conference, representing nearly 100 academic institutions. Click here for more information.

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MICHAEL P. CROSBY (SX 1989) was elected the 74th president of Sigma Xi at the Society's 2009 Annual Meeting, held in The Woodlands, Texas, November 12-15. He will begin his three-year service in FY 2011 as president-elect. He is the interim vice chancellor for research and economic development at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and is currently on leave from his position as executive director for the National Science Board. Click here for more information.

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Each week, Public Radio International's The World Science Podcast (http://theworld.org/science) 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! Be sure to include what you listen to, where and why. If you're retired, we'd still like to hear about what you used to listen to. Please use the subject line MUSIC IN SCIENCE. Like it quiet while you work? The podcast team is also planning a mini-book-review series. Have you read an exciting science book that includes an international perspective? Send a few sentences about what you read, why you liked it and how it is international or global to elsa@sigmaxi.org with subject line BOOK REVIEW. If we like it, we may feature you and the book on the podcast. The World Science Podcast is produced by Public Radio International in collaboration with Sigma Xi, the BBC and WGBH, with funding from the National Science Foundation.

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As part of its Year of Energy 2009, Sigma Xi invited members and the public to share their energy expertise by submitting white papers that present solutions to some aspect of the energy crisis. We had an excellent response, and all accepted white papers are posted online where readers can download, rate and comment on them. Click here for more information.

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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. Visit: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/

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The Learning + Education Group at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology has launched the Encyclopedia of Life, Learning and Education Web site to foster the development of educational tools and materials that encourage collaboration, participation and in-depth exploration about biodiversity. New features have been added to the podcast page, including the first episode featuring the North Atlantic Right Whale (http://education.eol.org/podcast). Visit: http://education.eol.org

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JONATHAN B. GRESSEL (SX 1962) of the Weizmann Institute of Science has won the Israel Prize for Agricultural Research, regarded as the nation's highest honor. An internationally renowned expert on plant biotechnology, Gressel is also chief scientific officer for TransAlgae Ltd. The citation noted that he has carried out "breakthrough studies in the molecular mechanisms that allow the extermination of weeds in agriculture."

EDUARD MULJADI (SX 1990), a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has been elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering for his "contributions to wind turbine control and integration of wind power in the power system grid."

The Natick Chapter of Sigma Xi has instituted an Annual WILLIAM L. PORTER (SX 1961) Memorial Sigma Xi Lecture, in honor of a long-time chapter member who was very active on the program committee, organizing many lectures. Porter died last year at age 91 after a long, productive career with the U.S. Army Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts.

LUCY SHAPIRO (SX 1962), director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine at Stanford University, will receive the 2010 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award for her work on understanding the life of a cell. Sponsored by Abbott Laboratories, this is ASM's premier award for sustained, remarkable contributions to the microbiological sciences. Shapiro's three decades of work on Caulobacter cresentus has provided the most thorough understanding of the cell cycle in bacteria.

PATRICK R. MURRAY (SX 1976) will receive the 2010 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Founders Distinguished Service Award for his more than 25 years of service to the society. An ASM member since 1974, Murray's most visible leadership role has been as the editor-in-chief of four consecutive editions of the "Manual of Clinical Microbiology," a premier ASM publication. He also served for 15 years on the editorial board and as an editor of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

JENNIFER C. SHIEH (SX 2003) has co-authored a "Guide to Research Techniques in Neuroscience" (Elsevier/Academic Press, 2009), an introduction to the wide range of methods used to study the nervous system, from fMRI and electrophysiology to Western blots and confocal imaging. Click here for more information.

RICHARD L. MILLER (SX 1991), past-president of the University of Nebraska at Kearney Chapter of Sigma Xi, was named Outstanding Masters Universities and Colleges U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. The award recognized his work mentoring undergraduate student research through optional lab experiences in all of his classes in which small groups define and investigate a real question that could, and often does, lead to a new discovery. Miller's leadership in teaching and research helped strengthen the commitment to teaching throughout the psychology department, which received the University of Nebraska system-wide teaching excellence award.

SALVATORE P. SUTERA (SX 1958) was appointed interim dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis for a two-year term that began July 1, 2008.

H. BRUCE RINKER (SX 2005), science department chair at North Cross School in Roanoke, Virginia, reports that he and Eileen Crist have edited a new book, "Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis" (MIT Press, 2010). Click here for more information.

ANNA C. PAI (SX 1959) of Davidson, North Carolina, has published a science fiction novel called "Choices" under the pseudonym A. C. White. The story is about genetic cloning, the politics of higher education and the pressures of high end research. It is available at Dorrance Bookstore.

FRED MORRISON (SX 1961), a former president of the Washington, D.C., Chapter of Sigma Xi, says that "Most people probably think that all the authors of Dover scientific reprints died decades ago. In my case, they would be wrong, though obviously I no longer get 'carded' at the liquor store very often. "The Art of Modeling Dynamic Systems" was first published by Wiley in 1991. Bob Rosenbaum noticed that it was the main selection for the Library of Science Book Club for May 1991 and sent me a copy of the brochure. The Dover edition of 2008 has a new preface that includes a brief update for the past 17 years, along with things like a phase plane model of the business cycle, the Picard-Chebyshev numerical ODE solver and, of course, some more references. My most recent submission was to Computers in Science and Engineering on the need for extended floating-point precision of arbitrary length. The current and 1960 standard supported by both hardware and software is only 64 bits, about equal to 16 decimal digits. That's pathetic for a time when the awareness of the properties of nonlinear dynamic systems is no longer as naïve as it was before the days of Lorenz and Feigenbaum. This should have been implemented maybe 40 years ago, since the speed and scale of scientific numerical computations have expanded at the rate of Moore's Law (for CPU performance), doubling every 18-24 months. Oh, and let me say to all economists and politicians that nothing can grow exponentially forever and Moore knows this perfectly well, even if you guys do not. Chip makers are getting around this a little longer by putting multiple CPUs on one silicon chip. Newer technologies, such as quantum computing (whatever that is) may keep the game going even longer, but it's all over when a single atom can function as a transistor, if that is even possible."

JOSEPH S. LEVINE (SX 1973) is co-teaching, with plant ecologist Barbara Bentley, a professional development course for teachers entitled Inquiry and Conservation in Rainforests." This two week graduate course, designed for middle and high school teachers, and for individuals studying for degrees in science education, is taught in July at the Organization for Tropical Studies (www.ots.duke.edu) in Costa Rica. Graduate and professional development/continuing education credits are available through North Carolina State University. The course focuses on field research experience and real-world approaches to conservation. "Past participants tell us that the course has transformed and reinvigorated the way they teach biology," he says. Levine and Kenneth Miller (Brown U), along with the Pearson Foundation, offer four full scholarships to this course, which is also open to applicants who bring their own funding. (Full disclosure: Barbara Bentley takes a small honorarium for her work; as a sponsor, Levine takes no salary, and pays all his own expenses.) "We are looking to maximize both the number and diversity of high school biology teachers who apply for the scholarship, and the number of organizations, corporations and individuals willing to provide professional development funds to enable teachers to participate." This is NOT an ecotourist rainforest adventure, but a rigorous academic course. Click here for more information.

RICHARD J. KOMP (SX 1965), director of the Maine Solar Energy Association (MESEA), recently wrote a report on his solar energy work in Rwanda, which is available on the association Web site along with other reports. At the moment Komp is in Nicaragua working with the Grupo Fenix and the Solar Women of Totogalpa. Last year these women were one of five groups in the world to win the important UN SEED Award, and Komp got to be at the UN headquarters in New York as one of the people representing them to receive the award. Also in 2009 he worked in Pakistan. He will return to Rwanda in April, with a stopover in Mali to check on how the Afriqpower group of orphans are doing in their solar company. Click here for more information.

WILLIAM Z. LIDICKER, JR. (SX 1955), professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, was elected to a second term as president of the International Federation of Mammalogists at the 10th International Congress of Mammalogy held in Mendoza, Argentina, in August 2009.

JOHN CHRYSOCHOOS (SX 1978), professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Toledo, Ohio, has recently published a non-fiction book called "In Reason We Trust," about politics, U.S. government and current affairs. It is available online and in some bookstores, including RoseDog Books. His other books, "Beyond the Blue Ikarian Sea" (non-fiction) and "Elusive Dreams" (fiction on public education), are also available online. Contact him at: jchryso@utnet.utoledo.edu

KARTHIK BODHINATHAN (SX 2009) was awarded the 2009 Alec Courtelis Award by the University of Florida International Center. The award was presented at the International Student Academic Awards Ceremony. The award was presented "in recognition of Karthik Bodhinathan's academic excellence and outstanding contribution to the university community."

THEODORE L. BROWN (SX 1955) has published two new books: "Imperfect Oracle: The Epistemic and Moral Authority of Science" (Penn State University Press, 2009) and "Bridging Divides: The Origins of the Beckman Institute at Illinois" University of Illinois Press, 2009.

For more news items about Sigma Xi members, visit: http://www.sigmaxi.org/about/news/mitn.shtml

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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. Click here for more information.

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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. For more information, visit: http://www.sigmaxi.org/member/membersonly/index.shtml

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Many 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. For more information, visit: http://www.sigmaxi.org/member/dues/autopay.shtml

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

Interim Editor: Charles Blackburn
919-547-5212, or 800-243-6534, ext. 212
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
PO Box 13975
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

P.S. If you have let your membership lapse, you can now reactive it online. For more information, click here.

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