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February 2003

Sigma Xi International Newsletter
Volume 2, Number 2
February 2003

This monthly electronic bulletin is designed to keep subscribers updated on developments in Sigma Xi's international activities as well as links and topics of interest to researchers around the world. To submit an item to the newsletter, contact the International Program Coordinator at international@sigmaxi.org. If you would like to, you can download and print a PDF version of this newsletter. To receive notice of this monthly newsletter, please use this online form.

Past Issues

In This Issue

Moscow Rally of Scientific Schools
A rally of scientific schools will take place at the retreat center of the Russian Academy of Sciences at Zvenigorod, a city near Moscow, this spring (tentatively April 28-30 or May 5-7). This symposium is being organized by the group of Sigma Xi members in Moscow who are forming a Sigma Xi International Partner under the Packard International Science Networking Initiative.

At the moment three Moscow-area scientific schools are committed to participating in the symposium: Golitsyn's school of climate theory and atmospheric physics, Dobrovolsky's school of soil science and Svirezhev's school of mathematical ecology and biosphere modeling. The program includes plenary sessions about the history, pre-history and perspectives of these schools as well as poster sessions on scientific research.

As a traditional form of building a sense of research community in Russia, scientific schools consist of groups that share a common research paradigm, develop specific approaches to solve a wide range of scientific problems, and hold certain mastery in a particular field of science. The role of scientific schools in maintaining the continuity of basic research is well recognized by the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research, which has a special program for supporting scientific schools.

This rally is the first attempt to reestablish long-term partnerships between some of the scientific schools of Moscow and their counterparts in other countries. As such, it will be an occasion for researchers to come together and discuss the role of scientific schools and the benefits of international long-term partnerships. The organizers extend an invitation to all interested researchers to participate in this meeting. If you would like to attend, please send an email to: MoscowPartners@sigmaxi.org by March 1, 2003.

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Mediterranean Distance Learning Initiative
A new initiative designed to accelerate the adoption and best use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-assisted Open Distance Learning in 11 Mediterranean countries that are not European Union members has been launched by UNESCO. The project aims to establish adequate local infrastructures and to transfer best practice and professional know-how within target universities. The
AVICENNA Virtual Campus consists of a network of 15 AVICENNA Knowledge Centers (AKCs). The first operational stage of the AVICENNA campus will consist of staff training in administration and distance teaching methods. In the second stage, existing course materials in scientific and engineering disciplines will be adapted to distance teaching, 5% of which will be adapted for blind students. The science and engineering courses and virtual library will be made available to the first group of 3000 students in January 2004.

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Department Receives Grant for Planning International Engineering Program
Computer Science department at Northern Arizona University recently received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation for their project "The Global Engineering College: Integrating International Training into Engineering Education." Faculty will create a plan to develop a program that provides an integrated, cohesive curriculum to address participation in, and management of small interdisciplinary teams; intercultural teaming; and globally distributed team environments in modern engineering. See their press release for more details.

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Open Access Journal Business Guides
The Budapest Open Access Initiative has just published
two free journal business guides to open-access publishing on their Web site: Guide to Business Planning for Converting a Subscription-based Journal to Open Access and Guide to Business Planning for Launching a New Open Access Journal. [Source: FOS News Blog]

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Interview With: Dr. Doris Vidal, Scientist with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project and the first new Sigma Xi Ambassador

Dr. Vidal convened a meeting of interested researchers and administrators during her visit to Veracruz, México last August.

SX: Did you have any previous connections in Veracruz?
DV: Yes, I did my undergraduate degree there and am still in contact with several of my professors. I am from México and grew up in México City, but I wanted to help start regional and international networking with the prestigious yet less-connected institutions in other states such as Veracruz.

SX: How did you go about organizing and inviting people for a meeting?
DV: I contacted my former professor, who invited the Director of his institute, who, in turn, invited administrators from other institutes, who invited their colleagues as well. We ended up with about 15 people.

SX: Did anything about this meeting surprise you?
DV: I was not expecting the very enthusiastic response of the different Mexican researchers I met with. Despite the different scientific disciplines they belong to, they seem to have a common goal: the improvement of scientific research in Mexico. Because they can see the benefits of networking through an organization like Sigma Xi, they were very interested to hear about the international networking program.

SX: What were the results of this meeting?
DV: They formed a networking group among themselves and their institutions and discussed how they could apply for a Packard Initiative award to teach their students and colleagues about good experimental design and research ethics. People who attended this meeting told their colleagues in the states of Campeche, Tabasco and Yucatán, and these colleagues have contacted me by e-mail and asked me to come and make presentations in their cities. On my side, I belong to the Society for Ecotoxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and am helping them to expand into México as well.

SX: Do you have any advice for future Sigma Xi Ambassadors?
DV: Although I was pretty lucky that so many people were reached in such a short amount of time, I would advise Ambassadors to let their contacts know as far in advance as possible so they can inform their colleagues of the meeting and get better publicity. Also, I think it was important to translate the presentation into their native language. Some of the people attending the meeting were not researchers themselves, so it was important to speak their language. Having a meeting with a small reception allowed the attendees to interact informally with each other and build camaraderie.

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Did You Know?
BioVision, also known as the World Life Sciences Forum, comprises a group of the brightest and most influential people in the world who meet biennially in Lyon, France, to discuss the progress of the life sciences, focusing on biomedical issues and technical advances affecting people's lives and beliefs. The next BioVision meeting will be in April 2003. BioVision.Nxt is a meeting for 100 of the brightest young scientists, post-docs and graduate students from all over the world in the biomedical field that takes place prior to BioVision and is organized by Science's Next Wave and the organizers of BioVision. During the BioVision.Nxt meeting, which is April 7-8, 2003, attendees will participate in a number of exclusive sections focusing on career development and job skills, bioethics in the Life Sciences, and career opportunities in science. Most of the costs for this meeting (hotel and meeting registration) will be covered for the BioVision.nxt participants, and travel expenses might also be paid. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2003, and those from developing countries are particularly encouraged to submit applications.

ICSU (the International Council for Science), in association with CODATA (COmmittee on DATA for Science and Technology), will be hosting an online forum to develop input to the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which takes place in Geneva in December. This forum will be launched on February 10 on the ICSU Web site and will continue until February 28. It will be structured under four themes: 1) Scientific information for decision making and better governance; 2) Ensuring universal access to scientific knowledge internationally, including overcoming the 'digital divide;' 3) Scientific data and information as a global public good; and 4) Using scientific data and information to improve all levels of education and training.

The Department of Population and International Health at the Harvard School of Public Health is offering a Research Ethics Fellowship Program to train professionals from Asian countries in the field of research ethics. This non-degree program is designed to provide a variety of educational experiences to prepare each fellow with the knowledge and skills required to become a practicing bioethicist in his/her community. The application deadline is March 1, 2003. [Source: Scidev.net]

College and university graduates worldwide are invited to submit their diploma/master's theses or dissertations dealing with the theme "Passion for Innovation" to apply for the BMW Scientific Award. Introduced as a means of fostering the creativity and talent of up-and-coming scientists, this competition awards a total of €70,000. The deadline for entries is March 10, 2003.

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Upcoming Meetings
International Symposium on Open Access and the Public Domain in Digital Data and Information for Science; Paris, France; March 10-11, 2003.

World Conference 2003 on Science and Technology Education; Penang, Malaysia; April 7-10, 2003.

BioVision; Lyon, France; April 9-11, 2003.

The First Beijing International Exhibition and Conference on Science Communication Products; Beijing, China; May 21-27, 2003.

For more information on any of the programs mentioned in this newsletter, please contact:

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
P. O. Box 13975, 3106 East NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 USA
Telephone: 919-549-4691 or 919-547-5246
Fax: 919-547-5263
E-mail: international@sigmaxi.org


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