Dana A. Baum

Dana BaumPresent Position

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemistry Graduate Program Coordinator, Saint Louis University

Chapter Affiliation

Saint Louis University

Background Information



My Sigma Xi membership has been listed on my CV for years and I have enjoyed being affiliated with a multidisciplinary professional organization known for its support of undergraduate research and scientific literacy through American Scientist. Serving as my chapter’s delegate for the Sigma Xi’s Annual Meeting was an inspirational experience for me. During delegate sessions, I participated in discussions on topics about challenges that I realized were not isolated to my chapter, but were being felt across the region. 

  1. Career Development – Students at all levels need better guidance on career options and how to develop the skills necessary for the path they want to take. Educators often only know what it took for them to be successful in obtaining their position, so educators need access to better advising resources. Another significant challenge is motivating students to think realistically about their career path and doing this before they are desperately looking for employment. Developing and sharing advising and networking resources could provide tools to chapters for engaging with students and educators and could allow for broader outreach in communities.

  2. Increasing and Retaining Membership – I believe increasing membership is a challenge for many professional organizations. One has to feel the value of their membership fees, outside of the prestige of listing an organization on their CV. I feel Sigma Xi stands out with its Grants-in-Aid program and American Scientist. Strengthening chapters can help by providing a local community of engagement and can lead to interest in the national organization. One significant challenge in my own chapter is we often nominate members who are at the end of their academic career with us and are moving to other locations. These members often fall off the radar because they don’t update contact information. We also do not know if a Sigma Xi member moves to our area and might be interested in joining our chapter. I think the new Communities system is a good step towards addressing some of these challenges, but there is still work to do.

  3. Engagement – Social media is now so important in our daily life. I personally was pleased to see the encouragement of social media engagement by Sigma Xi leadership during the National Meeting and the activity of the leadership now in response to the numerous attacks on science we see on a daily basis. Social media can allow for outreach to areas that are isolated in terms of a scientific community. Providing workshops on effective social media usage to chapters could have a huge impact on engagement with the public, something that is desperately needed at this time.

I feel compelled to work on these challenges and I hope to do so as your Southeast Regional Director.


Sigma Xi and Other Activities

My relationship with Sigma Xi started when I was inducted as an Associate Member upon completing my Bachelor’s degree. I then achieved Full Member status when I earned my Ph.D. I became actively involved in the Saint Louis University (SLU) Chapter when I was asked to help with SLU Chapter’s annual research symposium. This research symposium is our chapter’s premiere event and keeps attracting more participants (over 75 graduate and undergraduate presenters for our last event).  Our chapter has worked hard in the past several years to get the word out about this event and we are hoping to expand to include participants from outside SLU in the future. After being involved for a couple years, I was nominated and elected Chapter Secretary and served as our Chapter Delegate to the National Sigma Xi Meeting in 2016. I have recently been elected Chapter President-elect. In addition to my work with Sigma Xi, I am also the Program Committee Chair for the Saint Louis Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). I actively participate in discussions on campus focused on women in STEM and have served as a panelist for Expanding Your Horizons, an annual outreach event in the St. Louis area focused on encouraging young women to pursue careers in STEM. I am also actively engaged in research, including graduate students, undergraduate students, and summer high school students.