October 30, 2015
For immediate release
Jamie L. Vernon, Ph.D.
John Nemeth, Ph.D.
Director of Science Communications and Publications, Editor-in-Chief of American Scientist
Director of Finance and Administration, Corporate Administrator
Executive Director and CEO
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Scientists and engineers who are members of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society met October 22–25 in Kansas City to share their research, give students feedback on their projects, hear from their award-winning peers, and attend career development workshops.
Approximately 200 people attended Sigma Xi’s Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference. Sigma Xi’s professional members and chapters met and shared posters about their work. Later, professional scientists and engineers volunteered to judge 83 research presentations by high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from around the world. The questions and feedback the judges provided to the students will help to improve their research and presentation skills. The student poster presentation session was sponsored by the District of Columbia Sigma Xi Chapter.
Medals were given to the students who ranked the highest in a particular research category, such as chemistry or engineering. The medals were awarded by research category in high school, undergraduate, and graduate divisions. In highly competitive categories, a runner-up was also awarded a medal. Additionally, these students were invited to join Sigma Xi through nominations from the Society’s Board of Directors. The board will pay for the first year of membership dues and initiation fees for the students who accept this invitation.
Students also selected their peers for Student Choice Awards, sponsored this year by the District of Columbia Sigma Xi Chapter. The first place winner was Michael Emami of the University of California, Irvine. He received $100. Five additional students will share $200 plus one medal in a second-place tie. Additionally, Sigma Xi’s interim executive director John Nemeth presented Melissa Mobley of Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a special award for her energy, enthusiasm, and communication in presenting her research.
The District of Columbia Chapter invited Omokaro Obire of Nigeria into their chapter. Obire presented a professional research poster during the meeting. The chapter will pay half of her membership dues for five years as she establishes a Sigma Xi Chapter in Nigeria. The other half of her dues will be paid by Sigma Xi’s Young International Scientists (YIS) Dues Fund. Once the Nigeria chapter is created, the District of Columbia Chapter will support it as a sister chapter.
Through panels and workshops, participants learned about entrepreneurship in science, best practices for providing peer review on a scientific paper, how to use social media, how to communicate and teach controversial science-related topics, and successful grant writing tips.
During keynote sessions, Sigma Xi’s 2015 award winners gave lectures about their crucial research and experiences. These speakers included 2014 National Medal of Science recipient May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; National Academy of Sciences member David Williams of the University of Rochester; Larry Johnson, professor of veterinary integrative biosciences at Texas A & M University; and Melissa A. Kenney, a research assistant professor in environmental decision science and indicators at the University of Maryland. By teleconference, the Society inducted its 49th honorary member, Emmy Award-winning science journalist Miles O’Brien.
The meeting included the 116th Assembly of Delegates, for which representatives of Sigma Xi’s chapters came together to hear updates and make governance decisions about the Society. Sigma Xi chapters may be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers in North America and around the world. The Society also recognized its 2015 chapter award winners.
The meeting closed with the induction ceremony of the student award winners to celebrate the future of research and the Society.