January 12, 2016
Starting, as we are, a new year after a pretty tumultuous 2015 that included leadership changes and the relocation of the headquarters offices, I wanted to tell you how proud I have been to represent your interests to the board of directors, the scientific community, and the public. I can assure you that the Society leadership is working very hard to enhance our existing programs and to create innovative programs when necessary. We continue to find operational efficiencies here at headquarters, but you should know that we are as lean as we can get. Our current staff will be looking to our membership and calling on our marvelous chapters to help attract new members and regain the ones that have fallen off the Sigma Xi wagon. We have put in place many ways to help you.
Over the coming days, weeks, and months, you will learn about additional enhancements that will provide access to more concentrated, goal-oriented support from us to you at the local level. Today we are looking to increase the ways in which we all communicate our passion—science—to each other and to the public. We are rolling out new ways to assist you in weighing in on national and international issues that serve as lifeblood to us as individuals and to our professions. Think of it as a growing movement by which Sigma Xi Speaks.
During the latter part of last year, I met one-on-one with the leadership of many national science organizations: AAAS, AAU, NIH, Council of Graduate Schools, APLU, and The National Academies. In every case, I encountered the warmest of courtesy and highest regard for Sigma Xi. Most of the people I visited with are Sigma Xi members, who are exceedingly proud of their honor. Seeing our certificate of induction on the walls of many of the unquestionably leading scientists and engineers in this country infuses me with pride and enthusiasm. Hearing them talk about their pride, wow! It should be thus for all of us.
Sigma Xi’s enduring network of local chapters is admired by organizations that wish to strengthen connections among their own individual members. My message to them is that we are 500+ chapters ready to take up the important banner of issues that impact all of us now and for the foreseeable future. Each meeting resulted in their desire to interact with our remarkable “local footprint.” These contacts—many of the principal organizations in research and leaders for science policy in this country—want our powerful and varied voice back on the forefront to support science with them. I have pledged our participation and your elected leaders have endorsed a reentry to the national conversation on science from the standpoint of research investment and a sound basis for policy and decision-making. That voice is not at Sigma Xi headquarters or even on the Board; it is your voice, the collective of some 100,000 strong who can weigh in.
To help you, I have established a third directorate at Sigma Xi headquarters: Membership, Chapters, and Programs. Your brand new director is Dr. Eman Ghanem, and working with her is Janelle Simmons, manager of programs. They are charged up to work with you. In addition, we will be exploring collaborative opportunities with new partners throughout the year. I hope you will re-strengthen your resolve to participate broadly in all that we offer as an organization.
Friends, you have told me, “We want a voice on the national scene. We want persuasive messages and great tools that we can use at the local level, too.” To that end, I have an experiment in communication for you. Hopefully, this will be recognized as a grassroots science-for-the-people initiative. Through our myriad programs and publications like American Scientist, we create and have access to content that is public-ready. I am inviting you to do a simple cut and paste project. I want you to take an array of science content that we provide and simply share it with all of your personal social media contacts: Facebook friends and family, Twitter followers, Instagram fans, LinkedIn group members, etc. You don’t have to write or create anything, just pass it on. This information is similar to what you’ll find in Sigma Xi SmartBrief only it comes with the gentle touch of our wonderful staff.
The objective is to expose folks to science and that mysterious process, research. Expose them through people-friendly content. Expose local, state, and national officials and legislators to persuasive, easily understood depictions of complex societal issues and solutions that have science at the core. Will you pass on this information and then keep doing it as a routine action, as a voice for science? Look to receive Sigma Xi Speaks coming to your email address soon.
Sigma Xi Speaks, a spreading wildfire of science.
Know this. The headquarters staff, your Board, and I are totally dedicated to helping you be the organizing principle behind which science professionals can marshal support, speak for science, and deal with the myriad challenges we face.
Dr. John C. Nemeth
Sigma Xi Executive Director and CEO