District of Columbia Chapter Sponsors Sister Chapter in Nigeria

October 13, 2016

Cristina Gouin Paul Omokaro Obire240x187The District of Columbia Chapter created a new model last year for how Sigma Xi chapters can support scientists in other parts of the world. It started when D.C. Chapter President Cristina Gouin-Paul was walking through the professional poster session at the 2015 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. There, she met Omokaro Obire, a professor of environmental microbiology from Rivers State University of Science and Technology in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Obire was presenting her research poster about the effects of oilfield wastewater on crops. 

Those who present a poster at the meeting are nominated to become Sigma Xi members. Obire was inducted on the final day of the meeting. As she and Gouin-Paul talked about her enthusiasm for Sigma Xi, Gouin-Paul offered the support of the D.C. Chapter to help Obire’s efforts in starting a Sigma Xi Chapter in Nigeria. Obire returned to Nigeria and became a long-distance member of the D.C. Chapter, which will pay half of her membership dues for five years as she establishes the Nigerian chapter. The other half of her dues will be paid by Sigma Xi’s Young International Scientists Dues Fund. Once the chapter in Nigeria is up and running, the D.C. Chapter will support it as a sister chapter.  

Back in the United States, Gouin-Paul has been delighted to get pictures of Obire and her students in their lab.

“She has the contacts through me and my chapter to get help when needed,” Gouin-Paul said, “though we are still working on the details for sending donations of lab supplies, funds, etc., so that she receives the items. She and her students serve as inspirations for members of our chapter and the Society.”

Gouin-Paul also hopes to provide grants from the D.C. Chapter to Obire’s students. 

“One-thousand dollars goes a very long way in Nigeria,” Gouin-Paul said. “If we can possibly break through political power and territorial barriers through science—become true, global, zealous companions in scientific research—imagine the possibilities!” 

Scientists in Nigeria are enthusiastic about joining Sigma Xi, Obire said. She knows the D.C. Chapter’s support will help Nigerian scientists by providing networking opportunities with American scientists. It will also help students get basic scientific research equipment.

“Science in America is way more advanced than science in other parts of the world,” Obire said. “Having [the] opportunity to be affiliated will surely give us the opportunity to be abreast with current science even if we do not have the facilities to conduct such research in Africa.”

Sigma Xi chapters who are interested in sponsoring a sister chapter should email chapters@sigmaxi.org

Photo caption: District of Columbia Sigma Xi Chapter President Cristina Gouin-Paul, left, met Omokaro Obire of Nigeria at the 2015 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety