Professional and Student Researchers Gather in Atlanta

November 16, 2016


The 2016 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference, held November 10–13 in Atlanta, Georgia, was an energizing gathering for Sigma Xi chapter leaders, teachers, science supporters, and students. 

The Annual Meeting featured leadership workshops for chapter delegates. Delegates voted on changes to the Society’s constitution, most notably to add the word “honor” to the Society’s name: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society. They also voted to create the opportunity for kindergarten through 12th grade students who have presented a local science fair project and received a letter of recommendation from a science, technology, engineering, or math Policy Panel teacher to become Sigma Xi explorers. Sigma Xi explorers may form Sigma Xi explorer clubs, to be mentored and led by members of a Sigma Xi chapter in compliance with local school jurisdiction policies. Sigma Xi explorers will be affiliated with a local Sigma Xi chapter that is in good standing where possible in person or virtually. Delegates also voted to allow the Assembly of Delegates to be convened every other year if warranted at the Board of Directors’ discretion, instead of every year per the current policy. 

The agenda included professional development sessions on critical issues in research such as science communication, science policy, diversity, mentorship, entrepreneurship, and careers in science. 

Matt Ford Jan Achenbach

Participants heard keynote lectures from Sigma Xi’s 2016 award winners, including the first Gold Key Award recipient, Norman Augustine, the former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation. A new component was the STEM Mixer, a dedicated networking session. 

Approximately 115 students presented research posters in the Student Research Conference. Top presenters in each research area within the high school, undergraduate, and graduate divisions were awarded a medal, a $130 prize in honor of Sigma Xi’s 130th year, and nominations to join Sigma Xi with their first year of membership dues provided by the Society. 

Student with Akhlesh Lakhtakia

All presenting students received nominations to join Sigma Xi, and induction ceremonies were held for 18 students. The District of Columbia Chapter continued its tradition of sponsoring the Student Choice Awards. The first place $200 award went to Amara Thind of University of California, Irvine. John Nemeth selected Shambhavi Badi, a high school student from Plano East Senior High School in Plano, Texas, for his Executive Director’s Special Award for her excellent science and science communication skills. 

Photo captions

Meli'sa Crawford

1st photo: Delegate for the SUNY at Purchase Chapter Susan Letcher, Membership-at-Large Director Vijay Kowtha, and Chair of the Committee on Qualifications and Membership Emma Perry at the Annual Meeting.

2nd photo: From left: Asegun Henry of Georgia Institute of Technology, Mohammad Khan at Emory University School of Medicine, Brion Bob with the U.S. Department of Energy, Suzanne Ffolkes with Research!America, Lisa C. Richardson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Randall Guensler of Georgia Institute of Technology were the panelists for a session on how policy decisions made at the federal level affect scientists. 

3rd photo: Jan Achenbach of Northwestern University, on right, selected Matt Ford, a Northwestern PhD student, to share $10,000 that comes with Achenbach’s Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement. Each received $5,000. Ford’s money comes in the form of a Grant-in-Aid of Research.

4th photo: Adam Kunesh, an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses his research poster with Walston Chubb Award for Innovation winner Akhlesh Lakhtakia of Pennsylvania State University. Both have done research involving nanotechnology. 

5th photo: Meli’sa Crawford, a graduate student from Arizona State University, presented a research poster during the Student Research Conference about her study on changes in male rats’ intestinal microbiota induced by high fat diets.

Photos by Robb Cohen Photography & Video and Cristina Gouin-Paul. 

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. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety