Sigma Xi CEO John Nemeth Sends Letter of Concern to the White House Over Federal Communications Restrictions

January 26, 2017

For Immediate Release

Jamie Vernon
Director of Science Communications and Publications
Editor-in-Chief of American Scientist
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society or 800-243-6534 ext. 223

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. ― Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society Executive Director and CEO John Nemeth today sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump to offer the Society’s research expertise. The letter also raises a concern over reports that restrictions have been placed on the public and media relations departments at federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health. The letter calls on President Trump to consider quickly removing these restrictions.

The concern, writes Nemeth, is that the restrictions might disrupt the process of the public receiving information from federal agencies, including information related to scientific research.

“Sigma Xi traditionally reaches out to every new administration to offer the scientific research support available from our 110,000-member Society,” said Nemeth. “I want to be clear that the nation's research enterprise is our priority. We want to assist President Trump and his administration and continue to be strong partners with the thousands of researchers employed in the U. S. government. The apparent move to inhibit the free flow of evidence-based information to and from government researchers is a major concern of Sigma Xi and all researchers everywhere.”

News outlets reported this week that the Trump administration has made restrictions, or recommendations against, federal agencies releasing information through press releases, speaking engagements, social media posts, and other communication tools until further notice. A group claiming to be U.S. National Park Service employees, calling themselves the “resistance” team, started posting on their own Twitter account. Additionally, a series of posts about climate change by the Badlands National Park’s Twitter account was deleted. It was not clear why the posts were removed.

Sigma Xi has a mission of fostering integrity in research and promoting the public understanding of science. Nemeth is the publisher of the Society’s magazine, American Scientist, which features articles by researchers and science communicators about all areas of science, engineering, math, and technology. 

Additionally, Sigma Xi joined with 28 other research organizations in November to request a meeting with Trump’s transition team to suggest candidates to populate science and technology posts in his administration. Sigma Xi is calling for nominations for these posts from its membership.

“We are helping to inform and empower our membership to actively reach out to the public, and they are. And, we are seeking strong, accomplished researchers to fill positions throughout the administration and government at large,” said Nemeth.

Related Reading: John Nemeth's letter to President Trump 

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