Who is Responsible?

October 16, 2017

Stuart CooperI would like to reflect on some of the core elements of Sigma Xi’s reason for being and what members bring to the table. The Society was formed more than a century ago as a means to celebrate accomplishments in research as well as to promote collaboration and companionship throughout the various disciplines. Sigma Xi is an honor society, meaning that peers and mentors nominate members, who must be approved for induction by a well-defined process at the local chapter level or by the Committee on Qualifications and Membership. It is expected that members will hold to the highest standards of research ethics and promote the public understanding of science and technology.

Many of these values are emphasized at Sigma Xi headquarters. An example of this involves our leadership giving voice to concerns of the scientific community in terms of the health and funding of science and technology and the need for research to underpin governmental policy issues. Our involvement in the March for Science this past April exemplified these goals. Other important goals, such as promoting public understanding of the importance of research and encouraging youth toward careers in science and engineering, are driven forward by the joint actions of our headquarters and our local chapters. Finally, after all is said and done by our organizational and local chapter leadership, it is incumbent on individual members to have a role in these endeavors.  

What does this mean? Sigma Xi members have been elected to a scientific research honor society and have assumed nontrivial responsibilities of membership in our Society. It is more than just a line on one’s resume. Foremost is a requirement that as long as one’s career has a research component that the member pursue new discoveries with the same drive and enthusiasm that brought him or her to membership in Sigma Xi. Members should also be active in nomination of the next generation of inductees and, if possible, participate in local chapter activities.  

The future workforce needs to be well populated by individuals with science and engineering skills that are applied with diligence and integrity. Get involved wherever possible in K–12 activities, whether by visiting classrooms, judging at science fairs, mentoring, or supporting excellence and innovation in precollege science teaching. Engaging with the public about the importance of research is something in which we can all participate and should be willing to do.  

Sigma Xi will continue to have a meaningful role as long as individual members are active participants in that for which we stand.

Stuart Cooper signature
Stuart L. Cooper
Sigma Xi President

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