Sigma Xi Hosts Symposium on Climate Change and Student Research Conference

November 15, 2017

The climate is changing, but how are those changes affecting people’s health and the environment? Sigma Xi invited its members and the public to the Symposium on Atmospheric Chemistry, Climate, and Health on November 10 at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, to learn about this topic. 

Sympospium SpeakersFive researchers discussed previous policies that led to climate successes, potential paths forward to address climate change today, the impact of society’s current energy decisions on generations to come, the controversies surrounding air pollution and health, and how the environment influences disease outbreaks. The symposium included two public events: a town hall session where attendees asked a panel questions related to climate change, and a screening and scientific critique of the documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Sigma Xi President Stuart Cooper proposed the idea of this symposium in part because solving issues related to climate change will draw on multiple research disciplines, which aligns with the Society’s multidisciplinary membership. 

“As a chemical engineer and researcher,” he said, “I could see the relevance of this theme to a broad swath of our membership and to society at large.” 

The climate change theme continued the next day with the 17th Annual Student Research Conference. Local meteorologist for WRAL and Sigma Xi member Greg Fishel delivered the keynote address, discussing how he came to understand the science behind climate change. 

UNC studentsApproximately 135 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students representing 56 institutions from 19 states plus Washington, DC, attended the conference. Students competed for poster presentation awards, and 26 students were named top presenters. These winners received a $150 cash prize and a medal. Additionally, top presenters who were not already Sigma Xi members were inducted into the Society with their first year of membership dues waived. Fifteen top presenters were already Sigma Xi members and received an extended year of membership dues. All other primary presenters who participated in the conference received nominations for associate membership in the Society. 

The District of Columbia Chapter sponsored the Student Choice Awards, which were given to three presenters voted by their peers as having the top presentations. The first place winner received $200 and a tie for second place had the winners each receiving $100. The conference also included sessions on best practices to communicate science, how scientists can prepare to talk with policymakers, how to use social media to promote science, and how high school students can take steps toward publishing their research. 

Save the Date 

Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference
October 25–28, 2018
Hyatt Regency
Burlingame, California

Photo captions

Top photo: Speakers for the Symposium on Atmospheric Chemistry, Climate, and Health included, from left, A. R. Ravishankara of Colorado State University, Barbara Finlayson-Pitts of University of California, Irvine, Jeffrey Shaman of Columbia University, and C. Arden Pope III of Brigham Young University. 

Bottom photo: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill undergraduate students, from  left, Kasey Norton, Maebelle Mathew, and Cherrel Manley presented posters in the human behavioral and social sciences category during the Student Research Conference. 

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