Find Your Next Adventure

June 17, 2019

Boat returning to the shipSigma Xi member Mary Ellen Close of Salem, Wisconsin, has watched eclipses with astronomers, slept on a Trans-Siberian Railway train, and seen a wild hippo along the Nile, all through Sigma Xi Expeditions. Managed by Betchart Expeditions, this program offers members unique vacations led by naturalists, archaeologists, anthropologists, social scientists, or local residents.

Once Close traveled with her father, another Sigma Xi member who was in his 80s at the time, to circumnavigate Iceland on a small ship. She and her dad made many special memories on that trip, including viewing nesting seabirds.

“My 80-something-year-old father would gamely put on his boots and warm coat and clamber down into a small rubber boat so we could get a close-up view,” she said.

She usually traveled in groups of 20 to 25 people during her nine expeditions. Betchart arranged roommates when she traveled solo. 

“Academics probably made up the majority of travelers, but each trip had an interesting mix of people,” Close said. “While there were always some retirees, there were also younger people. Over the years I have met geologists, physicists, chemists, botanists, and others like myself who did not pursue a scientific career.” 

Jim Hansen Wild TortoiseJim Hansen of Toppenish, Washington, who has traveled on six Sigma Xi Expeditions, said his favorite trip was to the Republic of Seychelles, off the eastern coast of Africa, because of the islands’ deep blue waters splashing on white sand beaches, the peacefulness, and the local fauna. 

“I enjoy traveling with Sigma Xi Expeditions because they emphasize the exceptional natural histories and cultural attributes of the locations visited,” Hansen said. “I plan to participate in more expeditions as they become available.”

Visit to see upcoming destinations, such as Morocco, Japan, and the Galápagos Islands. 

More Photos from Mary Ellen Close

Hippo in the river on Uganda trip

lemur on head

More Photos from Jim Hansen



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