Sigma Xi Chapter Helps Students Become Researchers

February 17, 2020

After reactivating the Sigma Xi chapter at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, undergraduate students are focusing on two programs to help other students become better prepared for research careers.

“Our goal is to bring curious students into the world of scientific research, to instill honorable research values in them, help them build the fundamental skills needed to be a great researcher, and support them in future research endeavors,” chapter leaders Zipei “Shirley” Liang, Alexandra Spak, and Hannah Carrow wrote.

In September 2019, their Research Immerse Program placed 16 freshmen and sophomore Northeastern students into seven groups, based on topics the students cared about. Each group met every other week for workshops, assignments, and advice from a chapter associate member, who mentored the groups. Having practiced reading scientific papers, thinking critically, and synthesizing ideas, they will write a literature review or systematic review that they will turn into a poster and present at a university expo in April.

The chapter’s Think Like a Scientist! program kicked off in January to encourage students in grades 4–6 to pursue interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Three chapter executive board members developed the curriculum and built relationships with after-school sites. A grant from the university’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships paid for supplies such as lab notebooks. The chapter trained associate members and other undergraduate students as mentors.

During meetings with students throughout the spring, these mentors will talk about real-life scientists that represent different career paths and diversity in STEM and give a short lesson that relates to real-world applications; the students will complete a hands-on activity or design challenge in small groups. The chapter expects the Think Like a Scientist! program to reach up to 24 grade-school students in its first semester.

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