Sigma Xi Chapters Awarded Grants to Develop Diversity and Educational Programs

April 30, 2020

Media Contact:
Heather Thorstensen
Manager of Communications
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society or (919) 549-4691 ext. 216

microscopeRESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC—Three Sigma Xi chapters have received grants to carry out Sigma Xi’s mission to enhance the health of the research enterprise in their local communities.

Some Sigma Xi chapters are based at colleges or universities, while others are organized by geographic area or non-academic laboratories. 

The grants are provided by Sigma Xi’s international headquarters. The chapters were selected by Sigma Xi’s Committee on Qualifications and Membership, which accepts applications for chapter grants by March 1 each year. 

Diversity Grants

Diversity Grants provide up to $1,000 in seed money for chapters to create innovative programs that encourage participation by individuals from underrepresented groups in science and engineering. Diversity may reflect gender, race, ethnicity, disability (mental or physical), and/or socioeconomic status. 

  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Chapter will receive $985.90 to partner with the university’s first Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Outreach (STEMO) Club to help students of color learn about STEM. The club partners with schools and a summer camp for girls so that students get access to hands-on activities, learn the scientific method, and get exposure to, and mentors from, individuals working in STEM fields. The grant will help purchase activity supplies and help the chapter recruit more diverse undergraduate student outreach volunteers in a Meet and Greet luncheon event and feature their work and stories on Instagram. The chapter will also livestream their UAB Sigma Xi lectures to STEMO students, including three speakers from underrepresented backgrounds, and feature them on Instagram. “These aims, taken together, will create sustainable representational and relational change for over 100 young students of color in our local community as they are better engaged in authentic science and activities led by people who look like them,” the chapter leaders wrote.

  • The Rockford University Chapter will receive $1,000 to pilot the Reap(d) What You Sow project, which is a partnership with the Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement that aims to build literacy and STEM skills for students in grades 3–5 at Lewis Lemon Elementary School. Last year, 88% of the school’s students were low-income. Fifteen students will participate in the program and alternate weeks in a book club and STEM workshops facilitated by Rockford University students and Sigma Xi members, with occasional visits from speakers who are local citizens or community leaders. Participants will also build a community vegetable garden for the school. The grant will cover the cost of books, STEM supplies, and gardening tools. Program goals include helping improve literacy rates, exposing students to people from the university to help them consider higher education in their future, increasing awareness of sustainability in natural and human ecosystems, and creating a space for future innovations to bloom.

Science, Math, and Engineering Education (SMEE) Grant

SMEE Grants provide up to $2,000 for chapters to fund innovative educational programs.

  • The University of Delaware Chapter will receive $2,000 to create a program, Learning with All Your Senses. Funding will be used to offer a two-day workshop for teams of teachers from eight Delaware high schools to develop curricular materials for use in their STEM classrooms. Because participating teachers will represent different subject matters such as biology, chemistry, computer science, physics, and mathematics, the workshop will build teamwork through which collaborative experiences translates to cooperation at their own school building and decreases isolation of individual teachers and siloed curricula. This project will bring together UD community members (faculty, staff, students (“Maker Mentors”), and high school teacher-partners to work on three goals that are of importance to Delaware public STEM education: (i) developing interdisciplinary collaborative teams in schools of teachers of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics to improve intra- and inter-school mutual support and to cut down the isolation of silo-ed classrooms and subjects; (ii) better serving students by integrating knowledge across subject matters and helping build connections to complex problems of the world; and, (iii) developing learning environments that engage students from historically underrepresented groups by diversifying the skill sets of learning and honoring heterogeneous talents that students bring when they are collaboratively designing solutions to complex problems.

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