Virtual Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference Discussed Science-Art Collaborations

November 11, 2020

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 Walter E. Massey was presented with the Gold Key Award on November 7. He was joined by Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne and NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca.

Media Contact:
Amia’ Butler
Manager of Communications
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society

Sigma Xi members, researchers, artists, and students came together virtually November 5–8 for the 2020 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference. The theme of this year’s meeting was Hacking the Brain: The Intersection Between Art and Neuroscience. The conference was attended by over 800 research professionals, students, and exhibitors. 

The event began with a business meeting for delegates, who represented Sigma Xi chapters and the Membership-at-Large constituency. The 134-year-old honor society for scientists and engineers has chapters around the world at colleges, universities, government laboratories, industry research centers, and areas that cover multiple institutions. Sigma Xi leaders and president-elect candidates provided updates and discussed business of the Society. Chapter awards recipients for 2019-2020 were announced at the Assembly of Delegates. 

Plenary speakers included Sigma Xi’s 2020 Gold Key award winner Walter E. Massey, who reflected on his career and addressed social justice and diversity in STEM. His remarks were followed by a discussion with Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne and NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca. Additional plenary speakers included all but one of Sigma Xi’s 2020 award winners

Keynote sessions included Dick and Lydia Todd Professor of Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University Barbara Landau who discussed “When an Amnesic Artist Remembers”, Rachael Cusick who discussed “Radiolab Presents: G,” Radiolab's 2019 documentary series on intelligence that had her diving into the search for genius,  University of Pennsylvania’s Anjan Chatterjee who argued that our brains respond automatically to our aesthetic environment and  Larry S. Sherman, Oregon Health & Science University, who discussed why “Every Brain Needs Music.”

Breakout sessions included talks, panel discussions, and workshops across six conference tracks.  The conference entertainment was provided by world-renowned Science Rapper Baba Brinkman, who performed a series of freestyle rap sets and ‘rap ups’ that summarized events throughout the day.  .

Approximately 400 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students attended the meeting and presented their research during the Student Research Conference. Sigma Xi members judged the students on their scientific thought, method, and communication skills. Judges selected top presenters for awards including a $150.00 monetary gift and nomination to Sigma Xi membership, with the initiation fee and first year’s dues paid.


 Top student presenters in the Sigma Xi Virtual Student Research Conference

Top Student Presenters in the 2020 Student Research Conference

High School Division Awards for Poster Presentations

Agricultural, Soil and Natural Resources
Rachel Mammen, Plano West Senior High School

Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Abdul Jalil-Dania, American Heritage School Plantation

Anjali Vadlamudi, American Heritage School Boca Delray

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Sreeram Satish, Sai Manikonda, William P. Clements High School, John F. Dulles High School

Jennifer Lew, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School

Environmental Sciences
Falecie Wang, Palo Alto Senior High School

Brian Chen, The Harker School

Human Behavioral and Social Sciences
Mandy Feuerman, American Heritage School Boca Delray

Interdisciplinary Research
Akshra Paimagam, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

Math and Computer Science
Siya Goel, West Lafayette Jr. Sr. High School

Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Mary Gabrielle, Pine Crest School

Physics and Astronomy
Francicso Catanzaro, Cathedral Catholic High School

Physiology and Immunology
Jordan Umlas, Miami Beach Senior High

Undergraduate Division Awards

Agricultural, Soil and Natural Resources
Joseph Lance Casila, University of Guam

Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Kelsey Salcido, University of California, Irvine

Joe Gonzales, University of California, Irvine

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Tie)
Griffin Bray, University of Michigan-Dearborn
JoAnne Villagrana, University of California, Irvine

Radhika Bhuckory, University of Southern California

Environmental Sciences (Tie)
Alyza Roman, University of California, Irvine
Sonja Michaluk, Carnegie Mellon University

Emma Casale, Quinnipiac University

Human Behavioral and Social Sciences
Aaron Cecil-Xavier, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Interdisciplinary Research
MaryBrigid McManus, Molloy College

Math and Computer Science
Bikrant Das Sharma, Rice University

Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Brian Best, Northeastern University

Physics and Astronomy
Anne Williams, Elon University

Physiology and Immunology
Leslie Vazquez, Jr., University of California, Irvine

Graduate Division Awards

Agriculture, Soil, and Natural Resources
Debit Datta, Auburn University

Charlotte Till, University of Arizona

Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Suraj Timilsina, Oakland University

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Tie)
Kris Budd, University of Missouri
Gladys Mondragon, University of Minnesota

Richard Hollenbach III, Duke University

Environmental Sciences
Parisa Ebrahimbabaie, Ball State University

Human Behavioral and Social Sciences
Kennedy Anderson, Texas State University

Interdisciplinary Research
Khrystyna Shchubelka, Oakland University

Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Victoria Oladosu, Binghamton University, State University of New York

Physiology and Immunology
Madison Honer, Saint Joseph's University

Awards for Top Oral Presentations

High School Division 

Jessie Gan, San Diego Jewish Academy

Honorable Mention High School Division

Fiona Luo, Monta Vista High School
Kieran Dunn, Boston College High School 

Undergraduate Division

Mohammad Elahi, University of Texas at Dallas

Honorable Mention Undergraduate Division

Phuc (Jerry) Ngo, Beloit College

Graduate Division (Tie)

Tendai Mafireyi, Portland State University
Matthew Kocher, Virginia Tech

Student Choice Award

First place
Rupali Batta, Notre Dame High School

Second place
Savanah Lares, American Heritage School Plantation

Save the date for the 2021 Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference on November 4-7 in Niagara Falls, New York.

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