Sigma Xi Speaks: July 2016

by Heather Thorstensen | Jul 19, 2016

Moving the Needle on Research

This is a guest post written by Sigma Xi Executive Director and CEO John Nemeth.


John NemethA poll conducted earlier this year by Research!America found that only 17 percent of Americans could name a living scientist. We, as Sigma Xi members, can and should help move the needle in a more positive direction.

This month, I encourage you to contact your friends, civic clubs, colleagues, and elected officials―all your non-scientist relationships―to let them know that you are a researcher and invite them to come to you and Sigma Xi when they have a question about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). If you’re on social media, spread the news using #AskAScientist.

Putting that invitation out there is an important way that we can engage with our communities and help our neighbors put a face to research. It also opens the door to helping people trust in research results. That way, they can come to understand our work and know that research is a requirement for the wellbeing of humanity.

Trust is a key issue here. Our societies need research to be used in the process of making public and private policies. In order to make that happen, research needs to already have a place at the table. The way we get there is by building relationships now.

An example of what I’m asking of you might be to volunteer to give a presentation at your Lions Club or respond to a question on Facebook. I knew someone for 10 years before she realized I was a scientist, and then she started asking me questions. And you know what? It was fun to answer them. Perhaps by sharing your knowledge you will inspire a student to pursue a STEM career or help someone understand our world a little bit better.

Don’t forget to encourage those you know to subscribe to Sigma Xi SmartBrief so they can get a free email regularly about research news. Sigma Xi also has Google Hangouts featuring distinguished researchers sharing their work, and we invite the public to participate in the live broadcasts or to watch the recordings.

I’d like to hear the questions you receive from your community. Let me know at


John Nemeth Signature

John C. Nemeth, PhD
Sigma Xi Executive Director, CEO, and Publisher of American Scientist

Sigma Xi Speaks is a monthly series of articles that connect research and policy. Find past articles on Sigma Xi’s blog, Keyed In.

comments powered by Disqus

Blog Categories