Fueling the Future of Science in Long Beach

by Marija Strojnik | Feb 27, 2024


Sigma Xi is a multidisciplinary scientific research honor society that champions the principles of ethical scientific research and calls on members to introduce future scientists to the responsibilities incumbent in this essential work. One of Sigma Xi’s strategic goals has always been the advancement of STEM appreciation and education, from grade school through graduate school. 

Sigma Xi leadership believes that the annual International Forum on Research Excellence (IFoRE) is an excellent place to address this goal. The 2023 IFoRE conference was held in Long Beach, California, with about 300 students participating. Most of them presented research, either in oral or poster form. About 170 professionals also presented research, led workshops, participated in panel discussions, and took part in mentoring and judging. Many attendees and volunteers expressed that this was the best Sigma Xi conference they had ever attended. It was also the Society’s best-attended in-person conference in the past 10 years. 

Because a large number of Sigma Xi members represent biological and chemical disciplines, many IFoRE presentations focused on research in those areas. The popularity of these fields means that today’s high school students should have an easy time finding laboratories at nearby universities where important genetic and biological research needs helping hands, and where their curiosity and youthful drive can be put to work. 

In my experience, STEM youngsters have an ambitious and novel way of looking at global problems. As we continue to deal with major concerns like pandemics and global warming, the next generation of scientists wants to change the world by doing applied research that leads directly to improved conditions for all humankind.

Jim Sullivan, executive director of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, presented on global warming, sea level rise, and climate change in his keynote session, “Florida’s Ecological Crises and How They May Inform Our Future.” Dr. Sullivan put in perspective the importance of the welfare of our oceans to our own well-being and survival. He also outlined how academia, government, and the public can interact to keep oceans—and specifically low-lying Floridian marshes—clean and healthy. There was an important note of hope in his message: Florida is succeeding in restoring its oceans to their primordial status as a giver and preserver of life. 

With Sigma-Xi keynote lectures, our young scientists were given the knowledge, tools, and motivation necessary to develop advanced civic skills to introduce scientific input as an additional guiding influence to preserve our home planet.

Marija Strojnik, PhD
Sigma Xi President

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