Distinguished Lectureships Program

Lecturer Yi LuSince 1937 Sigma Xi has presented its Distinguished Lecturers. This is an opportunity for chapters to host visits from outstanding individuals who are at the leading edge of science.

Lecturers communicate their insights and excitement to a broad range of scholars and to the community at large. Each year thousands of Sigma Xi members, students and the public have an opportunity to hear exceptional talks and to ask questions of experts. 

The Lectureship Program is supported by Sigma Xi members with additional support partnering organizations like the American Meteorological Society, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Cancer Institute.

For more information, please contact us.   

Watch online Q & A sessions with Distinguished Lecturers

The fall 2016 and spring 2017 schedule is posted on the list of upcoming events. To see past Q & A sessions, click on the links below.

2016 recorded sessions

February 4
Prehistoric Decisions Preserved in Artifacts
Distinguished Lecturer: Todd Surovell
Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Wyoming
Topics: Determining the factors that structure the archaeological record, from human decision making to site formation.

February 23
Playing Sports in Hyperbolic Space
Distinguished Lecturer: Richard Canary
Professor of Mathematics, University of Michigan
Topics: Hyperbolic sports and the geometrization of 3-dimensional spaces

March 23
The Social Organization of Innovative Scientific Groups

Distinguished Lecturer: Edward Hackett
Professor, Arizona State University 
Topics: Making science useful; peer review and the conduct of science

April 7
New Strategies to Curb Bacterial Infections
Distinguished Lecturer: Herman Sintim
Professor, Purdue University
Topics: New strategies to curb bacterial infections; the bacterial resistance problem

April 19
The Promise of 2D Materials
Distinguished Lecturer: Michael Spencer 
Professor Department of Electrical Engineering, Cornell University 
Topics: Graphene and 2D materials

May 2
Searching for the Chemical Origins of Life
Distinguished Lecturer: Nicholas Hud
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology 
Topics: Experimental Investigations of the origin and early evolution of life; a self-assembly approach to the origin of RNA

May 31
The Mathematics of Crime

Distinguished Lecturer: Andrea Bertozzi (to be confirmed)
Betsy Wood Knapp Chair for Innovation and Creativity and Professor of Mathematics, University of California at Los Angeles 
Topics: Image processing and large data analysis; swarming by nature and by design; mathematics in the real and imaginary world

June 28
When and Why Organisms Help One Another
Distinguished Lecturer: Lee Dugatkin 
Professor of Biology, University of Louisville
Topics: The evolution of goodness; when natural history and history collide

2015 recorded sessions

September 30 
Discover Exoplanets with Debra Fischer
Distinguished Lecturer: Debra Fischer
Professor of Astronomy, Yale University
Topics: How Debra Fischer discovered exoplanets; history of searching for exoplanets

October 7
Can Your iPhone Tell You What's In Your Food?
Distinguished Lecturer: Omowunmi Sadik
Professor of Chemistry and Director, Center for Advanced Sensors & Environmental Systems, State University of New York at Binghamton
Topics: Biosensors and food pathogens

October 15
How the Sun Changes Pollution Particles in the Air and Water
Distinguished Lecturer: Krishna L. Foster 
Professor of Chemistry, California State University, Los Angeles
Topics: Effects of sunlight on pollutants in air and water; role of aged particulate matter on air quality

October 29
Overcoming Barriers to Diversity in Science
Distinguished Lecturer: Sandra Hanson
Professor of Sociology, Catholic University
Topics: Barriers to diversity in science; solutions that are successfully promoting diversity; what barriers remain to be addressed

November 6
Scents and Insect Brains
Distinguished Lecturer: John Hildebrand 
Regents Professor, University of Arizona 
Topics: Insect nervous systems, particularly the neurobiology of the olfactory system, its roles in behavior, and related areas of chemical ecology and biology of disease vectors

November 16
The Science of Innovation and Deep Learning
Distinguished Lecturer: Karen Oates
Professor of Biochemistry and the Dean of Arts & Sciences, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Topics: Defining innovation; how innovation may be achieved; how professors/educators may foster atmospheres of deep learning so that students can be more innovative

December 2
The Arctic's Melting Ice
Distinguished Lecturer: Mark Serreze
Research Professor of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder; Director, National Snow and Ice Data Center
Topics: Environmental effects of a changing climate in the Arctic; implications of the loss of Arctic sea ice and how they might be addressed

December 15
Double-edged Nanoparticles: DNA Disrupters and Cancer Fighters
Distinguished Lecturer: Bryant C. Nelson 
Staff Research Chemist, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Topics: Fundamental interactions of engineered nanoparticles and nanomaterials with DNA; development of techniques to identify and quantify how such nanomaterials interact with genetic material.