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Organizational Spotlight

Society Spotlight: Sigma Xi

February 2020

What is Sigma Xi? Sigma Xi is a non-profit honor society for scientists and engineers. This organization focuses on bringing together a multi-disciplinary community to promote science and scientific outreach in the next generation. To do this, this organization hosts an annual, large-scale conference across many disciplines, while also promoting student research. They also provide several small research grants for undergraduate and graduate students as well as foster small working groups to tackle difficult issues in the science community such as ethics, food safety, and energy use.

What benefits do members receive for joining Sigma Xi? Well, first of all, you’d be in very good company! Over 200 members of Sigma Xi have been awarded the Nobel Prize, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and Linus Pauling. In addition, there are over 500 chapters, which makes connecting with researchers outside of “your circle” easier, especially because this society is not constrained to one group (like biology or mechanical engineering). These chapters often offer small grants or other types of aid. Sigma Xi itself also offers small research grants for graduate and undergraduate students biannually. While you do not need to be a member to receive these awards, members are considered a higher priority.

Sigma Xi also hosts a massive conference every year. This is a great opportunity—especially for undergraduate and graduate students—as the society tries to highlight student research. Not only this, but it is a refreshing change to attend talks outside of your field, which isn’t the case at many society meetings. While non-members are allowed to attend and present, members receive a discounted rate.

In addition, Sigma Xi members receive a discount when subscribing to AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). Sigma Xi also offers a career center and science communication coaching for members. There are numerous opportunities to volunteer within and outside of the society. Sigma Xi runs numerous publications, including those in print and online, as well as peer-reviewed articles and newsletters.

Sigma Xi in Review. I found this organization to be especially unique as a graduate student. Small research grants are always in need, and the reliability of their cycle was much appreciated. In addition, I found there was something distinctive to such a cross-disciplinary society. Most of the other societies I belonged to as a graduate student had a much narrower focus, all centered around one specific idea in biology. It was very refreshing (and often inspiring) to be able to be in the same space (and society) as chemists, engineers, and numerous others. Finally, while my university had a decent outreach program, I think the opportunities to volunteer and great. Moreover, the science communication workshops are a great resource, especially for students and young professionals in programs that may not have a previously established outreach program.

Learn more about Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Honor Society


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