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June 5, 2008

Sigma Xi Lectureships Gain New Support and Café Dimension

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Sigma Xi's Distinguished Lectureships Program, begun in 1937, continues to gain support and to branch out in new directions after more than 70 years. Each year, the program offers Sigma Xi chapters a chance to host visits by researchers who are at the forefront of science and technology.

Recent developments include a bequest from the late Calvin A. Lang (SX 1952) and a new affiliation with public television station WGBH in support of the Science Café movement.

A biochemistry professor at the University of Louisville, Lang developed the mosquito as a unique laboratory organism for biochemical studies of growth and aging. A longtime Sigma Xi supporter, he was president of the Louisville Chapter in 1975 and twice served as a Distinguished Lecturer.

He and his wife, Helen, established a named Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research. Recently, the Society learned of his bequest of about $50,000 for the Lectureships Program.

The Lectureships Program is funded by membership dues, with additional sponsorship from the American Meteorological Society, the National Academy of Engineering and the Society for Risk Analysis.

WGBH in Boston recently joined the list of sponsors. The first WGBH-Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer will be neurobiologist Matthew A. Wilson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Thanks to support from WGBH, Sigma Xi will offer a limited number of grants to Sigma Xi chapters to assist in holding a Science Café with Wilson as the featured speaker.

Since 2002, Sigma Xi and WGBH have been partners in promoting these informal gatherings at restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, where scientists and engineers share their research with members of the public. Last year, the WGBH Educational Foundation, in association with Sigma Xi, launched sciencecafes.org as a comprehensive resource for café organizers and participants.

Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is the international honor society for research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters in North America and around the world. Membership is by invitation. Over the years, more than 200 Sigma Xi members have received the Nobel Prize. In addition to publishing American Scientist magazine, the non-profit Society awards hundred of grants annually to student researchers and sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering.


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