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January 1, 2009

Sigma Xi Celebrates the National Year of Science 2009

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC "How are you celebrating?" That's the question scientists are being asked around the country. And it's the slogan for the Year of Science 2009, a year-long celebration of science and its role in society.

Initiated by the American Institute of Biological Sciences and managed by its Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), the Year of Science 2009 is beginning to catch on.

Why 2009? The year coincides with a number of important science-related anniversaries including the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. Among his other claims to fame, Lincoln founded the National Academy of Sciences and signed the Morrill Act which created the land grant system of agricultural colleges.

Sigma Xi is one of more than 250 participating organizations that have signed on to COPUS, a grassroots organization that includes universities, museums, corporations and non-profits. Organizers have allocated a specific discipline to each month, to represent the full range of scientific endeavor.

Sheri Potter, COPUS Network project manager, invited Sigma Xi to join when the coalition was just starting out. "We are very excited that Sigma Xi is part of COPUS and the Year of Science 2009," said Potter. "It has been very important to us as we build this network to remember the critical role the research science community plays in supporting public understanding of science. We are thrilled that Sigma Xi, whose membership represents such a broad range of scientists from so many corners of the country, continues to take an active role in shaping and leading the network."

Potter encourages Sigma Xi chapters and members' organizations to join COPUS and participate in the Year of Science 2009 via "hubs," loose aggregates of science-related organizations. The Sigma Xi chapter network is a thematic hub, while regional hubs cater to organizations with shared geography. Membership in COPUS is free and requires only that member organizations share its goals and vision.

Review the COPUS Web site at www.copusproject.org for more information on how you can get involved in the coalition and the Year of Science 2009. Then you'll have an answer when someone asks, "How are you celebrating?"

About Sigma Xi
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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