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About Sigma Xi » News » An Interview with Jerry Baker

August 11, 2014

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Heather Thorstensen
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A Message from Outgoing Executive Director Jerry Baker

Jerry Baker served as Sigma Xi executive director and chief executive officer—as well as publisher of American Scientist—from 2008 through July 31, 2014. Baker has returned to academia as dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia. A new executive director is expected to be named by January. Below is a video about Dr. Baker's thoughts on his time at Sigma Xi. Following that are excerpts from the video's transcript.

What will you remember most about your time at Sigma Xi?
The induction ceremonies, the interactions that I've had with the many chapter members, the many visits that I've made to chapters and to speak with many members, and all the staff that I've got to work with these few years—that's what I'm going to remember the most.

What benefits do you see Sigma Xi giving to its members?
Sigma Xi is a public trust. It exists for the public benefit, not necessarily the benefit of the individual member directly, but I think there are ways that we can quantify the benefit to a member by participating and being a sustaining member of the operations. Because we exist for the public good, we need to stand for honesty and high integrity in research. And by bestowing upon an individual the honor of membership, we're making a statement about that individual's credentials. We're saying that this individual has been an original investigator in scientific or engineering research and we found that this individual has done so with high integrity, and that they can hold themselves up higher. I think just the designation of being a member puts a little bit more on that CV that they can be proud of. Then the rest of it, I think, is the contributions that we make as members to the welfare of society ... The warm fuzzy feeling that you can have from being able to say to someone, "yes, I'm a scientist and I've done so by holding myself higher and holding my colleagues to a higher standard"—that is truly a benefit that can be internalized, if not put in the pocketbook.

Do you plan to stay involved with Sigma Xi in the future?
I'm a life member ... I plan to get involved in a local chapter. I don't think I plan to get involved too much in the national governance issues right away but I hope to participate in some of the local chapter events because I think that's where the real value of Sigma Xi exists, is at the chapter level. Thank you very much for the opportunity to serve you and the many members of Sigma Xi these past few years.

This article was originally published in the September-October issue of Sigma Xi Today.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society is the international honor society of science and engineering. One of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world, Sigma Xi has a distinguished history of service to science and society for more than a century. Scientists and engineers, whose research spans the disciplines of science and technology, comprise the membership of the Society. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Noble Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety.

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