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September 5, 2006

Industry and Innovation Among Themes for Sigma Xi Annual Meeting

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Industry, innovation and interdisciplinary investigation will be the focus of science sessions, award talks and poster presentations November 2-5 for the 2006 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.

The annual meeting banquet at the world famous Henry Ford Museum will give attendees special access to Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House, Heroes of the Sky and the Automobile in American Life, among other exhibits. Program details and registration are available online.

Fuller is best known for invention of the geodesic dome, but his Dymaxion House (which combines three of his favorite words: “dynamic,” “maximum” and “tension”) is a further example of what he called Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science. His design strategy represented his attempt to anticipate and solve humanity’s problems through technology by providing “more and more life support for everybody, with less and less resources.”

This year’s Sigma Xi meeting will also feature half a dozen cutting-edge science sessions on Saturday afternoon, when there are no other competing events or activities. All meeting and conference participants are invited to attend these sessions, which will be classroom-style presentations designed to stimulate discourse and debate.

At the annual Sigma Xi Student Research Conference, set for November 3-4, undergraduate and graduate students will present research, attend career advancement workshops and participate in mentoring and networking activities, panel discussions and other events.

Research presentations by members and talks by Sigma Xi award winners will showcase outstanding researchers and science communicators. Speakers will include Procter Prize winner Susan Lindquist, McGovern Award recipient Alan Lightman, Chubb Award winner Mark Holtzapple and W. Raphael Hix, winner of the Young Investigator Award.

Lindquist and Lightman are at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Holtzapple is at Texas A&M University. Hix is an astrophysicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Sigma Xi chapter delegates will attend educational sessions on leadership, chapter management and major issues facing the research community.

The following are among the chapter and science session topics::

Science in the Streets
Imagine neighborhood science festivals happening across the U.S. and beyond—all on the same day, at the same time! And simultaneously podcasting them! Imagine the effect this would have on getting science into our homes and into our daily lives. Such collaborations are already underway in Arizona, Florida, New York, Nigeria and elsewhere. Communities around the world are participating in a unique venture to celebrate science and society, and to bring the two closer together. Musicians, directors and other artists are also joining this initiative to unite people and engage them with science in a way that’s informative and fun.

Sigma Xi Science Cafés
Science cafés bring together scientists and members of the public in accessible venues, putting them on equal footing to discuss current scientific research, its findings, context, caveats and implications. Sigma Xi chapters continue to lead the science café movement. Through its Public Understanding of Science program, the Society has partnered with public television station WGBH in Boston to foster networking and collaboration among local café organizers. This session will serve as a how-to guide for establishing successful cafés.

Investigating Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults. Four-fifths of marines and sailors returning from Iraq suffer from some form of TBI. Such dreadful statistics have galvanized multiple investigators to study TBI, combining a broad range of disciplines. Aftercare managers borrow ideas from anthropology to improve their methods, whereas therapists look to psychology to ameliorate cognitive deficit following injury. Biomechanical engineers are developing devices and structures that effectively protect the brain from TBI. This session will span multidisciplinary research in developing better therapies and aftercare.

Advancing Cancer Research
Advances in diagnostics, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy have improved cancer outcomes for many forms of the disease. Yet, cancer remains the second leading killer in the western world. Mortality rates for some cancer types have declined but overall survival has barely increased. The National Cancer Institute is speeding research progress by encouraging development of innovative technologies and by promoting interdisciplinary scientific collaborations with the private sector. Some key programs include Nanotechnology, Genomics, Proteomics, Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies and Small Business Innovation Research. This session provides an open forum to discuss the prospects for innovations that will shape the future course of cancer detection and treatment.


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