Mercer University’s Sigma Xi Named Chapter of Excellence


MACON – Mercer University's chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, has been named a Sigma Xi Chapter of Excellence for 2013, recognition that is bestowed to only the top two to three percent of its 520 chapters in North America and around the world.

The Sigma Xi Chapter of Excellence award salutes exceptional chapter activity, innovative programming and true community of leadership which embodies the organization's mission: “To improve the human condition by enhancing the health of the research enterprise, fostering integrity in science and engineering, and promoting the public's understanding of science.”

“This award for our chapter's exceptional activity, innovative programming and true community leadership reflects the contributions of many of our chapter's members,” said Dr. Philip T. McCreanor, associate professor of environmental engineering and president of the University's chapter of Sigma Xi.

Among those contributions, Dr. Kevin Drace, assistant professor of biology in the College of Liberal Arts, organized and conducted the first Science Café, which was titled “The Science of Gold,” at Francar's Buffalo Wings in the spring of 2013. Dr. Drace also coordinated the second Science Café, “The Science of Beer,” at Francar's in the fall of 2013.

Dr. Daniel Hagan, professor of anesthesiology in the School of Medicine, coordinated a visit by Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer Professor Robert Clarke, who delivered a lecture, titled “What Can We Learn about Breast Cancer by Combining Mathematics and Computer Science in a Systems Biology Approach to Research?” in the fall of 2013.

Bryan Danley, mechanical engineering student and president of the Student Executive Committee of the University's chapter of Sigma Xi, spearheaded a successful effort to become recognized by the Student Government Association as a student organization. The chapter also finished as one of the top 15 nominating Sigma Xi chapters in 2013.

“Much of this is due to the efforts we have been putting into nominating our student researchers.Dr. Katharine Northcutt, assistant professor of biology in the College of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Andon Placzek, assistant professor of neuroscience in the School of Medicine, are the vice presidents for their respective colleges, and have done a great job of identifying worthy student researchers. Special thanks should also go to the faculty advisers of our student researchers and the organizers of Bear Day and the Engineering Expo, the venues of publication for many of our nominees. Without their efforts, we would not be able to grow the student side of our organization,” said Dr. McCreanor.

“We are looking forward to an exciting 2014. Dr. Drace has been working on coordinating a third Science Café, titled 'The Science of Scent,' for the spring semester, and we anticipate a visit in March from Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer Professor Theodore Goodson from the University of Michigan's Chemistry Department. Dr. Goodson will be delivering presentations on his work with using organics in the fields of energy storage and quantum sensing.”

Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is a non-profit, member-based association of tens of thousands of scientists and engineers who are elected to membership because of their scientific research achievements. Chapters can be found in universities and colleges, government laboratories and commercial industry research centers.

Through both local and national events, Sigma Xi funds research grants and programming that promote honorable and ethical conduct in scientific research, strong science education and sound science policy.

“The diverse and robust activities of Sigma Xi chapters make a true impact at the community level by further bolstering the importance and need for excellence in research science and engineering,” said Cristina C. Gouin-Paul, chair of Sigma Xi's Committee on Qualifications and Membership, via an official release. “The Sigma Xi Chapter of Excellence awarded to your chapter signifies a distinguished contribution toward this endeavor.”

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​