I was asked to share this statement to you all by President-elect nominee Kathy Lu. I hope this helps as you decide your vote.
Dear Sigma Xi fellow members:
It is my great honor to have this opportunity and share with you my vision and plan for Sigma Xi. I am running for President-Elect because I care deeply about our society. I am eager to contribute my time and knowledge to make Sigma Xi stronger.
I became a Sigma Xi member when I was a graduate student about 24 years ago. Since then, I have worked both in industry and in academy. I have been a professor in Materials at Virginia Tech for 19 years. Currently I am the Director of AI-guided materials thrust in our College of Engineering. Besides being elected as the Fellow of two professional societies, I have also had year-long executive leadership training. This provides me a great combination of scientific knowledge and leadership skills to serve Sigma Xi.
My past involvement and responsibilities in Sigma Xi have also given me the experience and knowledge to address many of the challenges. I served on the Sigma Xi Executive Committee; collectively we made the headquarter relocation site decision. I actively participated in the Society’s activities, such as the Hall of Honor Nobel Laureate Induction Ceremony, and gained an understanding of the opportunities and challenges that our Society faces, such as social media opportunities and active membership drop challenges. In addition, I am the Director of the Research and Doctoral Universities Group and a Member of the Committee on Awards. These experiences prepared me well to serve as Sigma Xi President-Elect.
Our society’s mission is to promote ethics and excellence in scientific research. Sigma Xi has worked hard to promote science through Grant-In-Aid of Research and Distinguished Lectureships. We have at least 10 award categories to recognize outstanding scientists. Sigma Xi has also established different partnerships, such as with the American Junior Academy of Sciences. But more needs to be done. We must continue to be a strong voice for science through creative programs and effective actions.
If elected as President-Elect, I will work hard to improve Sigma Xi’s profile and influence, in the U.S. and around the world. My goal is to make Sigma Xi the science society that every other society looks up to. I will strategically seek out peer societies for collaboration.
Sigma Xi needs to attract young people and new members. We need to connect with the brilliant minds of the future. We need to mobilize our current members for new nominations. Many of our members join Sigma Xi in their college studies. We are most likely to lose these active members after they leave a campus. Considering that at least 60% of doctorate recipients in the U.S. work outside academy, we need to increase our engagement away from college campuses. Our members in industry, non-profits, and research labs can provide strong mentorship to our new members. They can also offer directions and guide our members in professional growth. We must engage industry, research organizations, and non-profits to broaden our community.
If elected as President-Elect, I will help to foster greater engagement in our community, such as establishing Sigma Xi ambassador programs and chapter mentoring programs across the country. The power of retaining and motivating members lies in local chapters. We must creatively work with local chapters to keep expanding our membership pool. Sigma Xi initiatives and materials developed by exemplary chapters should be distributed throughout the Society. We need to fully use social media for member engagement and science advocacy. We also need to develop new members internationally. This means growing our international chapters, hosting our conferences overseas, etc.
Sigma Xi started in 1886 to join hearts and hands and form a brotherhood in science. In today’s world, we need to broaden this outlook and form brotherhood and sisterhood of all races, ethnicities, genders, and religions. We should also reach out to different professional societies, such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, to build a robust, diverse, and inclusive community.
Science offers solutions to world problems. And the public needs to put science to use. Sigma Xi has the best talents, networks, and experiences to improve public understanding of science. We need to work with K-12 schools in STEM outreach. We also need to build partnerships with museums and community groups in promoting science education.
Last but not least, if elected as President-Elect, I will actively engage in fundraising. I will work with funding agencies and foundations, develop philanthropic initiatives, re-engage existing members, and establish new membership drives.
Together, we make our Society strong! I look forward to working with you all. Again, this is Kathy Lu and I love to have your vote for the President-Elect opportunity.