Mercer SGA recently gave approval to a somewhat new organization called Sigma Xi, a scientific research society.
Steven Hussung, student vice president of the organization, said that there has been a Sigma Xi organization for Mercer University faculty for quite some time. However, the addition of a student organization is new.
Sigma Xi “functions as kind of an honors organization for students who’ve performed research and presented research,” said Hussung. Hussung said students who have presented research in an open forum are eligible to join Sigma Xi.
As of induction in the fall, the organization has around 70 members.
Aside from supporting the scientific research of students and faculty, the goal of Sigma Xi is to present research to the public and connect people with the scientific community in a way that is accessible and easy to understand.
One of the ways Mercer’s Sigma Xi chapter did this was through a science café at Francar’s on Wednesday, April 17. Sigma Xi partnered with Mu Phi Epsilon, who provided live music, to organize the event.
“The idea is that since formal scientific presentations don’t work for everybody, you can have a meeting in a coffee shop or a restaurant,” said Hussung. “And you can have a very informal presentation of some sort on science.”
The presentation at Francar’s included a trivia game based off of Dr. Kevin Drace’s research on gold. Hussung said people from outside Mercer’s science program not only attended, but enjoyed and understood the presentation as well.
“Carl over at Francar’s asked if he could invite a group of 8th graders, and Dr. Drace said ‘sure,’” Hussung said. “He presented at a level which would have been fine with that.”
Sigma Xi thought the science café was informative and successful, and they received many good reviews about it.
Sigma Xi has also brought speakers to campus who have lectured on a variety of scientific subjects.
Hussung said that this type of accessibility will enhance student life at Mercer because, whether they are science students or not, students have the ability to learn about new topics through events hosted by Sigma Xi.
Hussung thinks Sigma Xi will also enhance the academic atmosphere at Mercer.
“Mercer is a small school, and one of the problems with being a small school is sometimes, especially in the sciences, you end up lacking research,” said Hussung.
“I think one of the ways Mercer can address that is intentionally creating a research community … and when students do research you want to celebrate that and support them in that,” he said. Hussung said that Sigma Xi facilitates that research community.
Sigma Xi helps Hussung, who did research last summer, and other students who are interested in scientific research by giving them a way to advertise presentations and putting them in contact with others who have done research.
Sigma Xi has no regular meetings, however they have a Facebook group where they advertise events.
Students interested in Sigma Xi can check out the Facebook group or email Bryan Danley at [email protected]