Sigma Xi 2020 President-Elect Candidate Town Hall

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Sigma Xi 2020 President-Elect Candidate Town Hall

– Good afternoon and welcome Jamie Vernon, executive director and CEO for Sigma Xi and publisher of American Scientist magazine Thank you all for being here for this momentous occasion, Sigma Xi’s first ever presidential town hall Where members can meet the president-elect candidates for our November election I’d like to take a moment to wish you all well during these extraordinary times We at Sigma Xi recognize that the research community is facing some unique challenges And we want you to know that we are here to support you and help you navigate the uncertainty about the future One way we can do that is to focus on the opportunities that exist as we go forward, including the selection of a leader for this great organization who can guide us to success in achieving our mission Before we get started, I’d like to review a few details and general instructions for participation in today’s event The event is being recorded The audience will be muted and will remain so, unless they have questions for the candidates Over the past few days, Sigmas Xi has collected questions for the candidates from its members and those questions will be answered first then the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions during the second part of the Q&A You will have two options to submit questions Dr. Eman Ghanem, Sigma Xi’s director of programs, membership and Chapters will facilitate the audience questions through monitoring the raise hand and Q&A features And questions will be recognized in the order received in the queue Option one is for persons wanting to ask questions verbally, please use the raise hand feature You will be unmuted by the facilitator and invited to ask your question Please speak clearly when asking your question and we request that you state your name, affiliation the candidate for whom the question is directed and then pose your question Option two is for submitting written questions Please use the Q&A feature and write your name, affiliation, the candidate for whom the question is directed and pose the question The moderator again will read the question in the order received in the queue Persons with the follow-up question and some of you may have a follow-up question should follow the same instructions listed above Follow-up questions will be answered in the order received in the queue When asking the question, please indicate that your question is a follow-up and to whom the question is directed I hope you all got those directions We will repeat some of them as we before we ask the questions to the candidates But for now, I’m honored now to introduce our moderator, Dr. Linda Meadows, she is an inaugural Sigmas Xi fellow this year and has been a bright light and noble voice for scientific research in many venues during an unparalleled service progression as Chapter president, region director, society president from 2013-14 and executive director of Sigma Xi Welcome Dr. Meadows – Thank you Jamie Good afternoon and welcome everyone It is my pleasure to moderate today’s special event which I am commemorating by wearing my Sigma Xi blouse Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Society Yay! As Jamie explained over the past few days, Sigma Xi has collected questions from its members Those questions have been reviewed by each candidate and they will have one minute each to answer After those questions have been answered by both candidates we will invite the audience to ask questions Each candidate will also be given one minute to answer those questions as well We will try to present all questions, time permitting And now I’d like to introduce our distinguished candidates who will each have up to one minute to provide opening remarks A signal will indicate 10 seconds remain to let each candidate know their minutes is almost up So please join me in welcoming Richard Boudreault, a member of the Sigma Xi, McGill Chapter and director of the Canadian International Constituency group He is a professor at the Polytechnique university, Montreal, visiting professor at McGill and CEO and chairman of Dymedso A company that has been heralded for its pioneering use of acoustics to treat patients with airway clearance diseases including COVID Richard has been a member of Sigma Xi since 2006 Richard

– Hello, I’m very happy to be able to meet you today and speak with you so do not be afraid of asking questions If they’re too hard I’ll get Jamie to answer them or even Nicholas But I’m not your usual candidate That’s the first statement I should put, the first time they I’m an entrepreneur I’ve been working in STEM business for a long time 12 corporations to my name I’m also a political whisperer So I’ve been able to get five big science projects funded by governments, international projects, with different people And I spent six years on the governance of Sigma Xi to in the most turbulent time that the organization that I’ve seen And we have been able to turn around the ship but the job is not complete until we finish it So I’m asking you for a mandate to continue and finish the activity as well as increase the reach of Sigma Xi at its new fellow program, strategic teaming with other like organization maximizing the reach of science and decision making especially in this day and age where many populous governments have taken control And also very importantly the cheapest thing we can do to increase our effectiveness which is increasing diversity – Well, thank you Richard Now Nicholas Peppas He’s a member of the university of Texas at Austin Chapter He’s the Family Regents chair in engineering with joint appointments in the department of engineering, biomedical engineering and pediatrics He’s also an international leader in the fields of medical devices bio materials, advanced controlled drug delivery, biosensors and bio nanotechnology Nicholas has been a member of Sigma Xi since 1973, Nicholas – Thank you very much, Linda I am delighted to be here and share with you some of my views about the future of Sigma Xi It’s exactly 49 years since I came to the United States from Greece It’s 47 years since I became a member of Sigma Xi Sigma Xi, you guys, how we call it in Greek, in at MIT Lots have changed in the last 47 years It’s a totally different new world Research has changed Science has changed I am delighted to see that in this week’s Nobel laureates, both Jennifer Doudna and Angela Goetz, who received the Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics are members of Sigma Xi It shows that there is continuous recognition of the field and that these individuals continue to believe in Sigma Xi Sigma Xi is an incredible organization It’s an organization that should be in the forefront It’s ideas should be used by the government, by all of us to improve the quality of research, to improve the scientific interactions, to improve convergence, bringing people together For me it is not important that you are a chemist or a biologist but we are all trying to solve a very important problem How can we do that without including the young generation? How can we do that without being diverse, without bringing people from different backgrounds? I wouldn’t be here with you today if the doors were closed for me in 1971 (bell chimes) This country is a great country, and will continue to be one because all of us believe in the idea that what we do helps people, in my case also patient And with this, I would be delighted to hear the questions that you’re going to post today Thank you – Thank you Nicholas Well, okay Are you ready for the questions that were sent in earlier? Let’s proceed with alacrity Here’s the first question

The society has taken positions on what some members view as political issues As an example, funding priority of R and D, COVID response What is your position candidates? Nicholas first then Richard? – Thank you very much This is an extremely important question and one that many of us are trying to address in our institutions and in the national world I come this week from the National Academy of Engineering Meeting was done virtually in which the same question was posed As a president, as somebody who is going to direct this particular organization I will always have an open mind and I will talk to our members to try to develop the consensus of that particular group At the same time as an individual, I have my own ideas And while the importance of research, the importance of certain aspects of research and what really we can do Whether for example, COVID would be the only thing we are going to be doing these days or what happens with the people that suffer from heart diseases from diabetes What happens to the infrastructure of this country? What happens to the roads and so on? This will be the result of a very judicious choice of information that we are going to get data driven information, we are going to get from the members of Sigma Xi and that I, and the board will be able to combine together in order to give a certain answer and answers Thank you – Richard – Hello. Sigma Xi has a board of directors whose job is to be the guardian of the mission of the organization, of the long view And clearly this issue of blizzard political positioning did occur to us recently It was started by Scientific American publishing out their views on political and asking people to vote on their political interest as well I do not think, and the board doesn’t think that it is the role of Sigma Xi to tell its members who to vote for It is certainly the role of individuals I commend you in having an interest in the election coming up And I’m pretty sure most of you will be, will have a decision made and will be able to get voted correctly Our status does not permit us to take a political stand We can make a political position or half position on different issues of science, but it is not for us to say this government or that government should be the better one It doesn’t mean that you don’t have an answer to that We expect that you do, but it is not our role to be that – Thank you, Richard Our second question now Sigma Xi members are largely older and near or above retirement age How do you see Sigma Xi reaching out to younger generations, such as early career scientists (Linda coughs) and STEM students and speaking to their values? Richard first please – Hello again I think this is a key element to what should be the future I have been at Academy meetings and in meetings where people were asking, how are we going to deal with climate change? How are we gonna deal with disease? How are we gonna deal with biodiversity problem? And I’ve been involved with climate change research since the mid seventies Not much has change up till now and what little change has occurred, came from young people So not only the, it is important and it is fun to have young people about, but it is the principle axis of change And that’s the way things are moving in the civilization and clearly by having generation of 25 years and so on, it’s probably driving a slowness in evolution, but that’s the way the system works So it’s important to get the students, the young people in contact with the generation we’re in now and one of the best way to do that, and I tend to do this every time we have an annual meeting, it is to be one of the judge on, on the posters that students make I think this is probably the best thing that,

the best mechanism we have to get the young people to be interested in science and not only that, to consider point of views of elders into their communities And so it is critical that we bring the students in further I think it’s important that we have a mix and find ways to mix the elders Well, like both of your candidates right now and the young people in order that we pass to the next generation what needs to be passed and they pass to our generation the will to change things and understand that nothing is done until the fat lady sings – Thank you oh wise elder (Linda laughs) Nicholas – The Sigma Xi is an unusual organization in the sense that many of us are elected and we become members when we are very young As graduate students, when we do our first good research and so on And then there is a hiatus Quite a few of us drop out of the organization For me, that is a mistake and something that I will try to address right from the beginning, if I were to be elected president elect I would like to see the young generation that is 30, 35 40 years old to come back, to realize that this organization represents science, represents research of all types not just what I happen to be doing in my own research But all types From history to anthropology, to archeology, to music and so on The young generation has to come into the game very early I will propose if I am to be elected, I would propose that we form committees, subcommittees with young members, graduate students, perhaps undergraduates as well representing a wide range of universities and associations that will be able to give us these new ideas I’m definitely geriatric I’m 72 years old but I happen to have a 16 year old and a 20 year old And I can tell you, they keep me on my toes every moment (chuckles) and they correct me and I learn from the young generation and I admire the young generation and I want this organization to be a vibrant organization representing all aspects and not only aspects of individuals of my age – Well thank you, sage counselor (Nicholas laughs) Now for our next question, how do you think that Sigma Xi could better address when Sigma Xi members exhibit signs of implicit bias? Nicholas? – Thank you very much This is an extremely important question The university of Texas and in various organizations where I am we discuss it and we discuss it again and again And it takes a long time to figure out that yes, there is implicit bias and it needs to be addressed We need to bring in younger generation or people who are better educated in those areas who can really identify for us the problems We need to hear both sides But I think it’s very important for us to appreciate that there are certain things that must change in the way we think if that is going to affect Sigma Xi, so be it, I will support it I understand that this comes close to perhaps political views and my own personal beliefs But as a president, I believe I have to listen to what you say and if there is a large majority that believes that there is an implicit bias, we have to try to correct it One last thing at the university of Texas, we have now all kinds of committees that are really addressing the question and they’re trying to correct it In many of the societies where I was president or I am president, we do the same thing So it’s something that I think Sigma Xi should definitely address – Thank you for making me the implicit, explicit Nicholas and now Richard – Well implicit social cognition is a very difficult thing to identify It comes not necessarily because a person

has the the wrong way of dealing or is not politically correct It comes from a part of the brain, which is a bit elder And it first comes from the part of the brain that may be able to say things that are not really in his four trunks of cortex and is not necessarily okay I think it is very difficult to, it is very difficult to deal with generally because people will be generally politically correct However, this type of social condition is critical to be able to provide feedback to the person who uses it or the organization that uses it They may not understand that what they’re saying is cognitive difference between them and the rest of the organization and maybe giving the wrong opinion (bell chimes) off the cuff So it is very important that we provide some feedback to the people who are providing these comments so they realize that there’s an issue between the frontal cortex and the reptilian brain – Yeah, well explicated, thank you, Richard (indistinct) And now our next question is a multi-part question So it’s a little bit long How much experience have you had with diversity initiatives? How much do you intend to look at models of success for minorities such as HBCUs before implementing diversity policies? Are you going to ensure that any changes you propose are data informed? How are you going to handle pushback from members who feel that discussion of diversity and inclusion should be outside the realm of science? Richard – Right, well this is something that comes fairly close to art I’m an American native by background by generation, I certainly feel the difference in Canada we’re very much in a reconciliation type of project between the first nation and government and the Canadian people It’s clear that this is not occurring at the same rate in New York And that is probably a bit of a sad thing, if not shocking thing So the second question is look at model of success for minorities such as HBCU, well I’m from an H and the CU And I would make sure that nobody has an implicit social cognition on the fact that the bill has been reversed by and then, but I’m a native in disgrace I am on the First Nation University of Canada which is an organization, which is HNCU in the sense that it’s a first nation and a native people organization I’m on the board of governors and I do understand and I do come, come back with issues that are not the best decision that are meant to separate people who are of European descent and the native And so we are dealing with this in a very open fashion We are dealing with decisions in the past that have been wrong And we do know for a fact that when the diversity is included that performance of an organization rises by 50 to 58%, depending on issues that Scientific American and Nature demonstrated that with diverse group of writers, women, men, and all other types of different individuals, including first nation and people of color which is part of what we are as well And so when we have all these people together we get an upgrade in capabilities It’s a very cheap way to get more performance out of an organization And certainly inclusion is going to be part of what I would like to bring and make sure that we steer in the right direction and be able to carry the day – Thank you Richard, very sensitively expressed Nicholas – Diversity and inclusion and equity are three areas, three words that are very important to me They need to enter in our curricular, in the universities and they need to air their you know, societies that represent us

Why? Because diverse background individuals have different experiences that maybe others don’t have So we have to bring all these experiences together In science there is something called convergence, I’m sorry to deviate a minute, but it is a way to bring together a chemist and a biologist and a mathematician and a medical doctor to solve an important problem, say a problem of cancer The same thing happens in our society There is a convergence where people of different backgrounds come together to address those problems I think I have been reasonably well prepared for that I was chair of the biomedical engineering department for six years, starting around 2008 And during that time, I realized once more, how important it was for us to start recruiting individuals with equity with parity, without any problems of helping one group or promoting one group more than another And this we did I’ve done that much earlier in my life Before it was diversity, it was how women could get into the scientific world I’m very proud to tell you that my mother was a scientist Of course, the conditions were such that she never practiced it but I can say much more that I personally out of a 115 PhDs that I have graduated, 45 of them are women My first PhD in 1978, 79 was a woman For me this is a natural part of what we are trying to do We’re trying to educate the world We’re trying to represent the world Effectively, we’re trying to go back to Washington or to Ottawa, (Richard laughing) and say that, look we have come up with some important conclusions They’re not political conclusions They are simply understanding that our world has changed And there are people in the values from different areas that come together Thank you – Also very sensitive Nicholas Both of you very heartful knowingness Thank you So here’s a last question for both of you From your perspective what’s the biggest challenge or challenges facing Sigma Xi and how would you address it or them? Nicholas please – Here, we have to bring different Can you repeat the question one minute? Because Sigma Xi sent me a message as you were talking, you know (Nicholas laughs) – Sure, no problem From your perspective, what’s the biggest challenge or challenges facing Sigma Xi and how would you address them? – The challenge has been there for many years And I see it every year and I get very, very disappointed We need to increase the number of members and we need to have active members I believe that this organization about 30 years ago was close to a hundred thousand We need to bring many of these people back and to have them active we need to increase the number of students, faculty researchers, and others who participate in the meetings So we need first to come up with an infrastructure that will bring those young students in and they have to be from all organizations from all universities not only from the so called well-known universities They have to come from underrepresented universities, universities where they are underrepresented areas and so on But at the same time, we need to keep them Now, I’m going to mention the name of something that some of you may not like, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences I’m very much involved in that organization I’d like to see us having a much broader and bigger annual meeting and then individual smaller meetings to address some of the important research and science problems Ladies and gentlemen Sigma Xi, Sigma Xi is a Greek word, and it means Spoudon Xynones, it means the place where studies take place, where people talk and interact Let’s do that Let’s do it in a better way than AAAS or anybody else is doing it

And that for me is the number one goal Thank you – Love your passion Nicholas, thank you And Richard? – Well, when I got on board six years ago, the corporation was in dire straights The organization was very much difficulties with financing a big building that was costing a lot of money And so we had to pull in and rectify the direction of the organization And under two different CEOs, it has been a difficult time I have to admit for the last six years, it was not easy My job in the real world is turning around organization and this one needed a turnaround So we’re not out of the woods yet We’re doing better than we were doing We’ve slowed down the rate of decrease We need to get things going The things about growing people and growing the organization will be done with getting fellows to talk to young kids, increasing the absorption of younger people in the organization, making sure that they have a place to voice their views and that we can discuss openly with them That’s very much the native way of doing things and resolving issues and this is how I’d like to propose this At the same time, we are an organization that has evolved within the international and U.S. type of system We have the AAAS, we have the academies, we have all sorts of organizations that are stepping on each other’s toes I would expect that it is probably in our best interests to find and adopt closer relationships with academies of the world I went with organization like AAAS like European commission type of organizations and things of that nature I think we can get a better positioning of the organization within the ramification of the different areas of business or let’s say market segments that where we can be we can be a winner So there’s many things we can do is things that do not cost a lot of money to improve our performance in qualification We need to be aligned with a few organizations as opposed to trying to step on each other toes and dance together There’s nothing wrong about doing that And then we will be able to get the right amount of people and the right amount of economics that will make the organization thrive – Love your realistic and uplifting energy Thank you Richard And now our final question is directed specifically to Richard Richard, you are involved in an impressive diversity of organizations and activities that could help Sigma Xi broaden its viewpoint I just want to know if you’ll have time for Sigma Xi amidst all those projects – Well I think the answer I already gave, I’ve been with Sigma Xi for six years It’s already part of my agenda, it’s part and parcel, I believe strongly in the values and in the mission of Sigma Xi So not only have I wanted to be a president but I did start with the lowest rank I started with the board I started with the international group We started bringing new ideas to the front That is essentially what I would like to continue and do and propel some new ideas in terms of increasing diversity, associating ourselves with other organization, sharing activities so that we can reduce cost and maximize operations and see ourselves doing well So there’s no issue, yeah, clearly I am a busy man and generally there’s a saying that says if you want to get something done give it to somebody who’s busy And that’s a certain factor I am busy, but at the same time I’m focused on making sure that in this latter part of my life, I’ll be getting things done and I’ll be able to make things strive and people will be able to remember what I do? – Your commitment is very reassuring Richard Nicholas Sir, I think the same question applies to you

Would you like to respond as well please? – Very much so Thank you I am really very much involved with a number of organization and with a number of academies I still teach I still have a group of graduate students and undergraduates In fact, when we finish today, I’m going to go and have my meeting with the undergraduate students in a nice virtual I love what I do I believe that I have the stamina and the enthusiasm Otherwise I wouldn’t have really put myself forward for this particular position I know this particular position will require a lot of time I’m willing to do it I think I’m relatively well organized And I do not mind at all, of course, working long hours So for me, it’s not a question of giving, it’s the question of where you give it? I believe in this organization, I remember the day I became a member at MIT It was really something that is very difficult to explain We were all excited that our colleagues, our university and so on had accepted that we were doing something good And they continue with us enthusiasm Both at Purdue where I was very active in the Chapter and presidency and so on And now more recently at the University of Texas, where we do have some problems in our local Chapter But what I want to say is, of course I have the time for it And I, rest assured, that I will spend all the time that is necessary if I’m elected Thank you – And likewise, your dedication to Sigma Xi very reassuring Both of you, we’re very fortunate to have both of you as our candidates So thank you both for answering the questions that were sent in by the Sigma Xi members And we’re now going to invite questions from our audience and Jamie, would you mind reviewing the instructions again on how our audience can submit their questions? – Sorry Muted there Thank you Linda, for a welcoming the instructions again we, I believe we have a couple of questions in the Q&A but I’m going to read through the instructions Option one is for persons wanting to ask questions verbally So please use the raise hand feature in zoom, and you will be unmuted by the facilitator and invited to ask your question in the order, in which it appears in the queue Please speak clearly when asking your question and we request that you state your name, affiliation, the candidate for whom the question is directed and then pose your question Option two is for submitting written questions Please use the Q&A feature and write your name, affiliation, the candidate for whom the question is directed and then pose your question The moderator will read the question in the order received in the queue For those who have a follow-up question, please follow the same instructions listed above Follow-up questions will be answered in the order received in the queue And when asking the question please indicate that it is a follow-up and to whom the question should be directed Thank you – Thank you Jamie And I believe we have one raised hand to be acknowledged in mind, is that correct? – Yes. We have one member of, Louie Sherman If you are available, you are now allowed to speak, you’re unmuted and you may state your question – [Louie] Am I unmuted? Can you hear me? – [Nicholas] Yes – Good Okay Hi, Nick It’s Lou Sherman – [Nicholas] Hi (Nicholas laughs) – [Louie] Okay, Nick was actually the president of the Purdue Chapter when I became involved And we’re doing well, but aging And so your last set of questions were the key things that got me to ask a question I’m only here by luck today Yesterday, I had a zoom meeting with a number of people on campus, all around 40, emphasizing women and diversity to try to look for new, younger leadership at the Purdue love And they know what we do on campus But when we start talking about the national, nobody has any idea And so the question for the both of you is so as we deal with albeit specific questions about gender and diversity, how does the national become relevant to the university Chapters? You know, we’re losing membership

It’s harder to get new members It’s very hard to get people to renew year after year You know, they join, we get them for two years or so, and then they just kind of stop And I know that it’s happening everywhere The numbers keep dropping that I see But in particular as we talk about, you know, getting more women and a more diverse membership, how do you see the national fitting in to all of this? – Richard, do you want to go first? – Yes Well, we’ve been having the same problems They’re there, it’s in many different Chapters Ideal would be international Chapters so it’s quite a bit widespread but there’s been an aging of our population And that is creating a turnover problem and clearly a leadership problem It’s very hard to pass the baton to the next generation I’ve gone and attended many of the Chapter’s activities and meetings in Canada and they’re elsewhere in the U.S and one thing that comes about very clearly is that we have no or little appeal to the young people at this point We need to develop a reason for them to join the organization clearly honored as one of them, but the, what other factors should be involved in it is getting to know people and developing a network within the organization that will help them to their first job, that to the next activity or will join them in different research and be able to provide an international activity or international type of projects that can be derived So I think generally we need to certainly appeal to the younger generation We need to figure out a way for the young generation to come in and internationalize the Chapters, raise the value of each of the Chapters by adding other activities and being able to talk to other universities and exchanging within universities So I think matching different Chapters together and exchanging people exchanging knowledge, getting young people to come in will interest the younger generation and you will be able to pass the responsibility of leadership to a new group Some organizations that have opted for, Chapters have opted to provide the university with an award for technicians for example, university of Calgary, for example and the university likes the price to the technician because generally people who weren’t a professionorial cast They will be getting some awards, but young faculty and other people in the research enterprise may not And so there is a reason, we are an honor society but none in honor [indistinct] from the elders or so an honor society for the young and other people who are involved in the research enterprise So my view is broaden the activity, provide value, increase value by having Inter-Chapter operations and exchange program and raise the value for the younger people – Thank you Richard Nicholas? – Richard you said it extremely well Lou, thank you very much for the question You know, I’m sitting in this office and I work and I listen to music and so on and every half an hour to an hour, I receive an announcement from an organization Very often an organization that is for profit, to participate in some important webinar, in some important discussion by zoom, where I will learn about something new This is a unique opportunity for Sigma Xi to bring in all the Chapters and the younger generation by really increasing the number of what I would call a regional or national short term seminars and presentations It is incredible what happens if you have a low fee and I haven’t spoken with Jamie, I don’t know if we can have a fee of $25 or $50 for them to register for a day

and hear what’s happening in COVID Hearing why I mean in the last issue of American Scientists we have this incredible story about this bridge in Genoa That was reconstructed and this is an international subject that I’ve seen the bridge I would like all the Chapters to come in and to listen to those We are here to educate them We are here to provide something new We are not asking them to go to Wisconsin and spend $1,500 to be at the meeting We are asking them to turn on the computer when they feel like, and listen to two or three talks You know how important, what a coup detat it would be if we had today, professor Robert Langer from MIT or professor Jennifer Doudna speaking to the local Chapters, to some of these inactive local Chapters and say look, “This is what we’ve done in the field.” Or Francis Arnold, I haven’t checked to see if Francis is a member of Sigma Xi People, they will excite the world They will bring us all together and they will make the local Chapters excited again and I know you guys at Purdue, I know you very well, of course I was there twenty six years You have magnificent speakers, and magnificent enthusiasm Your president is very enthusiastic and so on and they can help us So I think that’s one of the many things we can do Thanks for the question, Lou – Yeah – [Richard] I’d like to add something to that It is important that young people, undergrads meet other potential faculties in grad school We need to put people together That’s what we’re all about And so bringing people together means that we should have a dance card for different undergrad then they can talk to different graduate school and faculty in order that they are seen and measured, and people will invite them to come and do grad school in their school That is how we’re going to be able to provide value from younger students And we need to bring about some of the issues that bother them Clearly, climate change is going to have a havoc of a day Many of the tipping points have been crossed already So they’re worried about these issues So we need to bring those issues together And we need to figure out a way for young people to invest their time, to solve these big problems If we just tell them that the world is going to crash and they have nothing to do, they’re only gonna panic So what we need to get is organize the younger people to bring their new ideas to people who are leaders in the field, connect them together and hopefully they’ll do graduate studies to get same thing at the international level So I agree also with Nicholas – Yeah, profound insights from both of you with electrifyingly charged, genuine caring, thank you – Any other chats, Eman or should we just go to our questions and answers? I have two hands raised the but there were some questions in the Q&A that were before that when the hands were raised – Okay So let’s take a look at those All right From Ken Waiter, retired chemical engineer, and this is for both candidates Do you support Sigma Xi’s recent pledge to support no political candidates? – To the doctors? – Yes, Richard please – All right I do support it It is not, it, clearly we all have an opinion Clearly we are representing a lot of different people that have different opinions It is not the role of an organization to vote instead of its members, members will vote It is clear that some candidates are better than others And I remember when, Mr. Trump was elected and we had the board the day after, a board of Sigma Xi, people were depressed around the table and angry And so the answer, what I ask is that, “Did you spend time and go and vote?” Most people said no So to a large extent, the problem needs

to be solved at the voting booth at the mailing station, it needs to be, we need to bring people to vote But clearly the issues have been raised to a level in the U.S. that are extreme There there will be action and there will be consequences And it’s going to be an interesting talk But we represent a large amount of people and statistically you’ll have 60% of our members will have an opinion And maybe another 40% will have a different opinion And I can tell you that even on the board, different people at different opinions So this is not going to change Is it the goal of the organization to provide additional knowledge and additional facts for people to vote on Yes Is it our job to say, vote for this vote for that No it’s not – And Nicholas – Ken Walter, I think you’re a retired chemical engineer and I know you, the question is a very profound one and it comes because other organizations have taken a position We all know Scientific American took a very open position Yesterday, The New England Journal of Medicine which is probably the most respected medical journal did not necessarily encourage that we vote for a particular candidate but it discouraged voting for a candidate My feeling is the original decision has been made by Sigma Xi, even if I were to be elected and I get on the board and we start discussing it Of course it would be a different situation by that time Simply because of evolution, but at that time we can bring it back and we can discuss it and see whether the original decision needs to be revised Things do not need to stay in stone forever We need to address what the membership says especially the younger generation and so on As an individual, I have my own political views That’s a different story I would answer that question differently if it were a biomedical engineering society because I know what each particular party would do in the biomedical field This is a much more general questions for all science So I take the approach that Richard has taken right now, thank you – Yeah Thank you both Paul Schumacher, air force research lab has begun a question but I don’t think has had a chance to complete it So unless you raise your hand or finish Paul, I’m going to move on to Fenella Saunders Fenella is from the Research Triangle Park Chapter She says for both candidates, “How would you specifically respond to members who don’t want Sigma Xi to discuss matters of diversity or inclusion?” Yeah, Nicholas first please – Fenella, I’ve seen your name and I know that you’re very active in Sigma Xi This is a situation where I’m going to take my own personal view I will discuss it I will explain to the membership on a personal level expressing my own views Why I believe that diversity and inclusion is very important in this world And in this society, I will not impose my decision on everybody I will bring it up to the board We will discuss it We will discuss it through focus But in the other side I can tell you, this is an important matter that is very important to me, diversity and inclusion I cannot accept that some of our members will be excluded and if that happens, then I’m the wrong person to be president of this organization, now you should find somebody else Thank you – Richard – I’d like, well the first thing I’d like to say is that we do have a board and the board is extremely diverse We have all colors of the rainbows and sexual preference and all of these things I think we spend a lot of time talking about it It’s part and parcel of the world we are today We are now in the phase where we need to migrate together and be able to operate together as a group The data isn’t If you have a, if you improve your diversity,

you get better ideas You get to be less driven by male hormones and decisions You get to make nicer accommodation for certain people It gets to be less of a trauma The board at Sigma Xi has been, and is fairly diverse Clearly, we would need to make it diverse if it wasn’t So if somebody came to us with that appeal I would probably have a lot of good arguments to give him that diversity and inclusion be part and parcel of what we do It’s already in the system, it’s already wired in So we just need to develop further actions that will support it – Thank you Richard Jackie Erickson has this question Many younger scientists struggle to get ahead There are organizations to which membership is required Sigma Xi can be just one more burden, sad, but true How can Sigma Xi be more relevant to those early in their careers and how do we get their attention? – I guess it’s me – Yes (Richard laughs ) – Thank you Well, again, everything is about value and values We right now represent little value for undergrads We provide them with, you know, with occasion to put a pen, a paper or poster and everything, and that is right We should push on this and try to increase that, but we need to identify some added value that will bring them on onto their career and keep them with us It is important that we do so because now we have a gap of age or an age gap into our distribution of population And that is going to be a hard thing to pass over So I strongly believe that we do need to be able to provide this opportunity to them, the opportunity of maybe selecting a graduate faculty to present themselves at the other faculty I am teaching in three schools I know that may be too much but, in chemical engineering as well, but once I get five or six emails a day from people saying I want to go and study in Canada or at this institution I want to take a graduate program with you So some of these are from the U.S. as you can probably imagine at this point in time Some of this is international, but there is a need There is a need to put together people of the same kind of the same interest into contact with each other, have a smaller website conversation with a group of graduate or of an undergrad students And an expert in the field so that they have contacts, that they know who to talk with, that they can exchange virtual business card but we need to bring value to the next generation, we need to assuage their worried about the world That the new way of doing business and doing work and that their career are theirs and they’re not the main thing in their life anymore So we need to adapt ourselves to the new generation The different ways of seeing the world and everybody has wisdom in a different way So it’s time that we listened to people – Thank you, Richard Nicholas – Very very fast because I know our time passes and there are many questions I know very well young members of the community, they don’t have a lot of money They don’t have the ability to be members of a number of organizations I want to come up with an organization that would provide for them, as Richard said some value, something that they can use immediately That may be some kind of a group or a site where they will learn what new jobs exist Where there will be people writing small articles about how it feels to be working in Seattle versus Boston versus Salt Lake city versus Calgary I went to St. Veg’s in the week, but I didn’t (Nicholas laughs)

I didn’t want to push It that much But anyhow, really we need to do something that has value for the young people Young people cannot pay three or four organizations or 10 organizations’ fees And the other thing is as long as we can afford it to lower the fees from individuals who are 25 or 30 years old and they’re trying to find a job and so on – [Linda] Yeah Thank you very much We have a couple of people who are waiting with hands raised and we’re going to turn to them before we do just quickly We have many, here’s some things for you to be thinking about, the rest of the questions We have many inactive, questions, How would you encourage them to reactivate? How are you going to involve female faculty from Hispanic institutions? What about advocacy of ethics and scientific research? What’s the plan for international members? And what would you like to accomplish as an individual if you are, if you become the president? And let me see A suggestion about having regional sections and not institutional sections of the organization, but let me turn to That’s kind of background We’ll sort through that if we can get back to it, we will But Eman has a couple of things – Thank you I would like to recognize Louise You may ask your question – [Louise] Thank you sir for the opportunity The question is for both This is Jim Burleo from Texas A&M University College Station Chapter Two questions One is, how do you improve collaboration with other professional societies? Another question is asking what are your tangible plans to involve minority faculty students – Nicholas – The first question is a question of the national level And it is one that if I were to be elected on the board advice as president-elect, I will address immediately We need to identify one or two or three other societies with which we can interact And that will, of course, will trickle down to the Chapters So the Chapters can start working with each other However, I want to say when I was at Purdue and I was chair of the Chapter there, we were able to interact with the American Chemical Society without any problem It was not that we had to get permission from the national Louise, your second question is a very important one When I talked about diversity, my comment was not directed to just one group I noticed that in your chat, in your Q&A, you asked about Latinx professors and so on Absolutely And especially in Texas, you know how important it is for us We have so many students, so many, so many poor people that come out of Brownsville and Rio Grande City Have you seen the things that have happened to them? They know nothing We need to go ourselves as faculty, as students, as members of Sigma Xi and sit down with them, actually go down to Brownsville actually go down to Edinburgh and talk to them and tell them that this is really what you can do You can do for yourself You can do for your family You can do for everybody and so on and try to bring them in Try to make people understand the diversity 20 years from now, it’s not going to be there All of us will be equal Nobody will be questioning, Has anybody questioned that I’m Greek? I hope no, except for the accent (Richard laughs) They don’t question that and I considering myself Greek I consider myself as an international scientist who tries to solve problems So I can assure you Louise if I were to be elected, we are going to create those infrastructures Those groups of people that will be going identifying, the minorities, what we used to call minorities – Thank you Nicholas Richard – Yes There’s many things that could come to mind at this point The difficulties with minorities and everywhere

is the fact that they need to be in contact with other people and that’s how their value is going to be opening up So it is important for Sigma Xi to develop a kind of a computerized, system to be able to link people to other people And that way they’ll be able to find jobs in the, in academia But only 20% of those that have a PhD will find a job academia There is a lot of work to be done of great value in nonacademic system Industrial, we have industrial Chapters there’s a capacity of raising the interest of people and focusing them on the possible They have working in industrial organizations there’s PhD, there’s everything And people have been able to get meaningful careers and in specific agendas that have been able to achieve So I’m concerned that we’re focusing here on 20% of the population, which is the population that will go and become a professor in a university We need to deal with the rest of the population the rest of the student body, the rest of the up and coming international students to mingle into the rest of the world which is the 80% So I think I think the 80% solution is important to keep in mind It is important that nowadays with the technology that we have, the new technologies we’re working with in STEM to be able to connect people of like-mind and like interests And, you know, the idea of having a site in which you can select people to chat with and on a weekly business or monthly basis, faculty, different universities would come up and discuss with a bunch of graduate students just like we did the time that we had the general assembly, we would be one or two faculty around the table And the students would come in and we could discuss their plans for the future and provide them an indication of where they should go and knock And that this professor may be interested in what you want to do and provide them the content This can be done in other ways than sitting down and face to face with people nowadays It can be done with websites, and you can have professor move left or move right depending on who you want to deal with But the fact of the matter is we need to keep people connected and ensure that they’re well connected And that is going to be how people will find places to be, how they will be able to build their career And I’m saying again, I’m part of an organization that is promoting the 80% of the jobs, which is the non-academic portion Believe me, you can make as much money as an old professor in industry And you can have major problems to resolve and you can be dealing with climate change You can be dealing with methane exchange You can be dealing with Caesar All these things are available to people, but the availabilities and the possibilities of jobs and the interface between people needs to be done in a different way COVID-19, that’s emperored our old fashioned way of having big meetings where people would go and young students would come in and ask you a question This does not occur anymore So we’re going to have a vacuum, period, which we need to fill, and that could be done with an app or an organized way to get people to talk to each other in small groups, just like people do in a conference – Thank you Richard, these wonderful ideas It’s just like a endless waterfall, just so rich And the depth of earnestness and commitment and dedication is truly inspiring Thank you Well, unfortunately, our time is, has drawn to a close I’m so sorry we weren’t able to get to all of the questions but those questions have stirred an energy that I know will sit within these candidates and will help and guide them in shaping their thoughts about the presidency So thank all of you who made these contributions

And now each candidate is invited to provide 30-second closing remarks Nicholas, if you would go first please, thank you – We are here today because we believe in science, we believe in knowledge, we believe that that knowledge has to be transmitted to the young generation, to other countries and so on Let’s do this, let’s have Sigma Xi be the beginning and the most important organization that takes care of that And let’s educate also our journalists and the public that tries to get information from the Wikipedias and I don’t know what else and from a various blogs instead of getting it from scientists I believe in knowledge, I believe in science, I believe in Sigma Xi Thank you – Stirring Thank you Nicholas Richard – I am thankful This weekend it’s Thanksgiving here, or our growing season is shorter So I’m thankful I’m thankful to the organization I’m thankful that Sigma Xi exists I thank from that day, selected two candidates all over a massive people to be presented to you And I’m very thankful that he selected me And same thing for Nicholas My view of the world is that this organization requires a lot of TLC which we have been able to get going in the last six years I think we need to go to a different step that the world is changing And as the world is changing, we need to evolve So we have a great setting, a great organization, a great CEO and a fantastic journal Let’s use all these assets Let’s mingle with our colleagues and different organization Let’s find a way to reduce our overall cost burden and advance our capacity to recruit new people And clearly at the end of the day, people will be with us if we provide them with value and this value, may be a reputation may be jobs, and may be new research project done and why not having a fully diverse group or research group that can work together and present papers Remember all the papers that were reviewed that had large diversity in the authors were read much higher and the papers were giving impact factors which were significantly better So there’s a reason for us to be here There’s a, we’re at the end of a very difficult time, hopefully, and we need to change in order to take advantage of what’s coming – Thank you Richard Thank you A very rousing closure to this circle May we all be concentric circles that are orbiting around Sigma Xi and giving it all of the energy that we have So thank you both for taking time from your busy schedules to participate in this first ever Sigma Xi town hall I wish you both the best as we move toward the election And I’d also like to extend a very special thank you to all of the members for providing such provocative and stimulating questions Thank you, Jamie, for hosting this event and to all the Sigma Xi staff who made it possible and luminous – And thank you Linda, for doing such a great job moderating You really took advantage of this opportunity to highlight the important issues that we were discussing today And I’d like to thank Dr Boudreault and Dr. Peppas for participating in this town hall We really appreciate you taking the time to share your views and your visions for the society And I’d like to thank the audience for your participation in this first ever presidential town hall I’d like to encourage you all to vote electronically, November 9th through the 22nd As a reminder, each eligible voter will receive a ballot to vote for the president and other vacant positions within your individual region or constituency And you may visit Sigmas Xi’s website, to learn more about the candidates The links to the candidates profiles will be in the chat box for the next few minutes And following up on the annual meeting active members will receive that email from Vote Now with the ballot verification number and a link to cast your vote Inactive members can become active through payment of your current membership dues So come back and vote

(Richard chuckles) And also if you’ve not done so yet, please register for the 121st annual meeting and student research conference themed “Hacking the brain, the intersection of art “and neuroscience” being held virtually November 5th through the 8th Where we will be showcasing what science and art can do together that neither can do alone And there, you will also have the opportunity to learn how this organization can help your Chapter and serve all of our members nationwide, internationally, and wherever you are And you also get one of these great masks saying (Linda laughs) thanks for registering for the meeting So the link to the event is provided in the chat box It should be now, and we value your input So please feel free to send feedback about this event and other ideas to [email protected] and have a great evening Stay safe, be well Long live Sigma Xi – Live long and prosper (Richard laughs) – Happy Thanksgiving (Nicholas laughs) (Richard laughs) – Thank you, may you have one as well (Richard laughs) – Can we hang up? Finished? Yeah? – [Richard] Are we done? Already? – Alright, thank you I’m ending meeting now (Nicholas laughs) (Richard laughs) – Enjoy your class – All right, have good day Thank you very much – Yeah, likewise – And do not do what I wouldn’t do (Linda laughs) – But if you do, have fun Alright, bye – Bye everyone