Sigma Xi ranks third in competition for first time

For the first time in its history, Oakland University’s honor society Sigma Xi ranked third in the Sigma Xi Excellence Award competition.

500 chapters of Sigma Xi from across the country came together to compete and present the research done by the prestigious honor society’s participants.

According to Dr. Shailesh Lal, who has been president of the Oakland University chapter for 10 years, what makes this society so prestigious is its 200 nobel-laureates, or members who graduated and went on to be nobel prize winners.

In order to compete the members have to become “full-members.” According to Regan Miller, an associate member, “you can ‘advance’ from an associate member to a full member by being a first author on two or more publications.”

The whole competition is based on the research of Sarah Medley, a student who competed in the competition, was conducted on the “evolution of malaria and finding ways to make drugs target malaria more effectively.”

Each participant is rated on a five point scale. Oakland is one of the only schools who sends 10 or more applicants to the conference. Annika Grupp was also a part of the competition. Grupp studies within Dr. Frank Giblin’s Eye Research Institute located inside Dodge Hall. Grupp created a poster on the lens of the eye and what proteins are doing that created cataracts.

After being reviewed by two to three judges, Grupp said she earned, “scores I was proud of.”

Both of these students had only become members recently and did not have any prior experience with Sigma Xi. Medley wanted to compete at the competition and Grupp did not know about the club until her primary investigator approached and asked her to join.

Lal has been a member since he was pursuing his undergraduate degree. He got involved later on as he was asked to be a guest speaker at one of the annual banquets after joining as a faculty member.

“As a whole, the society is centered around education,” Lal said.

The society is supported by donors like Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Oakland University’s president. Each year there is an annual banquet which initiates new members, and because of the donations each first year member has their dues paid for the first year of membership.

Oakland sent 16 students to the conference this year, which happens to be everyone that applied to attend. The University of Michigan won last year’s conference, whereas this year they did not even make the leader board. Oakland University was the only school from the state of Michigan to rank in 2017.

Medley believes that the victory “makes research and Oakland look better and currently it does not receive the recognition it deserves.”

Research is important and time consuming and it is not necessarily better to go to a big university to get a quality education or to conduct great research.

“I believe that students should pursue their goals, even if they’re afraid of failing,” Miller said.