OU students earn five awards at annual Sigma Xi conference


Courtesy of Oakland University

Oakland students receive Superior Presentation awards at the Sigma Xi conference.

Rachel Yim, Science & Technology Reporter

Sigma Xi recently proved its students’ abilities in research and promoted research programs of Oakland University.

Five OU students received Superior Presentation awards in various fields at annual Sigma Xi conference from Nov. 14-17.

Founded in the mid-1970s, Sigma Xi is a national scientific research honor society at OU. The chapter is also one of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world, representing science for 125 years.

It was initially founded by doctors Frank Giblin (ERI director) and Mike Sevilla (distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry). Their efforts have allowed the chapter to grow and create networking and collaboration opportunities for researchers at all levels.

Fabia Battistuzzi, the president of the chapter, played one of the key roles in allowing many students to develop their work.

As she discussed future plans for the chapter and work to streamline administrative processes to grow the chapter, she expressed her feelings toward all the members representing their chapter by receiving such honors.

It may be counterintuitive, but explaining highly specialized research to a scientific audience that is not necessarily in that field is actually very challenging,” Battistuzzi said.

A total of 12 undergraduate and graduate students attended the Sigma Xi conference, and the five students who received the awards include Ann Fuelle, Walter Wolfsberger, Laurel Levine, Erving Laryea and Naomi Haque.

This year’s theme of the conference was “Our Changing Global Environment: Scientists and Engineers Designing Solutions for the Future.” These five students presented their study in various disciplines including cell biology and biochemistry, ecology and evolutionary biology, and microbiology and molecular biology.

Ann Fuelle is a senior studying clinical and diagnostic sciences with a concentration in medical laboratory sciences. Inducted as a student member of Sigma Xi during her sophomore year, she has been an active member of the chapter throughout her college career.

At the conference, she presented her honors thesis project on the effects of microgravity and the accumulation of DNA damage in human cells.

“I don’t do research for the recognition,” Fuelle said, “but it was very rewarding and exciting to receive an award for my thesis work. Together, we had a lot of fun while also bringing home the most medals of any university there.”

Out of 12 attendees from OU, she was the only one to give an oral presentation. She said the hardest and most important part for her in the process was to prepare for questions from the judges and her audience.

I think I have achieved more than I could have imagined with Sigma Xi so far, and I am really proud of my fellow students who attended the conference alongside me,” Fuelle said.

She plans on continuing as a professional member of Sigma Xi and hope to attend medical school and engage in clinical research for her career.

Battistuzzi said the chapter as a whole supports its goal to promote the health of the scientific enterprise and honor scientific achievement — with a variety of activities that are designated to engage students and faculty members with each other and experts in many STEM fields.

According to Battistuzzi, Sigma Xi serves to support students who are moving their first steps in a scientific career, thus, encouraging students conducting research in a STEM field to consider joining the society.

“Within the society, they will find mentors and peers to talk to and also opportunities to travel to a scientific conference and apply for funding through the Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid mechanism,” she said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the society can contact the president of the society at [email protected] or visit its website.