We engage the Portland, Oregon scientific and technical community to enhance the health of the scientific research enterprise, provide opportunities for the next generation of scientists and engineers, and promote the public's understanding of science and technology. We are comprised of faculty and students from several colleges and universities in the Portland area, as well as colleagues in local business, industry, federal and state agencies, and medical centers. We focus many of our programs on enhancing the experiences of students at all levels. Many of our members are retired scientists and engineers who have relocated to the Portland area and find a community of interests through the activities of the chapter.

Sigma Xi events

27 Oct 2022, 7:00 pm: chapter lecture by Carlo Abbruzzese, Washington DNR, Restoring Oak Forest and Wet Prairie at Washougal Oaks and Lacamas Prairie Natural Areas, Science Research and Teaching Center 201, Portland State University (see below).

Other science/engineering events

29 Oct 2022: American Chemical Society 2022 Pauling Symposium at Robertson Life Sciences Laboratory. Linus Pauling Medal to Dr. Cynthia Burrows, University of Utah. Student poster symposium.

Restoring Oak Forest and Wet Prairie at Washougal Oaks and Lacamas Prairie Natural Areas

Carlo Abbruzzese

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Thursday 27 October 2022, 7:00 pm PDT

Science Research and Teaching Center 201

1719 SW 10th Avenue

Portland State University

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Look for a Sigma Xi representative at the primary entrance to SRTC, located on the corner of 10th ave and Montgomery (large steps at southeast corner of SRTC).

This presentation will provide background on DNR’s statewide Natural Areas Program and will describe the preservation and restoration of Quercus garryana (Oregon white oak) forest and Willamette Valley wet prairie in two Clark County natural areas. The talk will describe some of the rare plant and animal species that are protected at these two sites, as well as the successes and failures in trying to restore these sensitive habitats. At Washougal Oaks Natural Area, Douglas fir trees were thinned around Oregon white oak trees to prevent overtopping and eventually killing of oak trees. At Lacamas Prairie Natural Area, wet prairie is being restored using prescribed fire, control of non-native grasses, and the seeding and planting of native prairie plants.

Carlo involves non-profit and academic partners to accomplish restoration based on regional experience and research. A few of his partners include WSU Extension Clark County Master Gardeners, Americorps, CASEE Center, and university researchers.

Carlo Abbruzzese is a Natural Areas Manager for the Washington Department of Natural Resources in southwest Washington. His work involves the protection and restoration of rare plant communities and habitat for rare plants and animals. Restoration of these sites includes control of non-native species and planting natives in their place. The position also includes trail management and environmental education. Past work has also included working as a biologist on the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve near Austin, Texas, which provides protection for two endangered birds, cave invertebrates and several rare plant species. He has also worked on various field projects involving Northern and Mexican Spotted Owls in Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico. He holds a B.A. in biology from Lewis & Clark College and an M.S. in Biology from Eastern Kentucky University, where he studied the hunting behavior of Eastern Screech-owls.

[Full abstract and bio]

Sigma Xi Chapter of Excellence Award

Chapter of Excellence Awards are bestowed by Sigma Xi annually for "exceptional chapter activity, innovative programming, and true community leadership." In 2021, the Columbia-Willamette Chapter earned the first-place award; in the past 8 years, the chapter has won 3 awards for excellence or for its programs.

As part of Women’s History Month, Sigma Xi announces the establishment of the Linda H. Mantel Next Generation Women's Leadership Award. The award will include a $2,500 honorarium and be awarded biennially to an early career STEM leader who identifies as a woman. The award reflects Dr. Mantel’s legacy of service, generosity, and leadership within Sigma Xi and the research enterprise.

Sigma Xi holds a worldwide competition for research grants to students in March and October every year. The next deadline to apply for a grant is 15 Oct 2022. New funding focuses on more grants to women and under-represented minority students.

The following local students recently earned GIARs for their projects. Each of them also receives a modest supplemental grant from our chapter.

Sky Button, Cell biology: Using aquatic eDNA to inform the conservation of a rare and secretive terrestrial amphibian. Mentor: Jonah Piovia-Scott, Washington State University Vancouver.

Geoff Szafranski, Ecology: Contaminant analysis of coastal mangrove ecosystems across different environmental conditions in Hawaii and Florida. Mentor: Catherine de Rivera, Portland State University.

James Frye, Physics and Astronomy: Applications of EBSD Techniques to Constrain Thermal Parameters of Ureilites During Catastrophic Collision. Mentor: Alex Ruzicka, Portland State University.

Malcolm Peavy, Systematics / Evolutionary Biology: Vitamin D exploration of the mTOR pathway in Austrofundulus Limnaeus. Mentor: Jason Podrabsky, Portland State University.

Robyn Dove, Ecology: The root-nodule microbiome: Implications for invasive legume management. Mentor: Daniel Ballhorn, Portland State University.

Rebecca Talbot, Hydrology / Geomorphology: Spatial and seasonal variations of microplastic concentrations in Oregon’s freshwater. Mentor: Heejun Chang, Portland State University.

Amy Ehrhart, Ecology: Effects of Exposure to Coastal Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluent on Pacific Oyster Health and Survival. Mentor: Elise Granek, Portland State University.

Lara Jansen, Ecology: The Effects of Temperature, Nutrients and Non-native Fish on Harmful Algal Blooms in Mountain Lakes. Mentor: Angela Strecker, Portland State University.

Colin Wakeham, Cell biology / biochemistry: Trophoblast glycoprotein: A novel PKCα-dependent phosphoprotein in retinal rod bipolar cells. Mentor: Catherine W Morgans, Oregon Health & Science University.

The Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research (GIAR) program has funded research by undergraduate and graduate students since 1922. Of the 810 proposals received by the 1 Oct 2018 deadline, grants were earned by 97 applicants from 6 countries, including 17 undergraduate students, 24 master’s students, and 56 doctoral candidates. Collectively, the students received $87,696.

Previous GIARs have been earned by students at Portland State University, University of Portland, Washington State University Vancouver, Willamette University, and Oregon Health & Science University. We encourage students at all academic institutions in the Portland area to apply. Membership in Sigma Xi isn't required, but 75% of the grants are reserved for student members and advisees of faculty who are members.

Leroy Sibanda with research poster at Madison

Megan and Nacho with poster at Sigma Xi Stem + Art & Film Festival

November 2019: Sigma Xi Columbia-Willamette provided partial travel support to students Vusumuzi Leroy Sibanda, Megan Hanley, and Dr. Ignacio (Nacho) de la Higuera, enabling them to attend Sigma Xi's Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. In the Conference, Leroy won the first prize, in Chemistry-Graduate Students, for his poster, A mechanistic investigation of peptide S-nitrosation by nitric oxide moieties: implications for biological function. He also represented our chapter as delegate to the Annual Meeting, and later on the same trip, he presented his work at the NOBCChE meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.

Nacho presented his poster Crucifiction: an evolutionary story at the interface between DNA and RNA viruses. Inspired by that research, Megan and Nacho collaborated on a poster and a video at the meeting's STEM + Art & Film Festival.

June 2019: Sigma Xi Columbia-Willamette was pleased to help sponsor Leroy Sibanda's attendance at the AAAS Pacific Division/Sigma Xi joint meeting in Ashland on 19 June 2019. Leroy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Simoyi research group in Portland State University's Chemistry Department, and he won the top student award in Chemistry and Biochemistry for his poster, Vasoactive hormones identified as efficient Nitric Oxide donors: implications for enhanced opioid induced antinociception. Linda Mantel wrote, "As a physiologist myself, I found the poster most enlightening and greatly appreciated Leroy's thorough explanation of the work."

Leroy received this support from SX CW because he won a graduate first place award at our 15th Annual Student Research Symposium in November 2018.

June 2018: the Chapter provided partial travel support for three students to present their research at the Sigma Xi NW/SW + AAAS Pacific Division Student Research Conference, at Cal State Pomona. Brie Tripp won first prize in the Pacific Division's Education Section; Tetiana Korzun won an honorable mention in the Cell and Molecular Biology Section; and Emmanuel Abdul found the Conference "very enriching and a tremendous opportunity to learn what other people are doing. It certainly was an eye-opener and a great learning experience for me as I gained insight into possible applications of my work on Vertically aligned polymer nanostructures functionalized by magnetron sputtering. Sigma Xi made the experience and professional networking with fellow growing scientists possible for me and for this, I am very grateful."

Brie Tripp lecturing at AAASPD/SX meeting

Tetiana Korzun with poster at AAASPD/SX meeting

Similar awards earned earlier by local students at regional and national Sigma Xi meetings are listed in Student Travel Awards.