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.

Understanding and counteracting racial bias in policing

Kimberly Barsamian Kahn

23 Jan 2019, 7:30 pm
238 Smith Memorial Student Union
Portland State University

The lecture is open to the public and admission is free.

Police shootings of unarmed racial minorities prompted psychological research on race in policing in order to both understand and counteract potential bias. In this talk, I will discuss my research on the psychological effects of race and racial stereotyping on police behavior. I have conducted research with police departments across the country to study this issue, including with the Center for Policing Equity and local departments in Oregon. Using data from experimental, observational, correlational, and archival police case file studies, I detail how subtle forms of stereotyping, implicit bias, and identity related threats impact decisionmaking during police-community interactions. Analyses will examine both police and community member behavior during interactions, and how both parties can be influenced by subtle biases and psychological identity threats. These biases ultimately lead to an escalation in use of force during these interactions. Using this scientific information, I will discuss evidence-based interventions to reduce racial bias in policing behavior and how to promote more equitable outcomes for all community members.

Dr. Kimberly Barsamian Kahn is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Portland State University and leads the Gender, Race, and Sexual Prejudice (GRASP) research lab. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Lisbon University Institute in Portugal. Dr. Kahn’s research addresses contemporary forms of implicit bias and subtle prejudice from both the targets’ and perceivers’ perspectives. She has conducted empirical research and interventions to reduce implicit bias and stereotyping within education systems, work organizations, and police departments. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities.

Save these dates!

15 Mar 2019: deadline for submission of student proposals for Sigma Xi Grants-In-Aid of Research.

08 May 2019Altering nature with gene drives—We can. But should we? by James P. Collins, Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer, sponsored by Columbia-Willamette Chapter.


14-17 Nov 2019Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference, Madison, Wisconsin.


15th Annual SX-CW Student Research Presentations

16 November 2018

Sigma Xi Columbia-Willamette Chapter held its fifteenth annual Symposium of poster papers by undergraduate and graduate students in the sciences, social sciences, mathematics, and engineering on Friday 16 November 2018, at Portland State University in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom. The posters-only Symposium is open to students affiliated with colleges and universities in the Portland area. Awards are given for the best undergraduate and graduate posters in several categories.

38 student research posters were reviewed by 22 judges, and 18 cash prizes for best poster presentation were awarded, including a special award to a high school student. The primary student authors were affiliated with 3 local academic institutions (PSU, UP, OHSU); in other years, students at Concordia, George Fox, and Linfield also exhibited their research. The Symposium provides practice for presentations at regional and national meetings in students’ own disciplines. The Symposium is open to the public, and admission is free.

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, in June 2018. Brie Tripp (photo, L) won first prize in the Pacific Division's Education Section; Tetiana Korzun (photo, R)
 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."

Raluca Gosman, undergrad student in biology, presented her work at the Sigma Xi NW/SW + AAAS Pacific Division Annual Meeting at the University of Hawaii in Spring 2017, and wrote: "This conference was a fantastic learning experience for me as I got helpful feedback from the oral presentation I gave about my work with Y-Chromosomal Short Tandem Repeat Analysis. Although I did not get as many results as I would have wanted, I felt encouraged that I was on the right track to keep trying, keep perfecting my techniques, and trust the scientific method of trial and error. Because a large portion of my project is yet to be completed, the interest my audience had in the final outcomes gave me new motivation to work hard and obtain results this coming year."


The Chapter provided partial travel support for the above students, and others, to present their research. Similar awards earned earlier by local students at regional and national Sigma Xi meetings are listed in Student Awards.


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 Mar 2018. The following local students recently earned GIARs for their projects. Each of them also received a modest supplemental grant from our chapter.

Kelsi Ramos, Chemistry: Characterization of Pre-Transition Droplets in Liquid-Liquid Systems with Magnetic-Susceptibility-Matched NMR Tubes. Advisor: J. Charles Williamson, Willamette University. (October 2017 competition)

Tetiana Korzun, Chemistry:  Effects of Vaping on Ocular Health: Analysis of Selected Alcohols, Acids and Their Derivatives as Major, Yet Underestimated E-cigarette Vapor Toxicants. Advisor: Robert M. Strongin, Portland State University. (October 2017 competition)

Previous GIARs have been earned by students at Portland State University, University of Portland, Washington State University Vancouver, and Willamette 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 members.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Columbia-Willamette-Chapter-of-Sigma-Xi/123968660978608