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.

Rodent models of neuropsychiatric illness and the importance of sleep

Carolyn Jones, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar, OHSU

Thursday, 14 Mar 2019, 7:00 pm

327 Smith Memorial Student Union

Portland State University

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Despite spending almost one third of our lives asleep, the function of sleep remains one of biology’s greatest mysteries. Nearly all animals sleep more early in life, suggesting a highly conserved role for sleep in development. Indeed, disrupted sleep, specifically during critical periods of early development, can have outsized neurobehavioral effects. Poor sleep is highly prevalent in neurodevelopmental disorders, and is commonly viewed as a symptom of "bad brain". However, recent research suggests that poor sleep may actually play a causative role in the onset of some neurodevelopmental disorders. This seminar examines evidence across multiple species to test the idea that sleep plays an active and crucial role in the developing brain and to address emerging findings of the negative developmental consequences of disrupting sleep. Leveraging animal models to identify the mechanisms and purpose of sleep early in life is crucial towards understanding brain development in health and disease.

Carolyn Jones, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon in the Computational Sleep Laboratory with Miranda Lim, MD, PhD. After graduating from Duke University with degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Psychology, she then received her PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Jones studies how developmental experience shapes the brain and corresponding behaviors in animal models of autism spectrum disorder and specific phobias. She is especially interested in the development of social behaviors and learning in rodents and how they apply to human conditions. Her current research uses a unique, highly social rodent species called the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), which forms lifelong pair bonds with opposite sex mates. Using this monogamous rodent species, Dr. Jones is able to study how early life sleep contributes to social attachment behaviors and complex cognition.

Save these dates!

22 Feb 2019: deadline for submission of abstracts for the online Sigma Xi Science Research Showcase.

14 Mar 2019: lecture by Dr. Carolyn Jones, Post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU, speaking on Rodent models of neuropsychiatric illness and the importance of sleep.

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

11 Apr 2019: lecture by Dr. Jay Nadeau, Associate Professor of Physics, Portland State University, on developing instruments to look for life on other planets.

8 May 2019: as part of PSU's Research Week, James P. Collins, Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer and Professor of Natural History and the Environment, Arizona State University, will speak on Altering nature with gene drives—We can. But should we?

18-21 Jun 2019: AAAS Pacific Division / Sigma Xi NW/SW annual conference, Ashland, Oregon.

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

Kimberly Kahn, lecturer

Sigma Xi initiates


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.

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 2019. The following local students recently earned GIARs for their projects. Each of them also received a modest supplemental grant from our chapter.

Madeline Lewis, Cell biology / biochemistry: Uncovering small RNAs in Streptococcus mutans, an agent of dental caries. Advisor: Rahul Raghavan, Portland State University.

Scott Kiel, Climate Science: Moss as a Human Health Biomonitor: a calibration study linking moss heavy metal accumulation and human exposure. Advisor: Todd Rosenstiel, Portland State 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, 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 who are members.

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

Fall 2017: 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, 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."

Anh Ngo at Sigma Xi Atlanta meeting, November 2016

Anh Ngo won the Graduate Student award in Cell Biology and Biochemistry at the Sigma Xi Annual Meeting in Atlanta, November 2016, for her poster presentation: Utility of a low-volume imaging assay to assess the granular phenotype and activity of neonatal platelets. She's a grad student at Oregon Health & Science University.

Srikar Rao Darmakkolla, who also presented his research at the Atlanta meeting, wrote: "I learned many things from this conference...key note lectures are my all time favorite... Unlike other conferences, this gave us great opportunity to mingle and improve our network."

Amie Romney at AAASPD/SX San Diego meeting, June 2016, with Jon Clark

Amie Romney won the first-place award in Cell and Molecular Biology, plus the President's Award, at the Sigma Xi NW/SW + AAAS Pacific Division Annual Meeting, San Diego, in June 2016, for her poster presentation: Epigenetic regulation of alternative developmental trajectories in an annual killifish. She's a PhD student in biology at Portland State University, and she's pictured at left with her former undergraduate advisor, Jon Clark, who attended the meeting as Sigma Xi Northwest Regional Director.

Quoting Amie, "I had an amazing experience at the 2016 AAASPD conference in San Diego. Through my newly-formed connections with Sigma XI, I was introduced to many wonderful people. Everyone there demonstrated genuine support for young researchers in scientific practice as well as career development. I would have never had such an opportunity to build a network of professional contacts. Thank you to everyone who made the trip possible for me!"

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 Travel Awards.