Sigma Xi

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Sigma Xi
Founded1886; 136 years ago (1886)
Cornell University
TypeHonor Society
AffiliationACHS (former)
Mission statementTo enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public's understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition.
Vision statementTo be the global honor society of science and engineering.
MottoCompanions in Zealous Research
Colors  Blue and   Gold
PublicationAmerican Scientist
Chapters350 Active in the United States, 170 Inactive, 20+ International
Members60,000[1] collegiate
Headquarters3200 East NC Highway 54
Ste 300

Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
United States

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society (ΣΞ) is a non-profit honor society for scientists and engineers which was founded in 1886 at Cornell University by a junior faculty member and a handful of graduate students.[2] Members elect others on the basis of their research achievements or potential.

Information about[edit]

Sigma Xi has nearly 100,000 members[3] who were elected to membership based on their research achievements and potential. It has more than 500 chapters[4] in North America and around the world. In addition to publishing American Scientist magazine, Sigma Xi provides grants[5] annually to promising young researchers and sponsors a variety of programs supporting ethics in research, science and engineering education, the public understanding of science, international research cooperation and the overall health of the research enterprise. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Sigma Xi was one of six honor societies that co-founded the ACHS on December 30, 1925. Its participation was short lived, with the decision to withdraw and operate again as an independent society made just over a decade later, effective in 1933.[6]

Today, Sigma Xi participates in a more loosely coordinated lobbying association of four of the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor societies, called the Honor Society Caucus. Its members include Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and Omicron Delta Kappa.[7]

Motto and name[edit]

The Greek letters "Sigma" and "Xi" form the acronym of the Society's motto, Σπουδῶν Ξυνῶνες or "Spoudon Xynones," which translates as "Companions in Zealous Research." The word 'Honor' was added to the name of the Society at the 2016 Annual Meeting.[8] According to Sigma Xi President Tee L. Guidotti,

"Sigma Xi, of course, is our basic name and has been since the organization was founded in 1886 as the scientific and engineering counterpart to Phi Beta Kappa. Like all “Greek letter” societies, whether professional or social, it is an acronym for the motto of the organization, Σπουδων Ξυνωνες (Spoudon Xynones), which translates as "companions in Zealous Research." For many years, we were referred to as “Society of the Sigma Xi.” In the early twentieth century, some in the leadership wanted “Sigma Xi” to be dropped altogether in favor of some formulation such as “Scientific Research Society of America.” In a strange quirk of history, both names survived because the organization split in the 1940s into an academic honor society (Sigma Xi) and an honor society for applied research and engineering (the Scientific Research Society of America, called RESA). RESA was a separate entity, wholly owned by Sigma Xi, and represented engineers and scientists at non-academic institutions, such as government and industrial research laboratories. In an even stranger development, Sigma Xi and RESA merged back together in 1974 and eventually began calling itself Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society."[8]

William Procter Prize[edit]

The William Procter Prize is a prestigious scientific research award by the society in the name of a member, William Procter, who later also endowed this award in 1950.[9] This award recognizes outstanding contributions to scientific research and the ability to communicate the significance of the research to scientists in other disciplines.

Notable alumni[edit]

More than 200 winners of the Nobel Prize have been Sigma Xi members,[10] including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Linus Pauling, Francis Crick, James Watson, and John Goodenough.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Members - Overview". Sigma Xi. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  2. ^ Michael M. Sokal (1986). "Companions in Zealous Research, 1886–1986" (PDF). American Scientist. 74: 486–508.
  3. ^ "Membership".
  4. ^ "Chapters".
  5. ^ "Grants in Aid of Research".
  6. ^ Maurice L. Moore. "Historical Information".
  7. ^ "Honor Society Caucus | Honor Society". Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  8. ^ a b Guidotti, TL. Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society Keyed In Blog. 13 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Ann Skalka Wins 2018 William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement". July 13, 2018.
  10. ^ "Nobel Laureates".

External links[edit]