Sigma Xi, the international multidisciplinary scientific research society, was founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and encourage collaboration among researchers in all fields of science and engineering. The Society consists of over 500 chapters at academic, industrial, and government research institutions and has nearly 60,000 members in more than 100 countries around the world. The Society endeavors to encourage support of original work across the spectrum of science and technology and to promote an appreciation within society at large for the role research has played in human progress.
In 2013 Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University reactivated their long-dormant joint chapter of Sigma Xi in an effort to promote scientific research achievements by students and faculty and to foster collaboration between the two institutions. Chapter reactivation began over the summer of 2013 with a drafting of by-laws for the joint Sigma Xi chapter, and the schools celebrated their newly activated status on November 12, 2013 when Hampden-Sydney College hosted the inaugural Longwood University/Hampden-Sydney College Sigma Xi Research Day Symposium. The event attracted nearly 100 students, faculty, and community members to Crawley Forum and began with a welcome by Dr. Kristian Hargadon ’01, Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology at H-SC and President of the Longwood/H-SC Sigma Xi chapter (Dr. Hargadon was first inducted into Sigma Xi while a student at Hampden-Sydney in 2000). He introduced Hampden-Sydney College President Dr. Christopher Howard, who delivered opening remarks for the symposium.
Following these opening remarks, keynote speaker Dr. Timothy Bullock, Associate Professor of Pathology and Microbiology in the Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Research and Human Immune Therapy Center at the University of Virginia, delivered his address entitled “United We Stand: Synergy Between Conventional and Immune-based Therapies for Cancer Treatment.” This energetic talk highlighted cutting edge strategies for combining chemotherapy and immunotherapy in the treatment of melanoma and other cancers. While these approaches were once thought to be at odds with one another (immune therapies promote replication of a patient’s immune cells, while chemotherapy attacks cancerous and non-cancerous cells undergoing replication), recent evidence now suggests that optimizing the delivery of these different therapies may lead to enhanced anti-tumor activity. That is, certain chemotherapies have been shown to induce a specialized type of tumor cell death that triggers immune cell stimulation, and subsequent administration of immune-based therapies may lead not only to further eradication of tumor cells that escaped chemotherapeutic destruction but also to long-lasting immune protection from tumor recurrence.
The keynote address was followed by a poster session in which Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University students presented research conducted through Honors/Independent Study Projects and Summer Research Programs. The work of 22 students ranging from freshmen to seniors was showcased at the event and represented work conducted in various fields of science, including biology, chemistry, and physics.
We are so excited by the enthusiasm for scientific research at Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University generated by this symposium, and our newly reactivated Sigma Xi chapter has significant momentum moving forward. To follow up on the success of the symposium, an initiation ceremony will be held in Spring 2014 for the induction of new student and faculty members to the Society.