Quick Contact

PRESIDENT: Holger Mauch, Assistant Professor of Computer Science
local: (727) 864-8372
email: mauchh@eckerd.edu

TREASURER & SECRETARY: Nancy Smith, Associate Professor of Marine Science & Biology
local: (727) 864-8440
email: smithnf@eckerd.edu

Sigma Xi
Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

toll-free: (800) 456-9009

Monday - Friday
8:30am - 5:00pm

Sigma Xi

American Studies

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Galbraith Marine Science Auditorium

University of Texas at Austin

Deep Earthquakes and the Secrets of Seismology

About a quarter of all earthquakes originate at depths more than 60 km (40 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface, and some at depths as great as 700 km (440 miles). Since their discovery in 1927, these ‘deep’ earthquakes have been an enigma because pressures and temperatures are too great at these depths for ordinary brittle fracture to occur. Deep earthquakes pose a serious hazard in a few parts of the world, including Romania, parts of South America, and (possibly) in the northwestern United States. Dr. Frohlich’s talk will address what is known and unknown today about the mechanical origin of deep earthquakes and explain why they have been used disproportionately in studies of the Earth’s interior structure. Frohlich will use familiar items to illustrate Earth structure and explain many principles of earthquake mechanics. Seismology as presented by Frohlich will involve raw and cooked eggs, baseballs, coffee pots, champagne bottles, diamonds, air hockey, and ultrasound. In every profession there are ‘secrets’, that is, basic information that is known to all who practice the profession but somehow unknown or misunderstood by the public. For example, most people are unaware that seismologists most often focus on understanding earth structure rather than investigating the properties of earthquakes themselves. All who attend Frohlich’s lecture, young and old, will learn a great deal about basic earthquake seismology, including much that all seismologists know but seldom tell.


Monday, Nov. 10 at 7 PM


Dept. of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Springfield 

There goes the neighborhood: Carbon-based and silicon-based entities learn to live together

This talk will be focused on the topic of artificial "life forms" becoming part of our culture. A huge example is Robosaurus, the machine that looks like a mechanical T-rex and eats automobiles. A tiny example is the molecular scale "nano-car" that has wheels the size of a molecule, and "runs" on solar power. At a more human level, the robot Asimo (from Honda) has accomplished "running" and climbing stairs. There is also a gas powered dog-like machine that can walk, run, and right itself on a patch of ice using movements that are disturbingly like that of an animal of some sort. Although the size range and physical accomplishments are impressive, it is the "minds" of the new machines that are the most challenging aspect for ethicists. After reviewing the challenges that smart robots are to traditional, human-centered ethics, Luciano Floridi's Information Ethics will be discussed, and how it includes humans, plants, and robots into a single classification of "information entities."  Dr. Keith W. Miller is not a robot maker or a nano-technology expert.   He is, however, an active researcher in computer ethics.   He is currently the editor of the quarterly publication IEEE Technology and Society, and a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Thursday, Feb 12, 2009 at 6:00 pm

From Astrology to Astronomy: from the "Music of the Spheres" to the Big Bang’s Whisper

Paul H. Carr, Air Force Research Laboratory Emeritus

Galbraith Marine Science Auditorium

How did the mathematical beauty of astronomy emerge from astrology? The ancient Greeks explained the rising and setting of the sun by having their sun God Helios drive his chariot, pulled by four beautiful winged horses, across the sky. Pythagoras, 590 BC believed that the planets rotating about the earth made the beautiful "music of the spheres," because the planetary radii had the same intervals as the musical scale. In 1543 Copernicus proposed his new cosmology of "the sun at the center of the most beautiful  temple." In the 17th century, Newton discovered the laws of gravity and dynamics of "the beautiful system of the sun and planets." Today, the mathematical beauty of Einstein'sgeneral relativity frames the whispering cosmos, the "cool" remnant radiation from the hot big bang. Modern cosmology tells us how the hydrogen in the early universe evolved into people.  Even though our concepts of the universe have changed, we perceive it as awesome and beautiful.  Beauty is an eternal object according to philosopher A. N. Whitehead.

This PowerPoint talk is based on the Chapter "From the 'Music of the Spheres' to the Big Bang's Whisper" in Dr. Carr's book "Beauty in Science and Spirit." This was inspired by the philosophy course he taught at the University of Massachusetts Lowell from 1998 to 2000.  From 1967 to 1995, Dr. Carr led the Component Technology Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory, which investigated ultrasound, surface acoustic waves (SAW), superconductors, and laser activated antennas. His 80 scientific papers and 10 patents have contributed to new components for radar, TV, and cell phones. He earned his B. S. and M. S. from MIT and his Ph.D. in physics from Brandeis University. He has been a Sigma Xi Member since 1957 and an ASPEC Member since 2007. His home page is www.MirrorOfNature.org

Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 6 PM

What Happened in That "Warm Little Pond" -- The Search for the Molecular Origins of Life

Donald M. Burland, National Science Foundation (Emeritus) & Dept of Chemistry, University of Virginia

Galbraith Marine Science Auditorium

The search for the origin of life has fascinated mankind throughout history. The ancient Greeks had their ideas, Renaissance philosophers theirs, and modern scientists theirs. In this presentation we will follow the history of this quest concentrating on research stimulated by the primordial soup experiments of Miller and Urey. These laboratory experiments introduced the idea that life's origins might be understood in the laboratory and at the moleculr level. We will explore the strengths and weaknesses of the currently popular theory of an RNA world, a world preceding the protein-RNA-DNA world that we know today. In exploring this subject a number of more general questions will arise: Will it ever be possible to know how life started? How do we know when an area is worth investigating and when it is beyond our current scientific prowess? Are there short term advances that will be made in this pursuit that will be of interest on their own?

Dr. Burland received an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. degree in chemistry and physics from the California Institute of Technology. After a two year post-doctoral stint at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, he joined IBM's Research Division where he served in various research and management positions for 26 years. In 1997 he joined the NSF’s Division of Chemistry where he was Executive Officer and Acting Division Director. He has been a Consulting Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at Stanford University and is currently a Visiting Scientist in the Chemistry Department at the University of Virginia. His research interests have included charge transport in crystalline and amorphous systems, nonlinear optical properties of polymers and femtosecond laser spectroscopy. He has also directed groups studying the physics and chemistry underlying electrophotographic printing and magnetic storage.

Wednesday , April 1st, 1:30 – 4:00 PM

Eckerd College Student Research Symposium

Sheen Science Center

Eckerd College students across campus will be presenting their research in the form of posters or oral presentations. This year, three $100 prizes will be awarded for exceptional student presentations. Best Poster Presentation and Best Oral Presentation awards are made possible through a SunTrust/ASPEC/Faculty Learning Grant.  A Best Overall Scientific Presentation Award will be given by the Eckerd College chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

While all are invited to attend, we need student scholars to submit abstracts and present at the symposium to make this a successful event.  The abstract deadline is Friday, February 27, 2009.

Current students from all collegia are welcome to participate by giving either a poster or oral presentation describing their work at the Symposium.  All submissions must consist of significant original research performed by a current student or group of students.  Research must be of the caliber expected for a national meeting.  In other words, submissions cannot simply describe class projects that do not rise to the level of significant academic research.  Thesis candidates and Ford Scholars are particularly
encouraged to submit their work.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 @ 6PM

Are Two Legs Better than Four? Comparative Biomechanics & the  Evolution of Human Walking & Running

David Raichlen, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona

Galbraith Marine Science Auditorium

The evolution of bipedalism is considered a defining event of early hominin evolution, however the selection pressures that led to upright walking remain unclear.  One popular hypothesis is that bipedalism evolved to reduce energy costs in early hominins.  To test this hypothesis, we used chimpanzees as a model of our pre-bipedal ancestors.  We measured bipedal and quadrupedal biomechanics and energetics in a sample of adult chimpanzees and humans. Chimpanzees use approximately 75% more energy than humans during walking, suggesting bipedalism may have been an attractive option for early hominins if selection were acting to reduce energy expenditure.   Using inverse dynamics to estimate the amount of muscle volume activated per step, we found that chimpanzees’ flexed limb postures led to large amounts of active muscle volume at the hip and knee and fully explain their high costs compared to humans.  Using a modeling approach, we then assessed how changes in morphology and posture impact estimated energy costs in early hominins.  We found that minor changes to either anatomy, posture, or both would have reduced walking costs compared to a chimp-like ancestor.  Therefore, it is increasingly likely that energetics played a major role in the evolution of bipedalism.


Sigma Xi Chapter Members

Ackley, Jeffrey W. (Biology)
Adams, Max D.
Arnold, William S. (Marine Ecology, Mollusc Biology)
Ayres, Paul S. (Metallurgical Engineering)
Baker, Victoria J. (Anthropology)
Beckner, John (Botany)
Borck, Hayley (Computer Science)
Bradley, William Guy (Physiology, Molecular Biology)
Brooker, Hampton R. (Physics)
Brunk, William E.  (Astrophysics)
Burroughs, Henry B. (Computer Science)
Carney, Ashford S. (Marine Biology)
Carr, Misty R. (Biology)
Chapin, Kenneth J. (Biology) 
Ciaccio, Leonard Louis (Chemistry)
Clarke, Courtney E. (Biology)
Class, Jay B. (Polymer Science)
Coffey, Elise C. (Marine Biology)
Cohen, Jonathan H. (Vision Physiology) 
Collins, Nichole M. (Biology)
Cooper, Raymond D.
Corty, Claude (Chemical Engineering)
Corey, Brian E. (Astrophysics, Geophysics)
Croxford, Mark A.
Darby, Catie A. (Biology)
Drechsel, Jessie A (Marine Biology)
Eckes, Maxi J. (Marine Ecology)
Ferguson, John C. (Molecular Biology, Physiology)
Gaskill, Teresa R. (Botany)
Gilbert, Melissa L. (Geology)
Gould, Ashley Rose (Geophysics)
Gowans, Shannon E. (Marine Biology, Marine Mammalogy)
Greenhow, Danielle R. (Marine Biology)
Hanes, Sheila D. (Botany, Ecology)
Hart, Kristen M. (Ecology)
Helm, Rebecca R. (Biology)
Heupel, Christina M. (Biology)
Hollweg, Terill A. (Geology, Marine Chemistry)
Hoover, Kelli J. (Marine Chemistry)
Hudson, Reggie L. (Physical Chemistry, Astrochemistry)
Kalapaca, Henry P. (Nuclear Physics)
Kennedy, Emily M. (Social Sciences)
Kreider, Henry R.
Kyte, Brian G. (Chemistry)
Mauch, Holger (Computer Science)
McGlamery, Merrill H.
McNesky, Justin B (Social Sciences)
Meigs-Friend, Gaia (Environmental Studies)
Mezey, Eugene J. (Inorganic Chemistry, Chemical Engineering)
Michelsohn, Moses J. (Biology)
Mitchell, Kristen Ann (Marine Biology)
Muller, Jennifer K. (Toxicology, Marine Biology)
Nosach, Courtney R. (Marine Biology)
Odell, Jessica L. (Biology)
Olson, Grant L. (Marine Ecology)
Ormsby, Alison A. (Environmental Education)
Randle, Noura J. (Marine geology)
Reichert, Emily J. (Biology)
Richards, Travis M. (Marine Biology)
Rinker, Bruce H. (Forest Ecology) 
Roberts, Gina M. (Biochemistry)
Ross, Ira F.
Santee, Amy L. (Anthropology)
Schmidt, Kimberly E. (Marine Biology)
Schwing, Patrick T. (Physical & Earth Sciences)
Simard, Peter, A. (Marine Mammalogy))
Smith, Nancy F. (Marine Ecology, Marine Parasitology)
Soli, Alan L. (Chemistry)
Sunderman, Stephanie (Marine Biology)
Thornton, Bridget L. (Marine Biology)
Voss, Joshua D. (Coral Reef Ecology)
Walsh, James A. (Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry)
Warner, Megan C. (Biology)
Westman, Jack C. (Child Psychiatry)
Wetzel, Laura R. (Marine Geophysics)
Wilcox, Christie L.  (Marine Ecology)
Yeager, Lauren A. (Ecology)