Sigma Xi competes in virtual competition

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Students used an online platform created specifically for the “Hacking the Brain” competition this year. (Photo/Audrey Xie)

Greek letters “Sigma” and “Xi” form the acronym of the society’s motto which translates to “Companions in Zealous Research.” A prestigious honor society found in high schools worldwide, Sigma Xi helps students explore their options in science research through the school science fair and nationwide conferences. 

Using creative thought to come up with experiments, students learn how to deal with real-world problems, such as cancer. To share with the scientific community, they use their skills to assist other students, communicate research findings with professionals and publish the AHScientist Magazine that details scientific topics and interviews of members in the science community. 

Usually, Sigma Xi annual competitions take place in states such as Wisconsin and California. However, this year’s conference happened virtually on an independent platform made specifically for the event, where the theme was “Hacking the Brain.”

To accommodate for the safety regulations under COVID-19, students uploaded videos of themselves presenting their oral or poster projects to the website, and judges used the chat feature to ask questions as well as score the projects. The website allowed students to see each other’s presentations and to hear speeches from the keynote speakers. 

“I have gotten to conduct my own research with the support of Mrs. Joykutty, Dr. Sood and Mr. Kepa, who have always pushed me to carve my own path and take my research to the next level,” Mishra said. “I have met inspiring scientists and had the chance to share my research. The skills that I have honed in the AHS Lab have allowed me to be accepted into university labs at a much younger age.” (Video/Roshni Mishra)

“I definitely miss the in-person conferences,” Sigma Xi president senior Roshni Mishra said. “It was a good opportunity to connect with our research friends from other schools and talk to scientists in person, but this way we were able to see the other presentations since we don’t normally have to to go [through] all of them.”

Senior Abdul Jalil-Dania won the Poster Competition category for Cell Biology and Biochemistry, and sophomore Savanah Lares won $200 for the Student’s Choice Award. 

“In the future, I hope that this won’t become the norm and we can go back to normal competitions again,” sophomore Asher Lee said. 

Managing the virtual competition was different, but the team accepted the challenge. “I think our team is doing a great job adapting to this virtual platform of research. We know that research is about growing and adapting to changes so we are trying to make the best of it,” Mishra said.

Nithisha, a sophomore at American Heritage, is starting her first year on newspaper staff. Besides writing and reading, Nithisha enjoys many artistic hobbies, like painting, sewing and crocheting. She spends most of her time either studying, pursuing one of her hobbies or watching "Gilmore Girls." A total book nerd, she tries to read as often and as many books as possible.

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