Research / Campus Community

OU’s Sigma Xi chapter celebrates research excellence with annual lecture, banquet

Sigma Xi Lecture

David Good was the featured speaker at this year's Sigma Xi Lecture.

Sigma Xi Banquet

Attendees dined at the Sigma Xi Banquet at Meadow Brook Hall.

Sigma Xi Banquet

Dr. Gerard Madlambayan and Dr. Sarah Hosch presented a plaque to Dr. Fabia Battistuzzi to honor her three years of service as president of OU's Sigma Xi chapter.

Sigma Xi Banquet

Dr. Britt Rios-Ellis and David Good

Sigma Xi Banquet

David Good spoke at the Sigma Xi Banquet

Sigma Xi Banquet

Dr. Luis Villa-Diaz and Dr. Sarah Hosch presented Dr. Britt Rios-Ellis with a plaque to commemorate her induction as an honorary member of OU's Sigma Xi chapter.

icon of a calendarApril 22, 2022

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OU’s Sigma Xi chapter celebrates research excellence with annual lecture, banquet
Sigma Xi Lecture

The Oakland University chapter of Sigma Xi, the national scientific research honor society, celebrated the research achievements of students and faculty during its annual lecture and banquet on April 7 on OU’s campus. The lecture was given by David Good, an author, filmmaker and member of the Yanomami tribe, an isolated indigenous people who reside deep in the Amazon Rainforest across parts of southeastern Venezuela and western Brazil.   

Good, the son of American anthropologist Kenneth Good and Yanomami tribeswoman Yarima, spoke of his early childhood experiences traveling between the suburbs of New Jersey and his tropical rainforest home in the Upper Orinoco of Venezuela, where the Yanomami still follow their traditional lifestyle of hunting-gathering and small-scale horticulture. He described his feelings of abandonment when his mother left the U.S. to return to her homeland full time, and how the pair reunited 20 years later when, at age 25, Good trekked back to the rainforest to find her. 

“When they were looking at me, and I’m experiencing culture shock myself and looking into their eyes and dark hair and sticks in their nose, I realized that I’m not a researcher immersing myself in this indigenous society for the first time,” he said, recalling his return to Yanomami territory. “These are my family, this is my blood . . . it was really emotional for me to connect with the Yanomami people.”

After reconnecting with his mother, Good made several expeditions to the rainforest to learn more about Yanomami culture. These experiences helped Good reconcile the past and find his calling as an advocate for the Yanomami people. In 2013, he founded the Good Project, a nonprofit that supports education, health care, research and cultural preservation programs with the Yanomami people. 

Five years later, he returned to his village and began researching the Yanomami microbiome. A microbiome is the collection of all the microbes that live in and on the body. Microbes serve important functions, including protecting against disease and regulating metabolism. Good’s research focuses on analyzing the differences between the Yanomami and Western microbiomes. He points out that preliminary data suggests that Yanomami people have roughly four to six times as much microbiome diversity as Western microbiomes. Scientists believe this finding could account for lower rates of cancer and other diseases among the Yanomami compared to Western societies. Good continues to research microbiomes as a Ph.D. student at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

 “Not only did I find my mother,” he said, reflecting on his journey, “I found my heritage. I found a way of life that I feel should be shared with the world.”

He described his research as “a call to the world” about the importance of protecting the Amazon Rainforest and the Yanomami people.

“We need to preserve their microbes, because who knows, maybe what’s missing in us is present in them and could help restore health and wellness in our society.”

Following the lecture, OU’s Sigma Xi chapter held a banquet at Meadow Brook Hall to formally induct 31 students and two faculty members into the chapter. Good spoke at the event, focusing on his academic path and encouraging students to pursue science with a healthy dose of passion.

“Whether you’re looking at a particular enzyme or protein, let it become personal, let it become you who are and don’t ever think you need to disconnect from science, from family from love, from camaraderie, because I believe without that, we have no science,” he said. “Whatever you do, just don’t forget the humanity.”

Following his talk, OU Sigma Xi President Dr. Sarah Hosch presented Good with a plaque to honor his support of scientific research, education and cultural awareness. Dr. Gerard Madlambayan acknowledged past chapter presidents Dr. Frank Giblin and Dr. Shailesh Lal and presented a plaque to outgoing president Dr. Fabia Battistuzzi, who led the chapter for the past three years. He followed up with remarks on the history of Sigma Xi and announced the names of the student inductees, imparting these words: “You are our legacy. We celebrate your successes. We are very proud of the work that you do for not only our labs, but for Oakland University and for the world in general, and we will always want the best for all of you.”

Membership in Sigma Xi is by nomination, which is conferred in one of two ways. Full membership is conferred upon any individual who has shown noteworthy achievement as an original investigator in a field of pure or applied science or engineering. Associate membership is available to any individual who has, through initial research achievement in a field of pure or applied science, shown an aptitude for research. 

The following students were inducted into OU’s Sigma Xi chapter: 

Naomi R. DeLaet, Gabrielle Gappy, Salvatore Mancuso, Arina Rodionova, Vereena Salib, Esme Lowry, Istri Ndoja, Rachel Demerly, Morgan Markel, Saul A. Ruiz Palacios, Adriana Jurek, Kwaku Twum, Frank Boateng Osei, Shannon Tipton, Annabel Shaffou, Samyukta Poudal, Kenneth Hilkert, Allison Creek, Stephanie O. Castro Marquez, James E. Noelker, Niraj Dhakal, Danielle Dorsen, Javier A. Menéndez Pérez, Dean William Minchella Jr., Andrea Nadjarian, Carolina Martinez, Gayoung Kim, Minelly K. González Acevedo, Lourdes Haddad, Fatima Bhatti, Kadijah Thomas and Alexis Doyle.

Dr. Luis Villa-Diaz announced faculty inductee Dr. Kodiah Beyeh, from the Department of Chemistry. He also presented a plaque to recognize OU Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Britt Rios-Ellis, as an honorary chapter member for her continued dedication to undergraduate and graduate education at OU.

In closing remarks, Dr. Hosch lauded the inductees’ shared commitment to scientific inquiry, saying: “You are all here due to a mutual passion for scientific research. Your individual energy and accomplishments will further scientific research on our campus and promote society’s understanding of science, and we’re very grateful for that.” 

Founded in 1964, Oakland University’s Sigma Xi chapter is nationally ranked for excellence in recognition of chapter activities and active members. It is supported by the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, College of Arts and Sciences, Center for Biomedical Research, Eye Research Institute and the departments of Biological Sciences, Physics, Chemistry and Bioengineering.

Sigma Xi’s mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. To learn more about OU’s Sigma Xi chapter, email Dr. Hosch at or visit 

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