SUNY Oswego physics professor Carolina Ilie was one of 15 scholars selected as Sigma Xi Fellows, a prestigious honor for continued contribution to the international honor society and the field of scientific research.

“I’m very happy about it,” Ilie said. “It is an honor to continue to be a member of Sigma Xi and all we do to help students be recognized and succeed in science.” That work is ongoing, as some SUNY Oswego students are scheduled to present at the organization’s national conference this fall.

Recognition will take place at Sigma Xi’s Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference, taking place virtually, from Nov. 4 to 7.

SUNY Oswego has a history of excelling within this organization. Last year, mathematics professor Ampalavanar Nathakumar earned the honor, and in turn this year nominated Ilie for the designation. In addition, students in Oswego’s chapter have earned three Sigma Xi awards in the past decade.

“Physics is very challenging, but it is important for our students to know that they have a bright future,” Ilie said. “The students have a lot of opportunities in the physics department.”

Ilie notes the honor supports Oswego’s student-centered teaching and research efforts. “It’s inspiring for students to know they have remarkable professors,” she said.

The Fellow of Sigma Xi distinction is awarded on a competitive basis to members who have been recognized by their peers, and have displayed distinguished service to Sigma Xi and outstanding contributions to the scientific enterprise.

Sigma Xi recognized Ilie for notable accomplishments and contributions to Sigma Xi and for the Oswego chapter earning the National Sigma Xi Chapter Program of Excellence Award in 2013 and 2018, as well as the Sigma-Xi Chapter Program Award for distinguished performance for "Science Today Lecture on Women in STEM."

"Sigma Xi offered me multiple opportunities for different roles in my life,” Ilie noted. “As a graduate student  at University of Nebraska at Lincoln, I participated every year in the Sigma Xi conference and in my last year in graduate school it felt natural when I received the best poster award for my research.” 

These opportunities continued when Ilie began teaching and becoming involved as a Sigma Xi member.

“As a new faculty member, I was invited to become a Sigma Xi member and an officer, and I enjoyed organizing, with my fellow officers, student activities and honoring them for their research presentations,” Ilie said. “At the national level, it is always an honor contributing to the National Sigma Xi conference. The passion, camaraderie, and scientific curiosity in this organization are the reasons I love being part of Sigma Xi. I am very honored and happy to become a Sigma Xi Fellow.”

Teacher, researcher, mentor

Her research focuses on condensed matter as well as physics education and women in STEM. Along the way, she has mentored many talented students who earned careers in nanotechnology, materials science, energy, aerospace engineering, computing or education. For more than five years she has received a Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellowship and brought more than 10 students for summer research to University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Her students won many regional and national awards and are co-authors in many publications.

Ilie enjoys challenging her students and has published two books of problems on electromagnetism and electrodynamics with her alumni Zac Shrecengost and Julia D’Rozario. She served as Sigma Xi officer for more than 10 years and as Sigma Xi president for more than five years. Ilie’s passion in teaching and mentoring students is demonstrated by the impressive number of student conference presentations (more than 250), papers and by her students’ success in establishing great careers in industry, teaching or research. 

Her passion for teaching is demonstrated by her teaching portfolio -- a wide variety of lower- and upper-level physics courses, including classical mechanics, electrodynamics, materials science to quantum mechanics and optics laboratories. For this semester, she developed a First-Year Signature Course on “Great Discoveries.” Ilie obtained the ACUE/ACE Association of College and University Educators and American Council on Education Certificate in College Instruction and stays current with the recent trends in physics education research.

On a college level, Ilie has earned the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2016) and Provost’s Award for Mentoring in Scholarly and Creative Activity (2013). 

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members.