Sigma Delta Epsilon Iota Chapter | Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
The interdisciplinary society for women in science, Sigma Delta Epsilon (SDE), originated at Cornell University on 23 May 1921. Adele Lewis Grant sought an opportunity for women students and faculty to engage in scientific and social interaction. The objectives of the fraternity were to further interest in science, recognize women involved in science, and unite them through friendship.
In Nebraska, Professor Elda R. Walker asked the national SDE president about organizing a chapter at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her efforts resulted in the Graduate Women's Scientific Club of the University of Nebraska, which later became the SDE Iota Chapter. The Iota Chapter was installed on 18 May 1927 and the chapter adopted a constitution on 30 May 1927.
Selected charter members included Phyllis Rice, an assistant instructor, Miss Lulu Runge, assistant professor of mathematics, and Carrie A. Barbour, sister of E.H. Barbour. Elda Walker and her sister Leva B. Walker were among the most prominent of the charter members. Leva served as national president of SDE in 1931 and each sister served terms as president of the Iota Chapter. In 1953 Elda and Leva received the Sigma Delta Epsilon certificate of outstanding service to science.
Iota Chapter activities included luncheons for high school girls and a loan fund for students completing graduate work. The Iota Chapter also assisted SDE in their active support of the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Committee on Foreign Women in Science. SDE provided assistance to high schools girls in India, China, and Korea.
Currently Sigma Delta Epsilon operates under the title Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) and actively assists women in the sciences with research, careers, and professional activities.