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07-24-2006

Clarkson Professor Named a Fellow By the American Academy in Berlin

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/weiss.jpg]

Clarkson University History Professor Sheila Weiss has been named a Daimler-Chrysler Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Weiss will spend the fall semester in Berlin working on a biography of the German human geneticist Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer (1896-1969), the dissertation advisor of the notorious Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele. She will be one of 23 American scholars and artists who will spend all or part of the 2006-2007 academic year residing in the Hans Arnhold Center, a villa on Lake Wannsee in Berlin, where they will engage in their respective research and artistic projects. Clarkson Professor Named a Fellow By the American Academy in Berlin

Weiss said although she applied for the fellowship, she did not anticipate being asked to join the ranks of distinguished and renowned former fellows at the American Academy. She was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitational phone call in February 2006.

Each fellow is expected to hold a lecture during their fellowship to which prominent supporters of the Academy, prestigious members of Berlin's intellectual circles, and guests of the fellow are invited. On October 6, 2006, Weiss will give a presentation titled Genetics, Eugenics and Research Without moral Boundaries.

Perhaps most interestingly, the children, nephews and grandchildren of Otmar von Verschuer, the subject of my proposed biography, will attend, Weiss said. This should make for a lively discussion after the talk.

Weiss' scholarly interests include the history of biomedical sciences during The Third Reich, specifically, as undertaken by scientists in the former Kaiser Wilhelm Society, the predecessor of today's German Max Planck Society. She has also done research on high school biology education under the Nazis. In addition to the American Academy fellowship, she has received two National Science Foundation grants (one with a recent graduate student from Clarkson's Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Department and Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University Thomas M. Berez) and has been offered a fellowship at Radcliffe's Institute for Advanced Study. Weiss hopes to be able to go to Radcliffe in 2007. She will also undertake research on a two-month Fulbright fellowship in May and July 2007.

It is indeed gratifying that some people find my work to be of such interest that I have been exceptionally successful in procuring financial support for it, Weiss said.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a private, nationally ranked university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business, the sciences, health sciences and the humanities. At Clarkson, 3,000 high-ability students excel in an environment where learning is not only positive, friendly and supportive but spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. The faculty achieves international recognition for their research and scholarship and connects students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving.

PHOTO CAPTION: Clarkson University History Professor Sheila Weiss has been named a Daimler-Chrysler Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. She will spend the fall semester in Berlin working on a biography of the German human geneticist Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, advisor to the infamous Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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