AMES, Iowa - Harry Weiss, Iowa State professor emeritus in mathematics and engineering mechanics, has been selected to receive the Evan Ferguson Award for service by Sigma Xi. With nearly 60,000 members in more than 100 countries, Sigma Xi is an international research society that works to promote the health of the scientific enterprise and honor scientific achievement.
"Most scientific organizations are limited to one discipline. Sigma Xi, on the other hand, attempts to bring members of different disciplines together, not only with local and national meetings, but also with a fine magazine, the American Scientist," said Peter Reilly, distinguished professor in chemical and biological engineering, who nominated Weiss for the award. "Here on campus, Sigma Xi sponsors four meetings a year where distinguished scientists, two from ISU and two from elsewhere, speak."
Described in his nomination as a "champion for Sigma Xi," Weiss has served as a member of the society for more than 60 years. He has been the secretary/treasurer for the ISU chapter since 1992, and twice has served as interim president.
"Harry worked unstintingly to keep the local Sigma Xi chapter together," said Reilly. "Usually at universities, where everyone is much too busy, one or a few people take it upon themselves to act in the best interests of all, and Harry was that person for Sigma Xi."
In his award letter, Sigma Xi President Howard Ceri wrote that Weiss received this recognition due to his "long service to the Iowa State University Chapter, support of society activities and service to the local community."
"Harry's service to Sigma Xi goes above and beyond. Though his title has been secretary/treasurer, he really has been the force behind the continued success of Sigma Xi at ISU in providing a forum for intellectual exchanges among all of the sciences and engineering over the past two decades," said Steve Kawaler, the current president for the ISU chapter of Sigma Xi and a professor of physics and astronomy. "He has kept the organization humming along by handling all of the 'under the hood' details as well as by participating in all events."
The award is open to any Sigma Xi member, affiliate, staff member or friend who shows an outstanding commitment to the society's mission.
"This is a new award established by the national headquarters of Sigma Xi; only one is awarded each year worldwide," said Kawaler. "Clearly, Harry's contributions are legendary at Iowa State, and the national organization, by recognizing Harry's achievements, has indicated that his service is exceptional at a very high level."
Weiss' name will be added to the Evan Ferguson Award plaque on permanent display at the Sigma Xi Center in North Carolina. He also will receive a certificate of recognition for his efforts, as well as a lifetime subscription to American Scientist. Weiss is the second person to receive the Evan Ferguson Award, following Peter D. L. Roper of McGill University in 2009.
Information on Sigma Xi is available online at http://www.sigmaxi.org/index.shtml