UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Kenneth Weiss, Evan Pugh University Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Genetics, was awarded the Charles R. Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
Established in 1992, the award recognizes and honors distinguished senior members of the AAPA. Weiss receives this award for his work in anthropological demography and genetics, which propelled him to prominence early in his career and is still cited today. He continues to have a major influence on the direction of biological anthropology through landmark publications, popular commentaries on anthropology, and science in general through "The Mermaid's Tale," his blog on EcoDevoEvo.blogspot.com, which he publishes with Anne Buchanan and others.
In general, Weiss' research is in the nature of evolution as a process. Specifically he looks at how evolution influences the genetic basis of complex traits, including the shape of teeth and the skull and variations in human disease susceptibility. He also looks at complex gene families such as those involved in vertebrate mineralization and detecting odors. His work has included studies of diabetes in Amerindians and the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease.
Weiss served as a meteorologist in the U.S. Air Force, reaching the rank of captain. He was at the University of Texas from 1973 as an assistant professor and left as a professor in 1985. He came to Penn State in 1985 as a professor of anthropology and served as department head for nine years. He was named a distinguished professor in 1994 and an Evan Pugh University Professor in 2000.