Trudi Schüpbach and Eric Wieschaus: A shared passion for nature’s truth pg. 6
For Wieschaus, the best part of winning the prize was sharing his parents’ happiness and pride. “It meant everything that they could be there in Sweden for the award ceremony,” he says. “I couldn’t have done it without their support.” His mother and late father, who died in 2000, “were very accepting and encouraging of everything I did.”
“It was so cold in December, with only four hours of light,” Eleanor Wieschaus remembers. “We stayed in a beautiful hotel, and it was the St. Lucia Festival -- the festival of light. My sisters and I were so nervous during the ceremony. We were afraid that my dad would fall when he walked up to shake the king’s hand. He’s a bit of a klutz.”
Eleanor enjoyed the limelight in Stockholm, especially when she and her two sisters were interviewed by a Swedish children’s TV show. When the host asked if the girls wanted to follow their father’s footsteps into science, Eleanor declared, “No -- it’s too tedious!”
Think of Galileo
After winning the Nobel Prize, Wieschaus spoke at the United Nations and before Congress, then plunged into a river of lectures and appearances that could have inundated a less grounded man. “You become a public person,” he explains. “It can get overwhelming. Now I do a certain amount (of lectures) and no more. The good part is that the attention allows one to be an advocate for science.”
Wieschaus and Schüpbach are concerned about the public’s perception of science, whether it is human embryonic stem cell research or the theory of natural selection.
“I feel very strongly about this because oogenesis is my field,” says Schüpbach. “People don’t understand even the basics. When they talk about a certain point when life begins, they don’t understand that it’s all alive. The egg is alive, the sperm is alive, the mother is alive, the fertilized egg is alive.