Fred’s research focused on German life sciences in the nineteenth century, in particular cytology and embryology. In separate articles he examined in meticulous detail a range of topics that related to heredity, generation, and development. Each is a scholarly gem that was valued by his peers. Fred’s research culminated in a magisterial biography of August Weismann that charted the work of this major scientist and placed it in the broader context of the development of modern theories in the life sciences. In so doing, Fred demonstrated the connections among natural history, theories of heredity, development, and evolution. His work on Weismann, furthermore, described the institutional settings in which the research on biology took place, as well as the personal challenges that Weismann overcame. The book was a synthesis on a grand scale and is a major contribution to the field. Like the individuals he studied, Fred had a keen love of nature, and was an avid birdwatcher. His love of nature provided him with empathy for the scientists he studied, and an appreciation for the complexity that they were trying to unravel.
While at Indiana, Fred supervised numerous dissertations and educated a generation of historians of the life sciences. They, in turn, started careers and educated others, so that Fred’s impact on the field is extremely wide. Although some of his students pursued research on the history of German biology, others explored different national traditions. Common to his students’ work, however, has been an appreciation of complex interactions among nature, ideas, institutions, and individuals. His students cherish memories of Fred’s nurturing style of mentorship which held them to high standards of scholarship. His keen sense of humor enhanced a personality, the memory of which will not be lost.
In 1979, Fred had the good fortune to marry Sandra Smith, who brought to the marriage two children, John Smith and Brendan Smith, and an extended family from which Fred derived enormous pleasure. A celebration of Fred’s life was held on 7 October 2017 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington, Indiana.