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News from our Alums: Stephanie Dawson (PhD 2003)

Submitted by Michael Neininger on November 4, 2020 - 4:04pm
Stephanie Dawson
Stephanie Dawson

I grew up on a ranch in northern California thinking I would become a cowgirl. But while getting my undergraduate degree in biology at Yale, I developed a love for the German language and culture, further inspired by the fall of the Berlin wall my junior year. Working in a cancer research lab in Seattle after graduation, I continued to read and study German, and during a year in Tübingen as a lab technician at the Max-Planck Institute I spent weekends and vacations exploring the country. When I returned I decided then to make a radical break and apply for graduate programs in Germanics rather than biology.

Studying Germanics at UW was intellectually one of the richest times of my life and a period I will always treasure. The intersection of art and nature was never far from my interests and my thesis explored ornamental structures in 18th and 19th century reflections on the pastoral. I am deeply grateful to all of the wonderful teachers and mentors I had at UW, but particularly to Jane Brown who passed on a lasting fascination with Goethe. I was awarded my PhD in 2003, but already had one foot back in Germany after 2 years of the exchange program with Münster and a Fulbright scholarship to Berlin.

I have been living in Berlin with my husband since 2001. With my combination of science and humanities degrees I began working at the 260-year-old scholarly publisher De Gruyter. For 12 years I learned publishing from journal editor to textbooks, acquisitions and finally editorial director for biology and chemistry. In 2013 as the open access movement was taking off, I joined the start-up team for ScienceOpen, a research discovery portal, as CEO. I have watched the city change as I have changed with it – from techno club to Kindergarten. My two very German children are now both at the Gymnasium. I stay in touch with a number of UW Germanics alums and always welcome a visit in Berlin!

Thanks to all of the UW Germanics faculty who gave me a chance to follow my passion. I would not be where I am today without you.

Best regards from Berlin,

Stephanie Dawson

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