Professor Weiss's research is in the field of comparative politics, focusing on Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Thematically, she explores processes and patterns of political development and mobilization, including such dimensions as electoral patterns and processes, nationalism and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, Islamism, "new media," and coalition-building in both civil society and electoral politics. Her primary current research projects focus primarily on various dimensions of political networks, party and coalition structures, collective identities, and the roles and strategies of legislators and other political leaders.
Professor Weiss's first book, Protest and Possibilities: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia (Stanford University Press, 2005) examines political mobilization and efforts at political change in 20th century Malaysia, and contrasts coalition-building and reform processes there and in Indonesia. Her second book, Student Activism in Malaysia: Crucible, Mirror, Sideshow (Cornell SEAP/NUS Press, 2011), situates student activism and its suppression as a part of postcolonial political development, focusing on Malaysia and Singapore from the late colonial period until the present. Professor Weiss is also editor or co-editor of six books: Social Movements in Malaysia: From Moral Communities to NGOs (with Saliha Hassan, RoutledgeCurzon, 2003); Political Violence in South and Southeast Asia (with Itty Abraham and Edward Newman, United Nations University Press, 2010); Student Activism in Asia: Between Protest and Powerlessness (with Edward Aspinall, University of Minnesota Press, Fall 2012); Homophobia Goes Global: States, Movements, and the Politics of Oppression (with Michael Bosia, University of Illinois Press, 2014); Electoral Dynamics in Malaysia: Findings from the Grassroots (ISEAS/SIRD, 2013); and The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Malaysia (Routledge, 2014). She has published articles in Perspectives on Politics, Democratization, New Political Science, Taiwan Journal of Democracy, Journal of East Asian Studies, Asian Survey, Critical Asian Studies, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and other journals, in addition to numerous book chapters.
Professor Weiss is a former chair of the Southeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies and a member of the AAS Program Committee, and holds or has held positions in the American Political Science Association's Committee on Siting & Engagement, Southeast Asian Politics group, Caucus for a New Political Science, Sexuality & Politics section, and LGBT Caucus. She has testified for the House Committee on International Relations (Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific), given briefings for the US Trade Representative and State Department, and served as a State Department lecturer in Malaysia. Professor Weiss has held visiting fellowships or professorships at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore), University of the Philippines–Diliman, University of Sydney, Universiti Malaya, Georgetown University, and the Australian National University. She has been the recipient of Fulbright, SSRC, ARC, and other grants. Professor Weiss received her PhD and MA degrees from Yale University.