Elodie Ghedin, parasitologist-virologist and Macarthur fellowThe John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Tuesday named 22 new MacArthur Fellows for 2011 who will each receive one half million dollars in no-strings-attached support for their creative endeavors.

Popularly known as ‘Genius Grants’, this year’s awards go to a range of scientists, musicians and communicators, all selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future.

Among those chosen were an architect, a sports medicine researcher, a cellist, a developmental biologist, a radio producer, a neurologist, a conservator, a poet, a technologist, and a public historian.

The recipients learned, through phone calls out of the blue from the Foundation, that they will receive MacArthur Fellowships without stipulations or reporting requirements, offering them unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, or explore.

“The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors,” said the Foundation in a release.

Among the recipients this year are:

  • a radio producer engaging a new generation of listeners with audio explorations of scientific and philosophical questions that recreate the thrill of discovery (Jad Abumrad)
  • a sports medicine researcher advancing the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sports-related brain injuries to improve the safety of athletes of all ages (Kevin Guskiewicz)
  • a technologist inventing low-cost, easy-to-deploy sensor systems to enable users to track household energy consumption and to make buildings more responsive to our needs (Shwetak Patel)
  • a clinical psychologist deepening understanding of self-injury and suicide among adolescents and adults in the interest of saving lives and influencing mental health care in our society (Matthew Nock)
  • an architect integrating conventional materials, bold yet functional designs, and ecologically friendly technology in a wide range of striking structures (Jeanne Gang)
  • a parasitologist/virologist decoding the genomes of virulent human pathogens that cause rare diseases and threaten the lives of millions in the developing world (Elodie Ghedin)
  • a long-form journalist crafting richly illuminating accounts of ordinary people in such rapidly changing societies as Reform Era China (Peter Hessler)
  • a percussionist and composer infusing Latin jazz with bold new energy and sound, dazzling technical abilities, and rhythmically adventurous compositions (Dafnis Prieto)
  • an evolutionary geneticist addressing such fundamental questions as why some species reproduce sexually and why some species carry more than one copy of each gene (Sarah Otto)
  • a public historian reframing the history of colonial America in works that illuminate the complex relationship between African and Cherokee peoples (Tiya Miles)
  • a poet and translator mining the classical world and poetic techniques to craft imaginative explorations of contemporary life that evoke insights about antiquity’s relevance for today (A. E. Stallings).

850 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82, have been named MacArthur Fellows since the inaugural class in 1981.

More info at www.macfound.org/fellows.

PHOTO: Elodie Ghedin, parasitologist-virologist and Macarthur fellow


Leave a Reply