On Tuesday, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named 22 new recipients of the $500,000 “genius awards.” The honorees, known as “fellows,” range from a sports medicine researcher to a cellist to a public historian. All were selected for their creativity and potential to make important contributions in the future.

The $500,000 award comes with no stipulations and fellows can do as they please with the cash prize. The award not only recognizes the fellows for their work but also offers them “the gift of time and the unfettered opportunity to explore, create, and contribute,” Daniel Socolow, director of the MacArthur Fellows Program said in a statement.

Perhaps the most recognized name on the list of honorees is Jad Abumrad, the co-host and producer of WNYC’s Radiolab, a weekly radio show that unravels complex scientific and philosophical questions. There’s also Harvard Economist Roland Fryer who studies racial discrimination, labor market inequalities, and educational underachievement.

Below you’ll find the complete list of winners with fellows of color highlighted with video.


Jad Abumrad
WNYC Radio
New York, NY
Age: 38

Radio Host and Producer engaging a new generation of listeners with audio explorations of scientific and philosophical questions that evoke a sense of adventure and recreate the thrill of discovery.


Marie-Therese Connolly Appleseed, Washington, DC, Age: 54
Elder Rights Lawyer raising awareness about and seeking solutions to the largely hidden but immense problems of elder abuse and neglect.


Roland Fryer
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
Age: 34

Economist offering new insight into such issues as racial discrimination, labor market inequalities, and educational underachievement and illuminating the causes and consequences of economic disparity in American society.


Jeanne Gang Studio Gang, Chicago, IL, Age: 47
Architect integrating conventional materials, striking yet functional designs, and ecologically friendly technology in bold structures that challenge the aesthetic and technical possibilities of the art form.

Elodie Ghedin University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, Age: 44 Parasitologist/ Virologist decoding the genomes of virulent human pathogens that cause such diseases as leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, and river blindness and threaten the lives of millions in the developing world.


Shwetak Patel
University of Washington,
Seattle Seattle, WA
Age: 29

Sensor Technologist and Computer Scientist inventing low-cost, easy-to-deploy sensor systems that leverage existing infrastructures to enable users to track household energy consumption and to make the buildings we live in more responsive to our needs.


Markus Greiner
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Age: 38
Condensed Matter Physicist improving our capacity to control the spatial organization of ultra-cold atoms and applying these advances to both fundamental inquiry and technology.

Kevin Guskiewicz University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, Age: 45 Sports Medicine Researcher combining laboratory and on-the-field investigations to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sports-related brain injuries and to improve the safety of athletes of all ages.

Peter Hessler Ridgway, CO, Age: 42 Long-Form Journalist crafting keenly observed accounts of ordinary people responding to the complexities of life in such rapidly changing societies as Reform Era China.


Tiya Miles
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
Age: 41

Public Historian reframing and reinterpreting the history of our diverse nation in works that illuminate the complex interrelationships between African and Cherokee peoples in colonial America.



Matthew Nock Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Age: 38 Clinical Psychologist deepening understanding of self-injury and suicide among adolescents and adults by combining epidemiology, laboratory experiments, and real-time psychological assessments in the interest of saving lives and influencing mental health care in our society.


Francisco Núñez
Young People’s Chorus of New York City
New York, NY
Age: 46

Choral Conductor and Composer shaping the future of choral singing for children by expanding access from inner-city to elite schools and redefining the artistic and expressive boundaries of the youth choir.


Sarah Otto University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC, Age: 43 Evolutionary Geneticist addressing fundamental questions of population and evolutionary biology, such as why some species reproduce sexually and why some species carry more than one copy of each gene.


Dafnis Prieto
New York, NY
Age: 37

Jazz Percussionist and Composer electrifying audiences with dazzling technical abilities and rhythmically adventurous compositions while infusing Latin jazz with a bold new energy and sound.



Kay Ryan Fairfax, CA, Age: 65 Poet composing deceptively simple verse of wisdom and elegance, grounded in explorations of familiar ideas and experiences, and surprising us with the possibilities of the medium.

Melanie Sanford University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, Age: 36 Organometallic Chemist reigniting research on an important chemical pathway and developing methods to enable modification of complex molecules with important implications for pharmaceuticals and other products we use everyday.


Yukiko Yamashita
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, MI
Age: 39

Developmental Biologist unraveling the complex molecular choreography of stem cell division and investigating how factors such as aging affect the capacity of stem cells to replace specialized cells that are injured, infected, or wear out.



William Seeley University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, Age: 39 Neuropathologist integrating microscopy, magnetic resonance imaging, and clinical examination to identify the mechanisms underlying frontotemporal dementia, track disease progression, and create effective therapeutic interventions.

Jacob Soll Rutgers University, Camden, Camden, NJ, Age: 42 European Historian exploring the development of political thought and criticism in early modern Europe and shedding new light on the origins of the modern state.

A. E. Stallings Athens, Greece, Age: 43 Poet and Translator mining the classical world and traditional poetic techniques to craft imaginative explorations of contemporary life that evoke startling insights about antiquity’s relevance for today.

Ubaldo Vitali Ubaldo Vitali, Inc., Maplewood, NJ, Age: 67 Conservator and Silversmith drawing on deep knowledge of past and modern metalworking techniques and rigorous scholarship to restore historical masterworks and to create original works of art.

Alisa Weilerstein New York, NY, Age: 29 Cellist combining technical precision with impassioned musicianship in performances of both traditional and contemporary music and expanding the cello repertoire through collaborations with leading composers.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/09/radiolabs_jad_abumrad_and_harvard_economist_roland_fryer_named_macarthur_genius_recipients.html


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