Home / News / This year’s MacArthur Foundation fellowships, so-called ‘genius grants’, announced

This year’s MacArthur Foundation fellowships, so-called ‘genius grants’, announced

There are a few professors, a few writers, and a hydroclimatologist across the country who today feel happy, proud, financially stable, and perhaps optimistic about their future. That’s because they are one of 20 people named as 2023 fellowship recipients from the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation.

These scholarships, officially announced on Wednesday, consist of $800,000 in prize money delivered in five yearly installments of $160,000, with no strings attached. Buy a car? Certainly. Are you going to buy a house? To continue. A trip to Europe, Asia or Africa? Your plane is waiting.

Many have and will use this unexpected opportunity to fund further research and creative pursuits. This isn’t like winning the lottery. The foundation states that elections are “not a reward for past success, but rather an investment in one’s originality, insight, and potential.” Of course, the foundation hopes that the money will be used by recipients “for financial freedom that will allow them to pursue their most innovative ideas and thereby enrich the planet.”

What a hopeful, empowering idea.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation was founded in 1970 by an insurance millionaire and his wife. One of the largest private foundations in the country, it has donated billions of dollars for decades to a wide range of nonprofit organizations around the world. One of the most notable in this area was its recent financial backing of a partnership between WBEZ and the Sun-Times through the acquisition of the paper by Chicago Public Media.

His most public endeavor, scholarships, enjoys considerable prestige.

This is because from the first award presentation in 1981, the press began calling the scholarships “genius scholarships” and the award recipients “geniuses.”

Many of them came from this region. One of last year’s recipients was jazz cellist, composer and improviser Tomeka Reid, then 44; The MacArthurians described it as “creating a unique jazz sound that draws from diverse musical traditions.” He told me, “(This) will be very helpful. “It will give me time to do many things, realize the projects I think about and have creative freedom.”

This year, there is only one buyer from the Chicago area; Rina Foygel Barber, the 40-year-old Louis Block Professor of Statistics at the University of Chicago, said she has “developed tools to reduce false positives and increase confidence.” high-dimensional data models.”

This year’s 2023 MacArthur Fellows are spread across the country. In addition to Barber, in alphabetical order:

E. Tendayi AchievementLos Angeles, 41: University of California legal scholar focusing on immigration and human rights, “reshaping fundamental concepts of international law at the intersection of racial justice and global migration.”

Andrea ArmstrongNew Orleans, 48: “Brings transparency to detention policies, isolation conditions and deaths in U.S. prisons and jails,” says incarceration law expert at Loyola University New Orleans.

Ian BassinWashington, D.C., 47: Attorney and chief executive of Protecting Democracy, an organization he co-founded in 2016 that “works to strengthen the structures, norms, and institutions that make the United States a democracy.”

Courtney BryanNew Orleans, 41: Composer and pianist affiliated with Tulane University “combines elements of jazz, classical and sacred music in works that reflect social and political issues.”

Jason D. BuenrostroCambridge, Massachusetts, 35: Cellular and molecular biologist in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University “develops methods and technologies that advance our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate gene expression.”

María Magdalena Campos-PonsNashville, 64: Multidisciplinary artist from Vanderbilt University “explores personal and collective histories in the Caribbean with a distinctive and expansive visual style.”

Raven ChaconRed Hook, New York, 45: Composer and artist “creates musical works that transcend the boundaries of visual art and performance to illuminate landscapes, their inhabitants, and their histories.”

Diana Greene FosterSan Francisco, 52: Demographer and reproductive health researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who “explores how reproductive health policies and access impact individuals’ physical, mental, and socioeconomic well-being.”

Lucy HutyraBoston, 47: Environmental ecologist in the Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, “explores the effects of urbanization on environmental carbon cycle dynamics.”

Carolyn LazardPhiladelphia, 36: Working in 3D visual art and moving images, the artist “explores the aesthetic dimensions of disability and uses accessibility as a creative tool for collective practices of care.”

Island LimonLexington, Kentucky, 47: The poet, whose most recent book is “The Hurting Kind” (2022), works to “balance grief with wonder in works that increase our awareness of the natural world and our connections with each other.”

Lester MackeyCambridge, Massachusetts, 38: Computer scientist and statistician “pioneering statistical and machine learning techniques to solve data science problems in real-world relevance.”

Father PatrickSan Francisco, 62: Kumu hula (master teacher) and cultural preservationist “blends traditional hula with contemporary music and movements and brings Hawaiian culture and history to life.”

Linsey MarrBlacksburg, Virginia, 48: Environmental engineer in Virginia Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, “studies indoor and outdoor air quality and the airborne spread of infectious bioaerosols.”

Manuel Munoz, Tucson, Arizona, 51: Fiction writer affiliated with the University of Arizona, “portrays Mexican American communities in California’s Central Valley with empathy and nuance.” His latest collection is “Consequences” (2022).

Imani PerryCambridge, Massachusetts, 51: Interdisciplinary scholar and author at Harvard University, “gives new context to the history and cultural expressions of black Americans in the face of injustice.”

Dyani White HawkShakopee, Minnesota, 46: Sičáŋǧu Lakota multidisciplinary artist who works in visual arts and moving images, “illuminates the enduring power, presence, and influence of Indigenous artistic practices in modern and contemporary art.”

A. Park WilliamsLos Angeles, 42: Hydroclimatologist at the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Geography, “uncovers new insights into how climate change affects drought, wildfires and tree mortality.”

Amber WutichTempe, Ariz., 45: Arizona State University anthropologist “documents the impact of water insecurity on human well-being and the social infrastructure communities use to cope with inadequate water.”

rkogan@chicagotribune.com

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