October 4, 2018 - 8:33 PM EDT
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MacArthur Foundation announces 'genius grant' recipients

Oct. 4 (UPI) --

A composer, a pastor, a computer scientist and a health economist were among those selected for the 2018 MacArthur Fellows Program.

The MacArthur Foundation announced the 25 recipients of its so-called genius grants, a no strings attached award including a stipend of $625,000 paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years, intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their interests.

Working in diverse fields, from the arts and sciences to public health and civil liberties, these 25 MacArthur Fellows are solving longstanding scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities. Their exceptional creativity inspires hope in us all, said Cecilia A. Conrad, a managing director of the foundation and the leader of the fellows program.

The fellows include 15 women and 10 men and they range in age from 28 to 60. They include the following people, as described by the foundation:

-- Matthew Aucoin, 28, a pianist, writer, conductor and composer blending sound and language to communicate the nuances, ambiguities, and multiple meanings of texts in musical form.

-- Julie Ault, 60, an artist and curator exploring how art shapes and is shaped by the political, social, economic, and aesthetic circumstances of a given moment.

-- William J. Barber II, 55, a pastor and social justice advocate building a broad-based grassroots movement grounded in the moral tenets of faith-based communities and the United States Constitution to confront racial and economic inequalities in America today.

-- Clifford Brangwynne, 40, a biophysical engineer whose research focuses on the less well-understood membraneless organelles -- loose assemblies of proteins and nucleic acids that are not enveloped by a lipid membrane.

-- Natalie Diaz, 40, a poet connecting her own experiences as a Mojave American and Latina woman to cultural and mythological touchstones in order to create a personal mythology that conveys the oppression and violence that continue to afflict Indigenous Americans.

-- Livia S. Eberlin, 32, an analytical chemist developing innovative mass spectrometry technologies for more efficient and accurate clinical diagnosis and surgical treatment of cancer.

-- Deborah Estrin, 58, a computer scientist creating open-source applications and platforms that leverage mobile computing devices and network services to address socio-technological challenges.

-- Amy Finkelstein, 44, a health economist investigating the ways in which health care policy affects health, health care, and well-being.

-- Gregg Gonsalves, 54, an epidemiologist and global health advocate integrating his experiences as a community activist with quantitative analysis and operations research to improve responses to global public health challenges.

-- Vijay Gupta, 31, a violinist and social justice advocate providing musical enrichment and valuable human connection to the homeless, incarcerated, and other under-resourced communities in Los Angeles.

-- Becca Heller, 36, a human rights lawyer mobilizing the resources of law schools and law firms to defend the rights of refugees and improve protection outcomes for many of the world's most at-risk population.

-- Raj Jayadev, 43, a community organizer creating a model of grassroots collective action that gives individuals facing incarceration, their families, and their communities an active role in their defense.

-- Titus Kaphar, 42, an artist whose paintings, sculptures, and installations explore the intersection of art, history, and civic agency.

-- John Keene, 53, a fiction writer exploring the ways in which historical narratives shape contemporary lives while simultaneously re-envisioning these narratives from the perspectives of those whose voices have been suppressed.

-- Kelly Link, 49, a short story writer pushing the boundaries of literary fiction in works that draw on genres such as fantasy, science fiction, and horror while also engaging fully with the concerns and emotional realism of contemporary life.

-- Dominique Morisseau, 40, a playwright whose works portray the lives of individuals and communities grappling with economic and social changes, both current and historical.

-- Okwui Okpokwasili, 46, a performer, choreographer, and writer creating multidisciplinary performance pieces that draw viewers into the interior lives of women of color, particularly those of African and African American women, whose stories have long been overlooked and rendered invisible.

-- Kristina Olson, 37, a psychologist shedding light on the social and cognitive development of transgender and gender-nonconforming youth, an increasingly visible population that has been largely overlooked by prior scientific research.

-- Lisa Parks, 51, a media scholar exploring the global reach of information technology infrastructures­ -- such as satellites, internet cables, power poles, and drones -- and their cultural, political, and humanitarian implications.

-- Rebecca Sandefur, 47, a sociologist whose research on how legal services are delivered and consumed is informing emerging models for more equal access to civil justice.

-- Allan Sly, 36, a mathematician and probability theorist resolving long-standing open problems in statistical physics and theoretical computer science.

-- Sarah T. Stewart, 45, a planetary scientist shedding light on planet formation and evolution.

-- Wu Tsang, 36, a filmmaker and performance artist who combines documentary and narrative techniques with fantastical detours into the imaginary in works that explore hidden histories, marginalized narratives, and the act of performing itself.

-- Doris Tsao, 42, a neuroscientist who uses brain imaging technology, electrical recording techniques, and mathematical modeling.

-- Ken Ward Jr., 50, an investigative journalist whose in-depth coverage of the coal, chemical and natural gas industries in West Virginia is exposing the true economic, social, and health impacts of industrial abuse on Appalachian residents and communities.

Source: United Press International (October 4, 2018 - 8:33 PM EDT)

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