Nine Women in the Latest Cohort of 24 MacArthur Fellows

The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation has announced the selection of 24 individuals in this year’s class of MacArthur Fellows. The honors, frequently referred to as the “Genius Awards,” include a $625,000 stipend over the next five years which the individuals can use as they see fit.

Fellows are chosen for their “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.” The goal of the awards is to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations” without the burden of having to worry about their financial situation.

This year, nine of the 24 MacArthur Fellows are women.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Annie Baker and Regina Barzilay

Njideka Akunyili Crosby is native of Nigeria but now lives in the United States. She is a painter whose large-scale works often include figures, sometime family members, situated in domestic settings. She has taught at the California Institute of the Arts , the Maryland Institute College of Art , and Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Crosby is a graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a master of fine arts degree from Yale University.

Annie Baker is a playwright exploring the complexities of human behavior. In several plays set in Shirley, Vermont — a fictional small town — Baker creates seemingly simple stories about ordinary, working-class people facing familiar predicaments. Baker is a master-artist-in-residence and co-associate chair in the master of fine arts playwriting program at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She is graduate of New York University and holds a master of arts degree from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

Regina Barzilay is the Delta Electronics Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined the faculty at MIT in 2003. Currently, Barzilay is focused on bringing the power of machine learning to oncology. Dr. Barzilay holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Rhiannon Giddens, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Cristina Jiménez Moreta

Rhiannon Giddens is a singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter from Greensboro, North Carolina. She trained as an opera singer before returning to North Carolina to immerse herself in traditional American roots music. Giddens is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an investigative journalist for The New York Times chronicling the  persistence of segregation in American society, particularly in education. In 2015, she co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting with the goal of increasing the number of reporters and editors of color. Hannah-Jones is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and holds a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cristina Jiménez Moreta is an organizer and immigration reform advocate. Jiménez arrived in the United States from Ecuador as an undocumented immigrant at the age of 13. She is a co-founder and executive director of United We Dream, a nationwide network of affiliated groups, organizations, and individuals focused on addressing the needs of immigrant youth and families. Jiménez holds a bachelor’s degree from Queens College of the City University of New York and a master of public administration degree from Baruch College of the City University of New York.

Kate Orff, Betsy Levy Paluck and Jesmyn Ward

Kate Orff is a landscape architect. She is a founding principal of SCAPE, a landscape architecture and urban design studio. Orff’s work ranges from large-scale coastal infrastructure initiatives to the design of city parks, as well as book-length publications, museum exhibitions, and self-guided podcast tours that invite city dwellers to explore the natural histories of their regions. She is an associate professor and director of the Urban Design Program in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University. Orff is a graduate of the the University of Virginia and holds a master of landscape architecture degree from Harvard University.

Betsy Levy Paluck is a professor of psychology and public affairs and deputy director of the Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Policy at Princeton University in New Jersey. Her research has focused on strategies for reducing patterns of discrimination, bullying, and ethnic conflict in contexts ranging from American high schools to post-conflict Rwanda. Dr. Paluck holds a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. from Yale University.

Jesmyn Ward is an associate professor of English at Tulane University in New Orleans. Ward won the National Book Award in 2011 for her novel Salvage the Bones and again in 2017 for her book Sing, Unburied Sing (Scribner, 2017). She is the only woman to win two National Book Awards. Before joining the faculty at Tulane University in 2014, Ward was an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama. Ward holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Michigan.

Photos © John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation – used with permission.

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