Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Genius Awards

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, aka the MacArthur Foundation, has announced the winners of this year's fellowships -- 25 in all. These fellowships, also referred to in the popular media as the 'genius' awards, come with "$500,000 [each] in 'no strings attached' support over the next five years". As the overview page puts it:

[...] the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.

This year's list has a fairly big group of academics in many fields (computer science, history, ...), together with a painter, a fisherman, a music conductor, and so on.

Read this section about the nomination process used by the Foundation to learn more about this very quirky (and charming, and lucrative, and ...) award.

Jim Collins, a Boston University professor, wrote this NYTimes op-ed two days ago recounting how his life changed -- in interesting ways -- after winning the genius award two years ago.