MacArthur Fellows Program
Sponsored byJohn D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Date1981; 43 years ago (1981)
Websitehttps://www.macfound.org/programs/awards/fellows/

The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship and colloquially called the "Genius Grant",[a] is a prize awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to typically between 20 and 30 individuals working in any field who have shown "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction" and are citizens or residents of the United States.[5]

According to the foundation's website, "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishments but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential", but it also says such potential is "based on a track record of significant accomplishments". The current prize is $800,000 paid over five years in quarterly installments. Previously, it was $625,000. This figure was increased from $500,000 in 2013 with the release of a review[6] of the MacArthur Fellows Program. The award has been called "one of the most significant awards that is truly 'no strings attached'".[7]

The program does not accept applications. Anonymous and confidential nominations are invited by the foundation and reviewed by an anonymous and confidential selection committee of about a dozen people. The committee reviews all nominees and recommends recipients to the president and board of directors. Most new fellows first learn of their nomination and award upon receiving a congratulatory phone call. MacArthur Fellow Jim Collins described this experience in an editorial column of The New York Times.[3]

Marlies Carruth is the program's current director.[8]

Recipients

Since 1981, 1131 people have been named MacArthur Fellows,[9] ranging in age from 18 to 82.[10]

In the five broad categories defined by the foundation, the breakdown for recipient focus is as follows: Arts 336; Humanities 170; Public Issues 257; STEM 335; and Social Sciences 120.[9]

Of the 965 terminal degrees earned by 928 fellows during the period 1981 through 2018, 540 (56%) are doctorates, with the Ph.D. accounting for 514 (53.3%). Ivy league schools awarded 306 (31.7%) degrees to 300 (32.3%) fellows.[11][12]

Among the 1131 fellowship awards through the class of 2023, the following ten institutions have the most alumni fellows:[9][13][14]

Institution Fellows (1981–2023)[9]
Harvard/Radcliffe 188
Yale 95
Berkeley 78
Princeton 71
Columbia/Barnard 65
MIT 48
Stanford 41
Chicago 40
Cornell 38
Oxford 35

1981

Robert Penn Warren

1982

Frank Wilczek

1983

John Sayles

1984

Michael H. Freedman

1985

Marian Wright Edelman

1986

Jack Horner

1987

Robert Sapolsky

1988

Max Roach

1989

Errol Morris

1990

Paul Ehrlich

1991

Taylor Branch

1992

Stephen Schneider

1993

Amory Lovins

1994

Ornette Coleman

1995

Octavia Butler

1996

Anna Deavere Smith

1997

David Foster Wallace

1998

Tim Berners-Lee

1999

Alison Des Forges

2000

Cecilia Muñoz

2001

Lene Hau

2002

Colson Whitehead

2003

Jim Yong Kim

2004

C. D. Wright

2005

Jonathan Lethem

2006

Regina Carter

2007

Shen Wei

2008

Regina Benjamin

2009

Esther Duflo

2010

Annette Gordon-Reed

2011

Shwetak Patel

2012

Junot Díaz

2013

Tarell McCraney

2014

Alison Bechdel

2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates

2016

Claudia Rankine

2017

Jesmyn Ward

2018

Doris Tsao

2019

Lynda Barry

2020

Jacqueline Woodson

2021

Daniel Alarcón

2022

Space Environmentalist and Astrodynamicist
Moriba Jah

2023

E. Tendayi Achiume

Notes

  1. ^ The MacArthur Foundation does not use the term "genius" to describe its fellows and has asked the media to stop using it.[1][2][3][4]

References

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