24 geniuses just won $625,000 to spend however they want

Michelle DorranceMacArthur FoundationMichelle Dorrance, a tap dancer and choreographer, is among 24 people selected as 24 people selected as 2015 MacArthur Fellows.

The names of 24 MacArthur Fellows were announced early Tuesday. These people will receive $US625,000 (£411,000), paid out over five years, to spend any way he or she wants. ;

The so-called “genius awards” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have been handed out to around two dozen Americans from all different fields every year since 1981.

The money is intended to give recipients the freedom to pursue new ideas or move forward with their current work.

Individuals can’t apply for the awards. The fellows are chosen by an anonymous panel of experts, who inform the winners through a phone call just a couple days before the official announcement.

This year, the fellows range in age from 33 to 72. They include a journalist, a neuroscientist, a painter, and a tap dancer, among others.

You can find more information about the 2015 MacArthur Fellows class here.

Here’s the full list of winners:

  • Patrick Awuah, 50,education entrepreneur creating a new model for higher education in Africa that combines training in ethical leadership, a liberal arts tradition, and skills for contemporary African needs and opportunities.
  • Kartik Chandran, 41, environmental engineer transforming wastewater from a pollutant requiring disposal to a resource for useful products, such as commodity chemicals, energy sources, and fertilisers.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, 39, journalist interpreting complex and challenging issues around race and racism through the lens of personal experience and nuanced historical analysis.
  • Gary Cohen, 59, environmental and health advocate spurring environmental responsibility among health care providers and repositioning health care institutional practice around the broader challenges of sustainability, climate change, and community health.
  • Matthew Desmond, 35, urban sociologist revealing the impact of eviction on poor families and the role of housing policy in sustaining poverty and racial inequality in large American cities.
  • William Dichtel, 37, chemist pioneering the assembly of molecules into stable, high surface-area networks with potential applications in electronic, optical, and energy storage devices. >
  • Michelle Dorrance, 36, tap dancer and choreographer reinvigorating a uniquely American dance form in works that combine the musicality of tap with the choreographic intricacies of contemporary dance.
  • Nicole Eisenman, 50, painter expanding the expressive potential of the figurative tradition in works that engage contemporary social issues and restore cultural significance to the representation of the human form.
  • LaToya Ruby Frazier, 33, photographer and video artist capturing the consequences of postindustrial decline for marginalized communities and illustrating how photography can promote dialogue about historical change and social responsibility.
  • Ben Lerner, 36, writer transcending conventional distinctions of genre and style in works that convey the texture of our contemporary moment and explore the relevance of art and the artist in modern culture.
  • Mimi Lien, 39, set designer translating a text’s narrative and emotional dynamics onto the stage in bold, immersive sets that enhance the performance experience for theatre makers and viewers alike. –
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, 35, playwright, composer, and performer expanding the conventions of musical theatre with a popular culture sensibility and musical styles and voices that reflect the diverse cultural panorama of the American urban experience.
  • Dimitri Nakassis, 40, classicist challenging long-held assumptions about modes of economic exchange and political authority in prehistoric Greek societies and revealing their connections to the origins of modern civilisation.
  • John Novembre, 37, computational biologist shedding new light on the links between geography and genomic diversity and producing a more finely grained picture of human evolutionary history.
  • Christopher Ré, 36, computer scientist democratizing big data analytics through open source data-processing products that have the power of machine learning algorithms but can be integrated into existing and applied database systems.
  • Marina Rustow, 46, historian mining textual materials from the Cairo Geniza to deepen our understanding of medieval Muslim and Jewish communities.
  • Juan Salgado, 46, community leader creating a model for workforce development and training among immigrant communities through a holistic approach that addresses language skills, education, and other barriers to entering the workforce
  • Beth Stevens, 45, neuroscientist revealing the heretofore unknown role of microglial cells in neuron communication and prompting a fundamental shift in thinking about brain development in both healthy and unhealthy states.
  • Lorenz Studer, 49, stem cell biologist pioneering a new method for large-scale generation of dopaminergic neurons that could provide one of the first treatments for Parkinson’s disease and prove the broader feasibility of stem cell — based therapies for other neurological disorders.
  • Alex Truesdell, 59, adaptive designer and fabricator constructing low-tech, affordable, and customised tools and furniture that enable children with disabilities to participate actively in their homes, schools, and communities.
  • Basil Twist, 46, p uppetry artist and director revitalizing puppetry as a serious and sophisticated art form in imaginative experiments with its materials, techniques, and uses in both narrative and abstract works.
  • Ellen Bryant Voigt, 72, poet meditating on will and fate and the life cycles of the natural world through a distinctive intermingling of lyric and narrative modes and ongoing experimentation with form and technique.
  • Heidi Williams, 34, economist unravelling the forces that hinder or spur medical innovation through empirically based studies that are informing public policy.
  • Peidong Yang, 44, inorganic chemist opening new horizons for tackling the global challenge of clean, renewable energy sources through transformative advances in the science of semiconductor nanowires and nanowire photonics.

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