Every year, the MacArthur Foundation selects a class of Fellows — we call them “Geniuses” — for their work that benefits society, whether it be writing plays or investigating nanomaterials.
Each Fellow receives $US625,000 to support and further their work.
“The fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their own artistic, intellectual, and professional activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements,” the foundation website says.
This year’s class has a diverse set of talents — from discovering the nature of prime numbers to educating public defenders — and ages, ranging from 32 to 71 years old.
See the full list of winners here, and read on to find out how they’re changing the world.
Bassett's research has used breakthroughs in network science -- which studies how people affect one another -- to gain a deeper understanding of how brain regions communicate.
Alison Bechdel makes incredible graphic novels that explore the nature of the family, like her 2006 breakout 'Fun Home.'
Mary L. Bonauto is a civil rights lawyer fighting for equal legal treatment for any sexual orientation or gender identity.
Bonauto has won cases that have changed gay-exclusionary laws for over 15 years, and she continues to serve as the Civil Rights Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.
City: Urbana, Illinois
Bond has dedicated her life to understanding something most of us avoid: black carbon emissions, or soot. Her research is laying the groundwork for the cleaning up our cities' air.
City: Allentown, Penn.
Coleman is a pioneer in one of the most pioneering forms of music: jazz. His 2013 album 'Functional Arrhythmias' drew inspiration from the sounds of the human body, and he also cofounded a musician mentorship program.
Jennifer L. Eberhardt is a Stanford social psychologist investigating how people racially code one another.
City: Stanford, Calif.
Eberhardt's research dives into how people unconsciously categorize one another in social interactions. Her work is already being used by police forces to improve their police work.
Terrance Hayes is a University of Pittsburgh poet whose work plays in the constructs of race, gender, and family.
John Henneberger is a housing advocate who has helped making housing accessible in Texas and beyond.
City: Austin, Texas
Henneberger has spearheaded housing reform in Texas, helping shape the legal methods through which the state governments rebuilds after disasters. He also issued a challenge to architects to create cheaper, better housing than FEMA.
Mark Hersam is a Northwestern University materials scientist doing leading research into nanomaterials.
City: New York
Hunter has become one of America's leading young playwrights, creating drama that uses his small-town Idaho upbringing as a lens for understanding the country's social dynamics. He premiered three plays in the 2013-14 season: 'The Few,' 'Rest,' and 'A Great Wilderness.'
City: Washington, DC
Long's books -- 'Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance' and 'Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences, 1400 -- 1600' -- reveal the intricate relationships between writers, artisans, and scientists during the Renaissance.
Lowe is equal parts artist and community organiser. His 'Project Row Houses' turned rowhouses in a poor Houston neighbourhood into a community center and art space.
Joshua Oppenheimer is a documentary filmmaker tackling state-sponsored violence and other difficult topics.
City: Copenhagen, Denmark
Oppenheimer is one of the most influential documentarians alive. His 2012 film 'The Act of Killing' forced audiences to become familiar with state-sponsored massacres, while his other films have documented religious extremists and sci-fi fans.
City: New York
Poo led Domestic Workers United, an organisation of nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers, from 2000 to 2009. Her efforts help pass the 2010 New York Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, which entitled workers to overtime pay, a day off every week, and protection from discrimination.
Rapping saw that public advocates were being overloaded with cases and shortchanging on training, so he started an organisation to train young PAs. Founded in 2007, his Gideon's Promise program has over 300 participants in 15 states.
Tara Zahra is a University of Chicago professor who is enriching our understanding of modern European history, particularly through the lens of children.
Through her books 'Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900 -- 1948' and 'The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe's Families after World War II,' Zahra has written modern history from an oft-neglected vantage point: children.
Yitang Zhang is a University of New Hampshire mathematician who uncovered a new fundamental property of prime numbers.
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