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‘Genius’ Fellows Have Strong Ties to Academe

September 29, 2021

Among the 25 MacArthur “genius” fellows announced yesterday, a significant share have ties to academe. They are:​

  • Music critic, essayist and poet Hanif Abdurraqib, Booth Tarkington Writer-in-Residence at Butler University, who forges a distinctive style of cultural and artistic criticism through the lens of popular music and autobiography.
  • Writer and radio producer Daniel Alarcón, assistant professor at the Columbia Journalism School, who chronicles the social and cultural ties that connect Spanish-speaking communities across America.
  • Physician-economist Marcella Alsan, professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, who investigates the role that legacies of discrimination and the resulting mistrust play in perpetuating racial disparities in health.
  • Poet and lawyer Reginald Dwayne Betts, a former professor at Middlesex Community College, Emerson College and Bunker Hill Community College and presently a doctoral candidate at Yale Law School, who promotes the humanity and rights of individuals who are or have been incarcerated. 
  • Poet and translator Don Mee Choi, instructor at Renton Technical College in Seattle, who bears witness to the effects of military violence and U.S. imperialism on the civilians of the Korean Peninsula.
  • Biological physicist Ibrahim Cissé, the Class of 1922 Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who develops microscopy tools to investigate genetic regulation and misfunction.
  • Art historian and curator Nicole Fleetwood, James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture and Communication in the Steinhardt School at New York University, who elucidates the cultural and aesthetic significance of visual art created by incarcerated people.
  • American historian and writer Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, who advances conversations around anti-Black racism and the possibilities for repair.
  • Sculptor and painter Daniel Lind-Ramos, professor of arts and humanities at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, who transforms everyday objects into works that speak to the global connections inherent in Afro-Caribbean and diaspora legacies.
  • Public historian Monica Muñoz Martinez, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, who brings to light long-obscured cases of racial violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Neuroscientist and neuro-oncologist Michelle Monje, associate professor of neurology at Stanford University, who advances the understanding of pediatric brain cancers and the neurological effects of cancer treatments with an eye toward improved therapies.
  • Internet studies and digital media scholar Safiya Noble, associate professor of both African American studies and information studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, who highlights the ways digital technologies and internet architectures magnify racism, sexism and harmful stereotypes.
  • Geomorphologist Taylor Perron, professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at MIT, who unravels the mechanisms that create landforms on Earth and other planets.
  • Landscape ecologist Lisa Schulte Moore, professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State University, who implements locally relevant approaches to build soil, improve water quality, protect biodiversity and strengthen crop resilience.
  • Applied microeconomist Jesse Shapiro, Eastman Professor of Political Economy at Brown University, who devises new frameworks of analysis to advance understanding of media bias, ideological polarization and the efficacy of public policy interventions.
  • Film scholar, archivist and curator Jacqueline Stewart, cinema and media studies professor at the University of Chicago, who ensures that the contributions of overlooked Black filmmakers and communities of spectators have a place in the public imagination.
  • Historian and writer Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, professor of African American studies at Princeton University, who analyzes the political and economic forces underlying racial inequality and the role of social movements in transforming society.
  • Microbiologist Victor J. Torres, C. V. Starr Professor of Microbiology at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, who investigates how bacterial pathogens overcome the immune system and identifies potential therapies.
  • Choreographer and dance entrepreneur Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, professor of dance at Florida State University, who uses the power of dance and artistic expression to celebrate the voices of Black women and promote civic engagement and community organizing.

(This list has been updated to correct oversights.)

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