The MacArthur Foundation today announced the latest members of its annual MacArthur Fellows Program, who will soon receive the foundation´s famous $500,000 no-strings-attached award, commonly known as the “genius grant.” As always, this year´s winners include musicians, writers, painters, historians and educators. But science and technology-accounting for 11 of the 24 members–is the largest field by far.
The existence of something called a genius grant is in itself kind of amazing, notwithstanding the incredible achievements of the winners. Not only is the work of the honorees officially stamped with the ultimate intellectual superlative, but on top of that, the new geniuses (who don’t even know they’re in the running until they´re announced as winners) will also receive a surprise half-million dollars to use however they wish. (Think of the possibilities!)
Founded by fabulously wealthy bankers and all-around do-gooders John and Catherine MacArthur in 1978, the foundation is one of the 10 largest private philanthropies in the U.S., awarding upward of $225 million a year in grants and low-interest loans. Their “geniuses” are identified annually as those pushing the boundaries of creativity in any field.
We are especially proud to announce that one of the new geniuses, roboticist Yoky Matsuoka, was also identified as one of this year’s PopSci Brilliant 10, which will soon be announced in our November issue. For a sneak peak at Yoky’s entry in the list, click here.
Launch the gallery here to get acquainted with the new class of MacArthur sci-tech geniuses, all of whom it´s safe to guess are currently having a pretty good day.