MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2011

Jad Abumrad

Radio Host and Producer

WNYC Radio

New York, NY

Age: 38

Published September 20, 2011

Jad Abumrad is a radio host and producer whose engaging audio explorations of scientific and philosophical questions captivate listeners and bring to broadcast journalism a distinctive new aesthetic. As co-host and producer of the nationally syndicated program Radiolab, Abumrad employs his background as a composer to orchestrate dialogue, music, and sound effects into compelling documentaries that draw listeners into investigations of otherwise intimidating topics, such as the nature of numbers, the evolution of altruism, or the science of emergent phenomena within ant colonies and other complex systems. As a result of his meticulous editing and conversational approach to interviews with experts, the structure of Radiolab episodes often mimics the scientific process itself, complete with moments of ambiguity, digressions, reversals, and surprising conclusions that evoke in audiences a sense of adventure and recreate the thrill of discovery. One humor- and insight-filled segment, entitled “A Very Lucky Wind,” tackles the subject of stochasticity, or the mathematics of randomness, by following the highly improbable route of a drifting balloon across the south of England. Another episode, “Cities,” examines a formula for predicting the demographic characteristics of cities around the globe by gathering evidence from participants in Dublin, Mumbai, Mexico City, and beyond. With these and many other Radiolab shows, accessible as radio broadcasts and as podcasts, Abumrad is inspiring boundless curiosity within a new generation of listeners and experimenting with sound to find ever more effective and entertaining ways to explain ideas and tell a story.

Jad Abumrad received a B.A. (1995) from Oberlin College. He has reported and produced documentaries on a variety of subjects for such public radio programs as All Things Considered and On the Media. Since 2005, he has served as producer and co-host of Radiolab.


High-resolution photos for download. Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY. Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.

Jad Abumrad In the Media

#MacFellow @Medieval_Things argues that the fall of Rome increased life expectancy in Britain:

"'Radiolab' Host Jad Abumrad talks 'Gut Churn' in Durham" thumbnail

"'Radiolab' Host Jad Abumrad talks 'Gut Churn' in Durham"

The News & Observer
Jad Abumrad, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
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"This Alien Life"  thumbnail

"This Alien Life"

Colorado Springs Independent
Jad Abumrad, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
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"NPR’s Jad Abumrad Brings His Creative Fears Center Stage" thumbnail

"NPR’s Jad Abumrad Brings His Creative Fears Center Stage"

San Francisco Chronicle
Jad Abumrad, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
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"Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich" thumbnail

"Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich"

The Colbert Report
Jad Abumrad, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
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"Radiolab's Jad Abumrad on Storytelling with Sound" thumbnail

"Radiolab's Jad Abumrad on Storytelling with Sound"

Fast Company
Jad Abumrad, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
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About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

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Working across a broad spectrum of endeavors, the Fellows were selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future. Read More