Meet the 2012 MacArthur Fellows

  • Profile portrait of Natalia Almada

    Natalia Almada

    Documentary Filmmaker

    Capturing complex and nuanced views of Mexican history, politics, and culture in insightful and poetic works that affirm the potency of documentary film as both an art form and a tool for social change.

  • Profile portrait of Uta Barth

    Uta Barth

    Conceptual Photographer

    Exploring the nature of vision and the difference between how we see reality and how a camera records it in evocative, abstract compositions that focus attention on the act of looking and the process of perception.

  • Profile portrait of Claire Chase

    Claire Chase

    Arts Entrepreneur

    Forging a new model for the commissioning, recording, and live performance of classical music and opening new avenues of artistic expression for the twenty-first-century musician.

  • Profile portrait of Raj Chetty

    Raj Chetty

    Public Economist

    Elucidating key policy issues of our time in theoretical and empirical studies that refine our understanding of the impact of public finance on economic activity.

  • Profile portrait of Maria Chudnovsky

    Maria Chudnovsky


    Investigating the fundamental principles of graph theory and laying the conceptual foundations for deepening connections between graph theory and other major branches of mathematics, such as linear programming and geometry.

  • Profile portrait of Eric Coleman

    Eric Coleman


    Addressing system-wide deficiencies in patient transitions from hospitals to homes and other sites of care and improving the health outcomes of millions of older adults suffering from chronic illness.

  • Profile portrait of Junot Díaz

    Junot Díaz

    Fiction Writer

    Using raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle.

  • Profile portrait of David Finkel

    David Finkel


    Pushing beyond the constraints and conventions of traditional news writing to craft sustained narratives that heighten the reality of military service and sacrifice in the public consciousness.

  • Profile portrait of Olivier Guyon

    Olivier Guyon

    Optical Physicist and Astronomer

    Designing telescopes and other astronomical instrumentation that play a critical role in the search for Earth-like planets outside our solar system.

  • Profile portrait of Elissa Hallem

    Elissa Hallem


    Exploring the physiology and behavioral consequences of odor detection and chemoreception in invertebrates and identifying interventions that may eventually reduce the scourge of parasitic infections in humans.

  • Profile portrait of An-My Lê

    An-My Lê


    Approaching the subjects of war and landscape from new perspectives to create images that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction and are rich with layers of meaning.

  • Profile portrait of Sarkis Mazmanian

    Sarkis Mazmanian

    Medical Microbiologist

    Illuminating the complex interplay between microbes and the host immune system and the role certain bacteria may play in the development, or mitigation, of a broad range of human diseases.

  • Profile portrait of Dinaw Mengestu

    Dinaw Mengestu


    Enriching understanding of the little-explored world of the African diaspora in America in tales distilled from the experience of immigrants whose memories are seared by escape from violence in their homelands.

  • Profile portrait of Maurice Lim Miller

    Maurice Lim Miller

    Social Services Innovator

    Designing programs of mutual support and self-sufficiency that break the cycle of economic dependency for low-income families and build more resilient communities from the ground up.

  • Profile portrait of Dylan C. Penningroth

    Dylan C. Penningroth


    Unearthing evidence from widely scattered archives to shed light on shifting concepts of property ownership and kinship among African American slaves and their descendents following emancipation.

  • Profile portrait of Terry Plank

    Terry Plank


    Probing the usually invisible but remarkably powerful thermal and chemical forces deep below the Earth’s crust that drive the motion of tectonic plate collisions.

  • Profile portrait of Laura Poitras

    Laura Poitras

    Documentary Filmmaker

    Revealing the consequences of military conflict abroad in illuminating documentaries that portray the lives and intimate experiences of families and communities largely inaccessible to the American media.

  • Profile portrait of Nancy Rabalais

    Nancy Rabalais

    Marine Ecologist

    Documenting the environmental and economic consequences of hypoxic zones in the Gulf of Mexico and informing strategies for restoring the degraded waters of the Gulf and the Mississippi River basin.

  • Profile portrait of Benoît Rolland

    Benoît Rolland

    Stringed-Instrument Bow Maker

    Experimenting with new designs and materials to create violin, viola, and cello bows that rival the quality of prized nineteenth-century bows and meet the artistic demands of today’s musicians.

  • Profile portrait of Daniel Spielman

    Daniel Spielman

    Computer Scientist

    Connecting theoretical and applied computing to resolve issues in code optimization theory with implications for how we measure, predict, and regulate our environment and behavior.

  • Profile portrait of Melody Swartz

    Melody Swartz


    Bioengineer enhancing understanding of the dynamic processes of tissue vascularization and immune responses to tumor invasion using a large toolbox of concepts and methods from biophysics, cell culture, molecular genetics, engineering, and immunology.

  • Profile portrait of Chris Thile

    Chris Thile

    Mandolinist and Composer

    Creating a new musical aesthetic and a distinctly American canon for the mandolin through a lyrical fusion of traditional bluegrass orchestrations with a range of styles and genres.

  • Profile portrait of Benjamin Warf

    Benjamin Warf

    Pediatric Neurosurgeon

    Revolutionizing treatment of hydrocephalus and other intra-cranial diseases in very young children and advancing standards of and access to health care in both the developed and poorest regions of the world.

23 MacArthur Fellows Announced thumbnail

23 MacArthur Fellows Announced

MacArthur named 23 new MacArthur Fellows for 2012. Working across a broad spectrum of endeavors, the Fellows include a pediatric neurosurgeon, a marine ecologist, a journalist, a photographer, an optical physicist and astronomer, a stringed-instrument bow ...
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