Meet the 2015 MacArthur Fellows

These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.

  • Profile portrait of Patrick Awuah

    Patrick Awuah

    Education Entrepreneur

    Creating a new model for higher education in Africa that combines training in ethical leadership, a liberal arts tradition, and skills for contemporary African needs and opportunities.

  • Profile portrait of Kartik Chandran

    Kartik Chandran

    Environmental Engineer

    Transforming wastewater from a pollutant requiring disposal to a resource for useful products, such as commodity chemicals, energy sources, and fertilizers.

  • Profile portrait of Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates


    Interpreting complex and challenging issues around race and racism through the lens of personal experience and nuanced historical analysis.

  • Profile portrait of Gary Cohen

    Gary Cohen

    Environmental Health Advocate

    Spurring environmental responsibility among health care providers and repositioning health care institutional practice around the broader challenges of sustainability, climate change, and community health.

  • Profile portrait of Matthew Desmond

    Matthew Desmond

    Urban Sociologist

    Revealing the impact of eviction on poor families and the role of housing policy in sustaining poverty and racial inequality in large American cities.

  • Profile portrait of William Dichtel

    William Dichtel


    Pioneering the assembly of molecules into stable, high surface-area networks with potential applications in electronic, optical, and energy storage devices.

  • Profile portrait of Michelle Dorrance

    Michelle Dorrance

    Tap Dancer and Choreographer

    Reinvigorating a uniquely American dance form in works that combine the musicality of tap with the choreographic intricacies of contemporary dance.

  • Profile portrait of Nicole Eisenman

    Nicole Eisenman


    Expanding the expressive potential of the figurative tradition in works that engage contemporary social issues and restore cultural significance to the representation of the human form.

  • Profile portrait of LaToya Ruby Frazier

    LaToya Ruby Frazier

    Photographer and Video Artist

    Capturing the consequences of postindustrial decline for marginalized communities and illustrating how photography can promote dialogue about historical change and social responsibility.

  • Profile portrait of Ben Lerner

    Ben Lerner


    Transcending conventional distinctions of genre and style in works that convey the texture of our contemporary moment and explore the relevance of art and the artist in modern culture.

  • Profile portrait of Mimi Lien

    Mimi Lien

    Set Designer

    Translating a text’s narrative and emotional dynamics onto the stage in bold, immersive sets that enhance the performance experience for theater makers and viewers alike.

  • Profile portrait of Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Playwright, Composer, and Performer

    Expanding the conventions of musical theater with a popular culture sensibility and musical styles and voices that reflect the diverse cultural panorama of the American urban experience.

  • Profile portrait of Dimitri Nakassis

    Dimitri Nakassis


    Challenging long-held assumptions about modes of economic exchange and political authority in prehistoric Greek societies and revealing their connections to the origins of modern civilization.

  • Profile portrait of John Novembre

    John Novembre

    Computational Biologist

    Shedding new light on the links between geography and genomic diversity and producing a more finely grained picture of human evolutionary history.

  • Profile portrait of Christopher Ré

    Christopher Ré

    Computer Scientist

    Democratizing big data analytics through open source data-processing products that have the power of machine learning algorithms but can be integrated into existing and applied database systems.

  • Profile portrait of Marina Rustow

    Marina Rustow


    Mining textual materials from the Cairo Geniza to deepen our understanding of medieval Muslim and Jewish communities.

  • Profile portrait of Juan Salgado

    Juan Salgado

    Community Leader

    Creating a model for workforce development and training among immigrant communities through a holistic approach that addresses language skills, education, and other barriers to entering the workforce.

  • Profile portrait of Beth Stevens

    Beth Stevens


    Revealing the heretofore unknown role of microglial cells in neuron communication and prompting a fundamental shift in thinking about brain development in both healthy and unhealthy states.

  • Profile portrait of Lorenz Studer

    Lorenz Studer

    Stem Cell Biologist

    Pioneering a new method for large-scale generation of dopaminergic neurons that could provide one of the first treatments for Parkinson’s disease and prove the broader feasibility of stem cell–based therapies for other neurological disorders.

  • Profile portrait of Alex Truesdell

    Alex Truesdell

    Adaptive Designer and Fabricator

    Constructing low-tech, affordable, and customized tools and furniture that enable children with disabilities to participate actively in their homes, schools, and communities.

  • Profile portrait of Basil Twist

    Basil Twist

    Puppetry Artist and Director

    Revitalizing puppetry as a serious and sophisticated art form in imaginative experiments with its materials, techniques, and uses in both narrative and abstract works.

  • Profile portrait of Ellen Bryant Voigt

    Ellen Bryant Voigt


    Meditating on will and fate and the life cycles of the natural world through a distinctive intermingling of lyric and narrative modes and ongoing experimentation with form and technique.

  • Profile portrait of Heidi Williams

    Heidi Williams


    Unraveling the forces that hinder or spur medical innovation through empirically based studies that are informing public policy.

  • Profile portrait of Peidong Yang

    Peidong Yang

    Inorganic Chemist

    Opening new horizons for tackling the global challenge of clean, renewable energy sources through transformative advances in the science of semiconductor nanowires and nanowire photonics.

Artists Selected for Fellows 40th Anniversary Exhibition thumbnail

Artists Selected for Fellows 40th Anniversary Exhibition

The Smart Museum of Art has announced 28 MacArthur Fellow artists who will take part in Toward Common Cause, an exhibition to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows program.
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