25 MacArthur Fellows Announced Today
September 20, 2005 | Press Release | MacArthur Fellows

MacArthur Foundation today named 25 new MacArthur Fellows for 2005. Each received a phone call from the Foundation this week informing them that they will be given $500,000 in "no strings attached" support over the next five years.

MacArthur Fellows are selected for their creativity, originality, and potential. By providing resources without stipulations or reporting requirements, the MacArthur Foundation offers the opportunity for Fellows to accelerate their current activities or take their work in new directions. The unusual level of independence afforded to the Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors.

"The call can be life-changing, coming as it does out of the blue and offering highly creative women and men the gift of time and the unfettered opportunity to explore, create, and contribute," said Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation.

Recipients this year include:

  • a molecular biologist reconstructing the emergence of multicellular organisms from unicellular life (Nicole King)
  • a sculptor integrating architecture and the optical effects of color and light into exquisitely constructed, contemplative spaces (Teresita Fernández)
  • a pharmacist reducing preventable drug and drug delivery errors in the healthcare industry (Michael Cohen)
  • a laser physicist engineering state-of-the-art lasers for novel and important applications in such fields as environmental monitoring, medicine, industry, and communications (Claire Gmachl)
  • a conservation biologist protecting endangered, diverse and previously unknown plants and animals of Madagascar (Steven Goodman)
  • a violinmaker producing new and world-class instruments for the twenty-first century (Joseph Curtin)
  • a clinician/researcher translating findings on the molecular genetics of breast cancer in African and African-American women into innovative clinical practices in the United States and abroad (Olufunmilayo Olopade)
  • a rare book preservationist raising the profile of the book as one of humankind’s greatest inventions (Terry Belanger)
  • a photographer using the personalizing power of portraiture to bring the faces of the world’s displaced into focus (Fazel Sheikh)
  • a fisherman fusing the roles of applied scientist and lobsterman to respond to increasing threats to the fishery ecosystem (Ted Ames)

"For the past 25 years, each announcement of new MacArthur Fellows has been an opportunity to recognize the critical role played in society by highly creative people working across a wide spectrum of activity. MacArthur Fellows reveal the wonders of the natural world, inspire us with their original thoughts and writing, and offer important new approaches for addressing significant social challenges on local, national, and global scales. Through our support of these twenty five remarkable people, we seek to foster their future creative works, as well as to highlight the potential of the individual in shaping a better future for us all," said Fanton.

The MacArthur Fellows Program was the first major grantmaking initiative of the Foundation. The inaugural class of MacArthur Fellows was named in 1981. Including this year's Fellows, 707 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82, have been named MacArthur Fellows since the inception of the program.

Daniel J. Socolow, the director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, noted that "the new MacArthur Fellows illustrate our conviction that talented individuals, free to follow their insights and instincts, will make a difference in shaping the future. As individuals, each is highly focused, tenacious, and creative. As a group, the new MacArthur Fellows are bold and risk-taking people changing our landscape and advancing our possibilities."

The selection process begins with formal nominations. At any given time, approximately one hundred anonymous nominators assist the Foundation in identifying people who should be considered for a MacArthur Fellowship. Nominations are only accepted from invited nominators, a list that is constantly renewed throughout the year. They are chosen from many fields and challenged to identify people who demonstrate exceptional creativity and promise. A 12-member Selection Committee, whose members also serve anonymously, meets regularly to review files, narrow the list, and make final recommendations to the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The number of Fellows selected each year is not fixed; typically, it varies between 20 and 25.

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