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MacArthur Foundation Names 2010 Fellows

The MacArthur Foundation named 23 new fellows on Tuesday. Nicknamed the "Genius Grant" or the "Genius Award," the honor is a no-strings-attached gift of $500,000 disbursed in $100,000 increments over five years. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation distributes the awards to individuals across a broad spectrum — and this year's bunch includes, among others, writers, scientists, and a type designer — who exhibit creativity and originality in their fields. Since 1981, 828 people have been named fellows.

Several 2010 MacArthur Fellows appeared recently on WNYC:

The work of New York-based theater director David Cromer has been the subject of many conversations at WNYC. In March 2009, Leonard Lopate interviewed Cromer about directing and acting in his off-Broadway revival of Thorton Wilder's play "Old Town."

Annette Gordon-Reed has spoken with several WNYC hosts about American history. With Leonard Lopate in December 2008, she discussed her book "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family," about President Thomas Jefferson's relationship with slave Sally Hemings.

Yiyun Li, a fiction writer, spoke to Brian Lehrer with others in April 2006 about writing from exile.

Jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran, who lives in New York City, has appeared frequently on WNYC and classical sister station WQXR. He also performed in March 2010 at an event honoring Leonard Lopate's 25th anniversary at WNYC. In the April 2009 video below, he performs a solo collection for WQXR recorded live in The Greene Space. When WNYC Culture producer Marlon Bishop asked Moran what his plans were for the grant, he responded, "I can tell you what I think I might do and none of that might happen — because, you know, I'm an improviser." 

Last but not least, and most recently on WNYC, author, screenwriter, and producer David Simon appeared last week on The Brian Lehrer Show to talk about his HBO creations "The Wire" and "Treme," and his new forward in the Penguin Classics book "Paths of Glory."

Other 2010 fellows include:

Amir Abo-Shaeer, physics teacher

Jessie Little Doe Baird, indigenous language preservationist

Kelly Benoit-Bird, marine biologist

Nicholas Benson, stone carver

Drew Berry, biomedical animator

Carlos D. Bustamante, population geneticist

Matthew Carter, type designer

John Dabiri, biophysicist

Shannon Lee Dawdy, anthropologist

Michal Lipson, optical physicist

Nergis Mavalvala, quantum astrophysicist

Carol Padden, sign language linguist

Jorge Pardo, installation artist

Sebastian Ruth, violist, violinist, and music educator

Emmanuel Saez, economist

Dawn Song, computer security specialist

Marla Spivak, entomologist

Elizabeth Turk, sculptor