MacArthur Genius Grants: 2013 Winners Announced

The 2013 MacArthur genius grants were awarded to 24 researchers. Each winner will received $625,000 over the next five years. This year, the award was increased by $125,000 for the first time in 13 years.

The awards are given in recognition of “exceptional creativity.” The MacArthur Fellowship funds researchers, without the obligation of reporting requirements. There are no age requirements or specific research topics.

The awards are limited to residents and citizens of the United States. The only requirement is that recipients must be nominated.

As reported by the MacArthur Foundation, judging criteria includes:

“… exceptional creativity, as demonstrated through a track record of significant achievement, and manifest promise for important future advances.”

This year’s winners include a neuroscientist developing ways to restore vision in the blind, a choreographer linking identity with personal history, and a pianist adding a modern twist to classical music.

This year’s MacArthur genius grants were awarded to individuals ranging in age from 32 to 60. They have a variety of occupations from scientists to musicians. One thing they now have in common is the financing to fund their passions.

Sheila Nirenberg, a neuroscientist at Cornell University, will use the award to continue her research. She developed a device that has allows blind mice to see. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the prosthetic device translates images into electrical pulses. The electrical pulses are then transmitted into the brain, which turns them into images.

The award will allow Nirenberg to move forward with her research. She hopes the technology will restore vision in patients with retinal degenerative diseases.

Choreographer and dancer Kyle Abraham will use part of his award to pay off student loans. He would also like to provide health-care to his dance company employees. Abraham says the funding will help him overcome “a lot of constant worries.”

MacArthur genius grants come with no-strings attached. While further research and creativity are encouraged, it is not an obligation. You can view names and biographies for all recipients HERE.

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