The US-based MacArthur Foundation selected its annual crop of MacArthur Fellows — US citizens working in any field who are awarded ‘no-strings-attached’ grants, popularly referred to as ‘genius grants’, of US$500,000, paid out in quarterly instalments over five years. This year, 10 of the 23 fellows are scientists.
Maria Chudnovsky, a mathematician at Columbia University in New York, who focuses on developing the conceptual foundations connecting graph theory to other major branches of mathematics, such as linear programming, geometry and complexity theory.
Eric Coleman, a geriatrician at the University of Colorado in Denver, whose work focuses on the miscommunications and errors that happen when patients leave hospital for seniors’ homes or other sub-acute care facilities. Coleman has quantified the scope of the problem and devised predictive metrics and improvements for seamless transfers of care that have been adopted internationally.
Olivier Guyon, an optical physicist and astronomer at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who invents and designs new telescope technologies that reduce the engineering and cost obstacles in the search for exoplanets.
Elissa Hallem, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who investigates the physiology and behavioural consequences of odour detection. Her work on how parasitic nematodes use carbon dioxide detection to locate host organisms to invade could help reduce parasitic infections in humans.
Sarkis Mazmanian, a medical microbiologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who explores the symbiosis between humans and their gut microbiome, aiming to find new therapies and preventative treatments for disease. He has published three times in Nature.
Terry Plank, a geochemist at Columbia University, who explores the complex interplay of thermal and chemical forces that drives plate tectonics, the science of which is still very much in its early stages. Her work has appeared three times in Nature or Nature Geoscience.
Nancy Rabalais, a marine ecologist with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Chauvin, who investigates hypoxic zones — aquatic areas with low dissolved oxygen levels commonly known as ‘dead zones‘ — that have expanded dramatically in the Gulf of Mexico and many other coastal systems around the globe, exploring hypoxia dynamics and their impact on different, interconnected ecosystems.
Daniel Spielman, a theoretical computer scientist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and winner of the Nevanlinna Prize for contributions to mathematical aspects of computer science, who has investigated optimization algorithms and the application of linear algebra to solve optimization problems in graph theory.
Melody Swartz, a bioengineer at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland, who looks at the mechanisms controlling the movement of biologic fluids through tissue, with findings that suggest that beyond cell surface markers and chemical signals, direct mechanical forces also have a key influence on tissue vascularization. Her work has been published in Nature Reviews Immunology, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, Nature Protocols and Nature Reviews Cancer.
Benjamin Warf, a paediatric neurosurgeon with Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, who pioneered an alternative, low-cost treatment for hydrocephalus in the developing world using modern endoscopic techniques based on a surgical approach first attempted in the early twentieth century.