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Here Are the Science, Tech and Media People Who Won a MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Today

The winners include the Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates and Stanford's Christopher Re.

MacArthur Foundation

The MacArthur Fellows Program, better known as the MacArthur “Genius Grant,” is a prestigious fellowship that gives out big chunks of money to exceptionally smart Americans working in creative and scientific fields.

This morning, the MacArthur Foundation announced its 24 fellows for the 2015 program, each of whom will receive $625,000. They include widely admired journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, Stanford computer scientist Christopher Re and a bunch of other people who probably had better SAT scores than you or me.

Here’s the list of winners representing science, tech and media, their ages, affiliated institutions and the reasons why they were selected:

  • Ghanaian-American entrepreneur Patrick Awuah, 50: “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.”
  • Columbia environmental engineer Kartik Chandran, 41: “Transforming wastewater from a pollutant requiring disposal to a resource for useful products, such as commodity chemicals, energy sources and fertilizers.”
  • Journalist for The Atlantic and author Ta-Nehisi Coates, 39: “Interpreting complex and challenging issues around race and racism through the lens of personal experience and nuanced historical analysis.”
  • Cornell chemist William Dichtel, 37: “Pioneering the assembly of molecules into stable, high surface-area networks with potential applications in electronic, optical and energy storage devices.”
  • University of Chicago biologist John Novembre, 37: “Shedding new light on the links between geography and genomic diversity and producing a more finely grained picture of human evolutionary history.”
  • Stanford computer scientist Christopher Re, 36: “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.”
  • Harvard neuroscientist Beth Stevens, 45: “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.”
  • Sloan-Kettering stem-cell biologist Lorenz Studer, 49: “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.”
  • UC Berkeley chemist Peidong Yang, 44: “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.”

Other grantees include historians, an economist, artists and a puppeteer.

This article originally appeared on

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