Macarthur Foundation Honors 24 More Geniuses

09.22.09 | FL News Team

The 2009 MacArthur genius grants are out with a whole new batch of world-changing scientists, writers, artists and activists. Under the rules of the 500-thousand-dollar grants, none of the 24 winners ever knew they were under consideration. Among the more famous winners is Edwidge Danticat, a 40-year-old Haitian-American whose writing has won wide critical acclaim. She told "The New York Times," quote, "It felt incredibly, wonderfully surreal."


Among the other winners was an investigative journalist in Mississippi who digs around in cold cases from the Civil Rights era. Jerry Mitchell, a reporter with "The Clarion-Ledger" in Jackson, said he'll use his grant to write a book. Others getting 100-thousand dollars a year for five years, no strings attached, include a cancer researcher from UC-Berkeley and a climatologist from Harvard. Another is a bridge engineer figuring out ways to keep infrastructure safe after disasters. An evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University won for her detective work with fossils and dirt samples in tracing the fate of certain species.


Rebecca Onie won for founding Project Health while still a sophomore at Harvard University. Now 32, Onie's program focuses on the link between poverty and poor health. Roughly half the awards were in science and medicine, including an infectious disease specialist in Sudan and a Princeton researcher looking at the link between ocean fertility and climate change. The full list of winners from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation at