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This Year's MacArthur 'Genius Grants' Were Just Announced—Here's The Full Winner List

A selection of MacArthur Fellows from the Class of 2021
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
A selection of MacArthur Fellows from the Class of 2021

Updated September 28, 2021 at 12:09 PM ET

Yes, we know they're technically called "MacArthur fellows." We also know that the MacArthur Foundation doesn't love that the term "genius" has stuck around for so long. (The term is "both too narrow and too broad," it says.) But when we're talking about people researching pediatric brain cancer treatments or championing voting rights for incarcerated citizens or crafting mind-expanding documentaries, the term fits well enough as any other.

This year's list of recipients includes art historian and curator Nicole Fleetwood, whose museum exhibition "Marking Time" collected artwork made by incarcerated people while in prison. The list also includes landscape ecologist Lisa Schulte Moore, who has been working with farmers toward more sustainable agricultural systems. And it also includes Daniel Alarcón, writer and producer of the NPR-distributed podcast Radio Ambulante.

"As we emerge from the shadows of the past two years, this class of 25 Fellows helps us reimagine what's possible," said MacArthur Fellows managing director Cecilia Conrad in a statement. "They demonstrate that creativity has no boundaries."

The fellows receive $625,000 each, which they are free to spend however they see fit. The full list of winners is below.

Hanif Abdurraqib, 38, music critic, essayist and poet

"Forging a distinctive style of cultural and artistic criticism through the lens of popular music and autobiography."

Daniel Alarcón, 44, writer and radio producer

"Chronicling the social and cultural ties that connect Spanish-speaking communities across the Americas."

Marcella Alsan, 44, physician-economist

"Investigating the role that legacies of discrimination and resulting mistrust play in perpetuating racial disparities in health."

Trevor Bedford, 39, computational virologist

"Developing tools for real-time tracking of virus evolution and the spread of infectious diseases."

Reginald Dwayne Betts, 40, poet and lawyer

"Promoting the humanity and rights of individuals who are or have been incarcerated."

Jordan Casteel, 32, painter

"Capturing everyday encounters with people of color in portraits that invite reciprocal recognition of our shared humanity."

Don Mee Choi, 59, poet and translator

"Bearing witness to the effects of military violence and U.S. imperialism on the civilians of the Korean Peninsula."

Ibrahim Cissé, 38, cellular biophysicist

"Developing microscopy tools to investigate the subcellular processes underlying genetic regulation and misfunction."

Nicole Fleetwood, 48, art historian and curator

"Elucidating the cultural and aesthetic significance of visual art created by incarcerated people."

Cristina Ibarra, 49, documentary filmmaker

"Crafting nuanced narratives about borderland communities, often from the perspective of Chicana and Latina youth."

Ibram X. Kendi, 39, American historian and cultural critic

"Advancing conversations around anti-Black racism and possibilities for repair in a variety of initiatives and platforms."

Daniel Lind-Ramos, 68, sculptor and painter

"Transforming everyday objects into assemblages that speak to the global connections inherent in Afro-Caribbean and diaspora legacies."

Monica Muñoz Martinez, 37, public historian

"Bringing to lightlong-obscured cases of racial violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and their reverberations in the present.

Desmond Meade, 54, civil rights activist

"Working to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated citizens and remove barriers to their full participation in civic life."

Joshua Miele, 52, adaptive technology designer

"Developing devices to enable blind and visually impaired people to access everyday technologies and digital information."

Michelle Monje, 45, neurologist and neuro-oncologist

"Advancing understanding of pediatric brain cancers and the effects of cancer treatments with an eye toward improved therapies for patients."

Safiya Noble, 51, digital media scholar

"Highlighting the ways digital technologies and internet architectures magnify racism, sexism, and harmful stereotypes."

J. Taylor Perron, 44, geomorphologist

"Deconstructing the physical processes that create landforms on Earth and other planetary bodies."

Alex Rivera, 48, filmmaker and media artist

"Exploring issues around migration to the United States and exploitative labor
practices with an activist orientation."

Lisa Schulte Moore, 50, landscape ecologist

"Implementing locally relevant approaches to improve soil and water quality and strengthen the resilience of row crop agriculture."

Jesse Shapiro, 41, applied microeconomist

"Devising new frameworks of analysis to advance understanding of media bias, ideological polarization, and the efficacy of public policy interventions."

Jacqueline Stewart, 51, cinema studies scholar and curator

"Ensuring that the contributions of overlooked Black filmmakers and communities of spectators have a place in the public imagination."

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, 49, historian

"Analyzing the political and economic forces underlying racial inequality and the role of social movements in transforming society."

Victor J. Torres, 44, microbiologist

"Investigating how bacterial pathogens overcome the immune system and identifying potential therapies."

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, 70, choreographer and dancer

"Using the power of dance and artistic expression to elevate the voices of Black women and promote civic engagement."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.