- LaToya Ruby Frazier, Photographer
- Michelle Dorrance, Tap Dancer
- Beth Stevens, Neuroscientist
- Nicole Eisenman, Artist
- Heidi Williams, Economist
- Mimi Lien, Set Designer
- Marina Rustow, Historian
- Alex Truesdell, Social Entrepreneur
- Ellen Bryant Voigt, Poet
- Ellen Bryant Voigt at her home in Cabot, VT.
Last night, The MacArthur Foundation announced its wonderfully diverse group of 2015 “genius grant” recipients. The grant includes a stipend of $625,000 over five years, with no strings attached. The funding offers a unique opportunity to the winners: a chance to take risks and push their work to new and exciting levels. Among the winners are nine women whose accomplishments in fields like neuroscience, photography, and even tap dancing, have already blown us away. We can only imagine what’s in store for these ground-breakers in the coming years. Below, see all nine women MacArthur “geniuses” for yourself:
LaToya Ruby Frazier, Photographer
Frazier is a photographer and video artist who has confronted the effects of poverty, racism, and economic decline in her hometown of Braddock Pennsylvania, which was once home to a booming steel mill. Frazier continues to explore how institutionalized racism, toxic pollution, and lack of infrastructure has impacted generations of her family, and the community as a whole. See Frazier’s photos in our interview with her, here.
Michelle Dorrance, Tap Dancer
Dorrance is a tap dancer, artistic director, and choreographer who’s working to bring tap dance — the first American dance form — to a contemporary audience. She’s passionate about connecting viewers and dancers with the rich history of tap and its influence on American dance, from jazz to hip hop.
Beth Stevens, Neuroscientist
Stevens’ work on brain development may be way over our heads, but her research is groundbreaking, no less. “I’m very interested in how the brain wires up during development…and how this wiring might go awry,” says Stevens. Her research could lead to new insight into neurodegenerative conditions like alzheimer’s disease.
Nicole Eisenman, Artist
In the art world, Nicole Eisenman’s career is already the stuff of legend. Aside from exhibiting at world class museums like The Whitney and MoMA, Eisenman’s work stretches across multiple mediums to include painting, printmaking and sculpture. She’s also deeply engaged in conversations about gender and sexuality and the politics of power, and she employs an extensive knowledge of art history to her practice.
Alex Truesdell, Social Entrepreneur
Alex Truesdell, visionary behind the nonprofit Adaptive Design Association, Inc., is changing the way we think about children with disabilities. She works with designers to create custom furniture and devices that help disabled children adapt to their everyday lives. What’s more, she employs easily-attainable and affordable materials to make her designs more accessible to low-income families.
Heidi Williams, Economist
Heidi Williams has brought creative thinking to her research as an economist, which is focused on healthcare. Specifically, she’s studying how intellectual property laws and patents impact innovative discoveries in healthcare. Recently, her research has opened up important discussions about cancer drug development.
Mimi Lien, Set Designer
Mimi Lien’s set designs don’t only provide atmosphere to theatre performances; the set objects also participate in the theatre themselves. Lien combines her knowledge of architecture and set design with an innate understanding of the drama unfolding on stage to design interactive sets that engage the audience on new, heightened emotional levels.
Marina Rustow, Historian
Marina Rustow’s work has taken her deep into the history of Jewish life in the Middle East. She’s studied hundreds of thousands of legal documents, letters, and literary materials deposited in Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue over more than a millennium. Thanks to Rustow, we’re beginning to better understand the power dynamics that have shaped religious boundaries in the Middle East.
Ellen Bryant Voigt, Poet
Ellen Bryant Voight’s upbringing on a rural farm in Virginia, along with her training as a pianist, are both visible in her poetry. She explores the natural world with beautiful, lyrical prose that sets her work apart.
Meet the rest of the 2015 MacArthur geniuses here.