Twenty-four people received the MacArthur "Genius Grant" phone call this year, meaning they'll get a $625,000, five-year grant. The award is famously a "no strings attached" situation, where recipients are more or less just expected to spend the money in order to fund their genius. As is somewhat characteristic of the foundation, this years crop of geniuses are notably eclectic in interest. The fellows, the beneficiaries of an intriguing nomination and selection process, include a doctor who developed new ways to help Camden residents get health care, Swamplandia author Karen Russell, and playwrights, scientists, choreographers writers, and economists. Via the AP, the full list is:
— Kyle Abraham, 36, New York City. Choreographer and dancer who explores the confluence of personal history and identity.
— Donald Antrim, 55, New York City. Teaches writing at Columbia University and is being recognized for his fiction and nonfiction.
— Phil Baran, 36, La Jolla, Calif. Organic chemist at Scripps Research Institute who invents ways to recreate natural products with potential pharmaceutical uses.
— C. Kevin Boyce, 39, Stanford, Calif. Paleobotanist at Stanford University who looks at links between ancient plants and today's ecosystems.
— Jeffrey Brenner, 44, Camden, N.J. The physician founded a health care delivery model that finds, tracks and serves the city's poorest and sickest residents.
— Colin Camerer, 53, Pasadena, Calif. Behavioral economist at the California Institute of Technology whose pioneering research has challenged assumptions in traditional economic models.
— Jeremy Denk, 43, New York City. Writer and concert pianist who combines his skills to help readers and listeners to better appreciate classical music.
@BrianKUSC many thanks brian! Overwhelmed.— jeremydenk (@jeremydenk) September 25, 2013
— Angela Duckworth, 43, Philadelphia. Research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania helping to transform understanding of just what roles self-control and grit play in educational achievement.
— Craig Fennie, 40, Ithaca, N.Y. Materials scientist at Cornell University has designed new materials with electrical, optical and magnetic properties needed for electronics and communication technology.
— Robin Fleming, 57, Chestnut Hill, Mass. A medieval historian at Boston College who's written extensively on the lives of common people in Britain in the years after the fall of the Roman Empire.
— Carl Haber, 54, Berkeley, Calif. Taking insights from his work on imaging subatomic particle tracks, the experimental physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developed new technologies to preserve rare, damaged and old sound recordings.
— Vijay Iyer, 41, New York City. Jazz pianist, composer and bandleader and writer reconceptualizing the genre through compositions for his ensembles, as well as cross-disciplinary collaborations and scholarly writing.
Iyer has already his excitement about the award:
THANK YOU GUYS— vijayiyer (@vijayiyer) September 25, 2013
— Dina Katabi, 42, Cambridge, Mass. A computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has worked at interfacing computer science and electrical engineering to improve the speed and security of data exchange.
— Julie Livingston, 46, New Brunswick, N.J. Medical historian at Rutgers University interested in the care of chronically ill patients in Botswana who exposed the unlikelihood that technology will fix health issues in Africa or the rest of the world.
— David Lobell, 34, Stanford, Calif. Agricultural ecologist at Stanford University who has investigated the impact of climate change on crop production and food security around the world.
— Tarell McCraney, 32, Chicago. Playwright at Steppenwolf Theater Company who examines the diversity of African-American experiences.
— Susan Murphy, 55, Ann Arbor, Mich. A statistician at the University of Michigan, she has translated statistical theory into tools that can be used to evaluate and customize treatment regimens for people with chronic or relapsing disorders.
— Sheila Nirenberg, New York City. Neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College exploring the nervous system and creating new prosthetic devices and robots.
— Alexei Ratmansky, 45, New York City. Choreographer and artist-in-residence at the American Ballet Theatre revitalizing classical ballet with interpretations of traditional works and original pieces.
— Ana Maria Rey, 36, Boulder, Colo. Theoretical physicist at the University of Colorado working on how to control states of matter through conceptual research on ultra-cold atoms.
— Karen Russell, 32, New York City. A fiction writer and author of the novel "Swamplandia" whose work blends fantastical elements with psychological realism.
— Sara Seager, 42, Cambridge, Mass. Astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology creating a theoretical framework for determining the characteristics of planets outside our solar system.
— Margaret Stock, 51, Anchorage, Alaska. Immigration attorney who founded a program that pairs volunteer attorneys around the country with military families in need of legal assistance with the deportation of loved ones and other immigration issues.
— Carrie Mae Weems, 60, Syracuse, N.Y. Photographer and video artist who examines African-American identity, class and culture in the United States.
Though recipients this year are varied in their pursuits, the geographic makeup of the class of fellows is not. The New York Times notes that a third of the list hails from New York City and only three of the grant recipients are not from the East or West Coast. That makeup doesn't exactly buck a trend: many of last year's recipients similarly hailed from the coasts. Unlike two of the 2012 recipients, however, none of this year's winners reside outside the United States.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.