The Women MacArthur Fellows 2012, honored for helping build a more just, verdant, and peaceful world

The MacArthur Fellowship Program

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced the MacArthur Fellows for 2012 on Monday, 1st October, 2012 and 10 of the 23 MacArthur Fellows are women. The MacArthur Fellowship cannot be applied for, and comes with US $ 500,000 spread in equal installments for five years. The MacArthur Foundation, one of US largest independent foundations, through its grantees work in more than 60 countries. According to the Foundation, the Fellows Program “awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.”

The recipients learned, through a phone call out of the blue from the Foundation, that they will each receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over the next five years. MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations or reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore. The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors. The work of MacArthur Fellows knows neither boundaries nor the constraints of age, place, and endeavor.

The selection process begins with formal nominations. Hundreds of anonymous nominators assist the Foundation in identifying people to be considered for a MacArthur Fellowship. Nominations are accepted only from invited nominators, a list that is constantly renewed throughout the year. They are chosen from many fields and challenged to identify people who demonstrate exceptional creativity and promise. A Selection Committee of roughly a dozen members, who also serve anonymously, meets regularly to review files, narrow the list, and make final recommendations to the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The number of Fellows selected each year is not fixed; typically, it varies between 20 and 25.

Including this year’s Fellows, 873 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82 at the time of their selection, have been named MacArthur Fellows since the inaugural class in 1981.

Here are the Women MacArthur Fellows 2012, honored for helping build a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. Click on each link to learn more of the recipients and video interviews.



Natalia Almada Documentary Filmmaker
Uta Barth Conceptual Photographer
Claire Chase Arts Entrepreneur
Maria Chudnovsky Mathematician
Elissa Hallem Neurobiologist
An-My Lê Photographer
Terry Plank Geochemist
Laura Poitras Documentary Filmmaker
Nancy Rabalais Marine Ecologist
Melody Swartz Bioengineer

The MacArthur Fellows Program : An Overview.

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