Meet the 9 Female MacArthur 2015 Fellowship Winners

Meet the 9 Female MacArthur 2015 Fellowship Winners


Sep 30, 2015

The 2015 MacArthur "Genius Grant" Winners were announced Tuesday and as always, this year's class is made up of some serious talent.

The prestigious fellowship, which has come to be known as the "Genius Grant," is a program that "celebrates and inspires the creative potential of individuals through no-strings-attached fellowships."

Recipients receive a hefty $625,000 in prize money to spend on their creative and work endeavors however they see fit.

"We try to reach people who have shown evidence of exceptional creativity but show the potential for more in the future," Cecilia  A. Conrad, the foundation's managing director told The New York Times.

Each year, 24 individuals are selected to participate in the program from a highly competitive pool of applicants. Among the 24 creators and innovators selected this year, nine of them were women. 

Learn about the women and their inspiring work below.

1. Michelle Dorrance: 36, Tap Dancer and Choreographer, New York, N.Y.
Dorrance is the Founder and Artistic Director of Dorrance Dance/New York. Dorrance is "reinvigorating a uniquely American dance form in works that combines the musicality of tap with the choreographic intricacies of contemporary dance."
On winning the award:  "If being a fellow means I can be a better version of myself for everyone I'm working with — what a blessing."

2. Nicole Eisenman: 50, Painter, New York, N.Y.
Eisenman is an artist who is "expanding the critical and expressive capacity of the Western figurative tradition through works that engage contemporary social issues and phenomena."
On winning the award: "I think the fellowship gives me an extra boost of confidence to just go forth and do what I've been trying to do my whole life."

3. LaToya Ruby Frazier: 33, Photographer and Video Artist, Chicago
Frazier uses "visual autobiographies to capture social inequality and historical change in the postindustrial age"
On winning the award: "I realize it's an opportunity for me to continue to make meaningful work and to have a purposeful life."

4. Mimi Lien: 39, Set Designer, New York, New York
Lien is a "set designer for theater, opera, and dance whose bold, immersive designs shape and extend a dramatic text's narrative and emotional dynamics."
On winning the grant: "It's an amazing amount of faith and confidence that's been placed upon me."

5. Marina Rustow: 46, Historian, Princeton, N.J.
Rustow is a historian "using the Cairo Geniza texts to shed new light on Jewish life and on the broader society of the medieval Middle East." 
On winning the grant: "I'm hoping this will give me a little bit more freedom [on developing her current project]."

6. Beth Stevens: 45, Neuroscientist, Boston
Stevens is a neuroscientist "whose research on microglial cells is prompting a significant shift in thinking about neuron communication in the healthy brain and the origins of adult neurological diseases." 
On winning the grant: "It's an incredible honor to have this award."

7. Alex Truesdell: 59, Adaptive Designer and Fabricator, New York, N.Y.
Truesdell is "a visionary social entrepreneur who creates low-tech, affordable tools and furniture that enable children with disabilities to participate actively in their homes, schools, and communities."
On winning the grant: "When I got the phone call, It was the most shattering, stunning, memorable and indescribable moment. In one instant, life changed."

8. Ellen Bryant Voigt: 72, Poet, Cabot, Vt.
Voigt is "a poet whose eight published collections meditate on will and fate and the life cycles of the natural world while exploring the expressive potential of both lyric and narrative elements."
On winning the grant: "There's nothing whatsoever that prepared me for a single moment of thinking that this could ever, ever happen."

9. Heidi Williams: 34, Economist, Cambridge, Mass.
Williams is "an economist unraveling the causes and consequences of innovation in health care markets."
On winning the grant: "When I received the call, I was completely speechless and overwhelmed — it's incredibly humbling."

NEXT: Thurber Prize Crowns First Female Winner Because Finally, Women Are Actually Funny »

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Photo Credit: Jemal Countess via Getty Images

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