Nine Researchers Win MacArthur Fellowships

A nonet of researchers is among the 22 winners of this year's MacArthur Fellowships. Over the next 5 years, each of the winners will receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support to "reflect, create, and explore." The nine science-related recipients are:

  • Elodie Ghedin, a biomedical researcher at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, who uses genomic sequencing techniques to generate insights into human pathogens. One focus of her work has been parasites that cause diseases endemic to tropical climates, such as sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, and river blindness.
  • Kevin Guskiewicz, a researcher and athletic trainer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who has helped draw public attention to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sports-related concussions. He was among the first to identify the long-term effects of multiple concussions through large-scale epidemiological studies of retired professional football players.
  • Markus Greiner, an experimental physicist at Harvard University who has helped develop methods for controlling and visualizing the spatial organization of ultra-cold atoms.
  • Matthew Nock, a clinical psychologist at Harvard who studies suicide and self-injury in adolescents and adults. His studies of nonsuicidal self-injury (such as cutting and burning) among adolescents have demonstrated that these behaviors may serve an adaptive function by activating the body's ability to self-regulate runaway anger, anxiety, or stress.
  • Sarah Otto, a theoretical biologist at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Her research focuses on population genetics and evolution, and has examined why some species reproduce sexually or carry more than one copy of each gene.
  • Shwetak Patel, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, Seattle, who has invented a series of sensor technology systems for home environments with the goal of saving energy and improving daily life.
  • Melanie Sanford, a chemist the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who focuses on using metal-based agents, primarily palladium, to catalyze reactions that substitute hydrogen in carbon-hydrogen bonds with other atoms or functional groups. Beginning with a reaction cycle widely regarded as too difficult to control, she developed a mechanism for taming palladium's activity, making it practical for lab work.
  • William Seeley, a clinician-researcher the University of California, San Francisco, who integrates microscopy, imaging, and clinical examinations to explore human neurodegenerative disease. Seeley concentrates on frontotemporal dementia, a family of syndromes usually afflicting people in midlife.
  • Yukiko Yamashita, a developmental biologist at the University of Michigan Medical School, explores the biochemical, structural, and molecular genetic mechanisms that regulate stem cell division. Among other things, her work has helped illuminate the mechanisms underlying the loss of control over stem cell division, which is regarded as a cause of many human diseases.

Another winner, public radio host and producer Jad Abumrad, is one of the creative forces behind Radiolab, a nationally syndicated program that often tackles science-related topics.