Meet the 2016 MacArthur fellows


The 2016 MacArthur fellows were honored for their work in theater arts, human rights law, bioengineering and other fields. One was cited for finding ways to bring credit to communities with insufficient banking; another invented an origami microscope that costs less than $1 to make.

Among the 23 fellows, 10 are from California and others have ties to the Golden State. Each grant winner will receive a $625,000 stipend over five years, which winners are free to spend however they wish.

Here's a complete list of this year's winners:

Ahilan Arulanantham

Human rights lawyer, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California

Leading advocacy and legal efforts to secure the right to due process for immigrants facing deportation. Works to set new legal precedents to expand the constitutional rights of noncitizens.

Daryl Baldwin

Linguist and cultural preservationist, Miami University of Ohio

Working to revive the linguistic, cultural and intellectual heritage of the Myaamia (Miami) nation of the Great Lakes region. Baldwin's focus on restoring the Myaamia language will impart important cultural knowledge to present-day Myaamia descendants.

Anne Basting

Theater artist and educator, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Demonstrating how storytelling and creative expression can improve the lives of elders experiencing cognitive impairment. Basting developed an alternative concept of aging that emphasizes sustained emotional connections.

Vincent Fecteau


The challenging forms of Fecteau's deceptively intricate, abstract work, which make the viewer aware of the act of perception. Modest in scale and constructed from unassuming materials, such as papier-mache and cardboard, the sculptures reward close and extended looking.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins


Jacobs-Jenkins uses a range of theatrical genres in subversive, often unsettling works. His plays engage frankly with the ways in which race, class and history are negotiated in private and public.

Read more about Jacobs-Jenkins’ work »

Kellie Jones

Art historian and curator, Columbia University

Research and curatorial practice that has helped introduce seminal black artists to wide audiences and bring to light long-forgotten or overlooked ones.

Read more about Jones’ work »

Subhash Khot

Theoretical computer scientist, New York University

Research tackling unresolved questions in the field of computational complexity.

Josh Kun

Cultural historian, USC

Exploring the ways in which the arts and popular culture are conduits to cross-cultural exchange and bringing diverse communities in Los Angeles together around heretofore unnoticed cultural commonalities.

Read more about Kun's work »

(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation )

Maggie Nelson

Writer, California Institute of the Arts

Rendering pressing issues of our time into portraits of day-to-day experience in works of nonfiction marked by dynamic interplay between personal experience and critical theory.

Read more about Nelson’s work »

Caltech's Dianne Newman, one of the 2016 MacArthur Fellows
(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Dianne Newman

Microbiologist, Caltech

Investigating the role bacteria have played in shaping Earth and making it habitable for us – and continue to play in modern biomedical contexts.

Read more about Newman's research »

Victoria Orphan

Geobiologist, Caltech

Studies of microbial communities in extreme environments that are shedding new light on the biogeochemical processes underlying the cycling of nutrients and energy that shape Earth’s climate.

Read more about Orphan's research »

Manu Prakash

Physical biologist and inventor, Stanford University

Inventing several devices that empower “frugal science.” His low-cost, widely accessible devices include an origami paper microscope and a computer processor powered by water and bubbles.

Read more about Prakash's research »

José A. Quiñonez

Financial services innovator, Mission Asset Fund

Developing a model for establishing the creditworthiness of populations lacking banking services, which is affording them a pathway to mainstream financial services and improving their financial stability.

Read more about Quiñonez's work »

Claudia Rankine

Poet, Yale University

Poetry that illuminates the emotional and psychic tensions that mark the experiences of many living in 21st century America.

Read more about Rankine’s work »

(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
(John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation / John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Lauren Redniss

Artist and writer, Parsons School of Design at the New School

Fusing artwork, written text and design in a unique approach to visual nonfiction that enriches the ways in which stories can be conveyed, experienced and understood.

Read more about Redniss’ work »

Mary Reid Kelley

Video artist

Work in a variety of media that culminates in arresting, playful and erudite videos that explore the condition of women throughout history.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Bioengineer, Rice University

Creating numerous low-cost, practical medical tools for use in low-resource settings. She also wrote a curriculum to inspire the next generation of engineers to find solutions for global health disparities.

Joyce J. Scott

Jewelry maker and sculptor

Repositioning beadwork into a potent platform for commentary on social and political injustices. Her handmade works include elaborate, oversized neckpieces, figurative sculptures and installations.

Sarah Stillman

Long-form journalist, New Yorker

Bringing to light the stories of people usually invisible to mainstream reporting and providing new and compelling perspectives on social justice issues.

Read more about Stillman’s work »

Bill Thies

Computer scientist, Microsoft Research India

Creating communication and digital technologies to advance the social and economic well-being of low-income communities in the developing world, particularly in rural India.

Julia Wolfe

Composer, New York University

Compositions that combine influences from folk, classical and rock music and are grounded in historical and legendary narratives.

Read more about Wolfe’s work »

Gene Luen Yang

Graphic novelist

Graphic novels that bring diverse people and cultures to children’s and young adult literature, confirming comics’ place as an important creative and imaginative force within literature, art and education.

Read more about Yang’s work »

Jin-Quan Yu

Synthetic chemist, Scripps Research Institute

Pioneering new methods for the functionalization of carbon-hydrogen bonds. The work paves the way for the development of versatile and beneficial chemical compounds used in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and materials science.

Read more about Yu’s work »