(All Portrait Images courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced the Class of 2015 MacArthur Fellows and it’s a list rich with diversity and achievement. The MacArthur 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 MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.
Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.
The Foundation does not require or expect specific products or reports from MacArthur Fellows, and does not evaluate recipients’ creativity during the term of the fellowship. The MacArthur Fellowship is a “no strings attached” award in support of people, not projects. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years.
How Fellows are Chosen
Each year, the MacArthur Fellows Program invites new nominators on the basis of their expertise, accomplishments, and breadth of experience. They are encouraged to nominate the most creative people they know within their field and beyond. Nominators are chosen from as broad a range of fields and areas of interest as possible. At any given time, there are usually more than one hundred active nominators.
Nominations are evaluated by an independent Selection Committee composed of about a dozen leaders in the arts, sciences, humanities professions, and for-profit and nonprofit communities. Each nomination is considered with respect to the program’s selection criteria, based on the nomination letter along with original works of the nominee and evaluations from other experts collected by the program staff.
After a thorough, multi-step review, the Selection Committee makes its recommendations to the President and board of directors of the MacArthur Foundation. Announcement of the annual list is usually made in September. While there are no quotas or limits, typically 20 to 30 Fellows are selected each year. Between June of 1981 and September of 2013, 897 Fellows have been named.
Nominators, evaluators, and selectors all serve anonymously and their correspondence is kept confidential. This policy enables participants to provide their honest impressions independent of outside influence. The Fellows Program does not accept applications or unsolicited nominations.
There are no restrictions on becoming a Fellow, except that nominees must be either residents or citizens of the United States.
“These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.”
And the 2015 MacArthur Fellows are:
CEO of the Ashesi University College Patrick Awuah. On the day of September 17th 2015 at Brekuso in the Eastern Region of Ghana. (Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. )
Patrick Awuah, Education Entrepreneur, Founder and President
Ashesi University College, Accra, Ghana
Patrick Awuah is an educator and entrepreneur building a new model for higher education in Ghana. Ashesi University, which Awuah founded in 2002, is a four-year private institution that offers a core curriculum grounded in liberal arts, ethical principles, and skills for contemporary African needs and opportunities. Awuah, a native of Ghana, was educated at American universities and began a successful career as a Microsoft engineer, but a vision for better higher education in Ghana drew him home. He saw a stark contrast between his college experience, which stressed critical thinking and problem solving, and the rote learning common in Ghana’s educational system. He was also convinced that a focus on ethical leadership in the next generation of Ghana’s leaders was the best means for combating pervasive corruption.
Students at Ashesi choose among degree programs in business management, computer science, management information systems, and engineering. All students participate in a four-year leadership seminar on ethics, collaboration, and entrepreneurship that concludes with a service-learning component. Fostering ethical leadership is central to the university’s ethos, and in 2008, students established an honor code holding themselves responsible for ethical behavior, the first of its kind in African universities. In addition, Awuah places an emphasis on ethnic, economic, and gender diversity in the Ashesi community, and the recently opened school of engineering will focus on gender parity in its admissions.
In a little over a decade, Ashesi is already firmly established as one of Ghana’s premier universities. Every one of its graduates has found quality employment, and almost all remain in Africa, where many have started much-needed information technology businesses. Awuah’s innovation in higher education is not only empowering individual students; it also has the potential to transform political and civil society in Ghana and other African nations by developing a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.
Patrick Awuah received B.S. and B.A. degrees (1989) from Swarthmore College and an M.B.A. (1999) from the University of California at Berkeley. He was an engineer and program manager at Microsoft (1989–1997) prior to founding Ashesi University in 2002 in Accra, Ghana. In addition to serving as president of Ashesi, he is also a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and a member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations.
Kartik Chandran Associate Professor, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University, New York,NY. Photographed at Columbia University and by the Hudson river. on September 19, 2015 in New York, NY.
Kartik Chandran, Environmental Engineer
Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Columbia University, New York, New York
Kartik Chandran is an environmental engineer integrating microbial ecology, molecular biology, and engineering to transform wastewater from a troublesome pollutant to a valuable resource. Traditional facilities for biologically treating wastewater remove pathogens, organic carbon, and nutrients (where necessary) through decades-old technology that requires vast amounts of energy and resources, releases harmful gases into the atmosphere, and leaves behind material that must be discarded. Chandran approaches wastewater treatment with the goal of producing useful resources such as fertilizers, chemicals, and energy sources, in addition to clean water, in a way that takes into account the climate, energy, and nutrient challenges we face today. Continue reading