Cambridge grad wins “genius grant”

Katie Wetherall 22 September 2014

Cambridge graduate Mark Hersham has been made a MacArthur Fellow, colloquially known as a "genius grant".

Hersham, 39, first studied at the University of Illinois and received his Masters from Cambridge in 1997.

Currently a Professor at Northwestern University, USA, Hersham has been recognised for his work investigating the chemical, physical and biological properties of nanomaterials.  He has also created new nanomaterials with possible uses in transparent conductors and radio frequency transistors.

The twenty-one MacArthur Fellows for 2014 were announced on Wednesday 17th September. Twelve men and nine women have been awarded fellowships across an extremely diverse field, including artists, scholars and professionals. The foundation aims to reward exceptional individuals for their imagination and tenacity through a no-strings attached grant of $625,000 (roughly £384,000) over 5 years.

 “Those who think creativity is dying should examine the life’s work of these extraordinary innovators who work in diverse fields and in different ways to improve our lives and better our world,” said Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows Program.

Winners this year include a composer, an environmental engineer, a historian of modern Europe and a mathematician. Fellows have also been recognised for their work to address social problems, such as affordable housing and violence against women. For example, Social Psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhard has investigated how unconscious racial stereotypes affect the criminalization of African-Americans.

Members of this year’s class join 897 other MacArthur Fellows whom the Program has recognized since it began in 1981. The foundation was set up by American philanthropists John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, and has spent over $1 billion providing grants to Fellows, addressing International and US issues and supporting free journalism.