There are 26 "geniuses" this year, as in winners of the prestigious MacArthur fellowships, perhaps better known as "genius" grants. (The New York Times notes the nickname "annoys" the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which has been bestowing the fellowships since 1981.) Each 2019 fellow gets a $625,000 stipend; they are known in fields from art to classical literature to restorative justice. "The idea is simple," as NPR explains. "Unlike, say, a professional athlete or tech entrepreneur, excellence in a field such as philosophy or geophysics doesn't exactly pay big bucks. But achievements in any field often require money anyway, whether that may be for materials or simply the free time and ease of mind that come with financial stability." This year's winners were announced Wednesday:
- Elizabeth Anderson, 59, a philosopher who examines "the ways that various institutions, policies, and social practices serve to promote or hinder conditions of democratic equality."
- Sujatha Baliga, 48, an attorney and restorative justice practitioner who works to "interrupt the criminalization of people of color and break cycles of recidivism and violence."
- Lynda Barry, 63, a graphic novelist, cartoonist, and educator who creates her own works and also teaches "the role of image making in communication."