An MIT Alumni Association Publication
Two MIT alumni and an MIT professor have won 2012 MacArthur Fellowships, commonly called the Genius Awards. The grant honors U.S. citizens and residents—of any age or professional field—who show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work. Each fellow receives a $500,000 prize to be used without discretion.

Daniel Spielman PhD ’95 is a Henry Ford II Professor of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Applied Science at Yale University. Spielman studies communication, and how it can measure, predict, and regulate environment and behavior. Spielman’s research resolved a long-standing mystery of computer science: why a venerable algorithm for optimization—such as computing the fastest route to a location—tends to work better in practice than theory would predict.

Spielman served as assistant professor of applied mathematics at MIT from 1996-2002 and associate professor of applied mathematics from 2002-2005. [Watch a MacArthur Foundation profile on Spielman.]

Melody Swartz PhD ’98 is an Institute of Bioengineering professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Her research investigates chemical microenvironments, and focuses on the processes of organ development and maintenance, and the immune responses to tumor invasion. Her research has shown that direct mechanical forces can influence tissue vascularization, and that some solid tumors can secrete chemical signals that mimic the mechanisms used by lymphatic tissue. [Watch a MacArthur Foundation profile on Swartz.]

Junot Díaz is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing, Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at MIT. Díaz was honored for his work in fiction writing, which focuses on Caribbean migration and American assimilation. His works include Drown (1996), an anthology of interrelated short stories; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), which follows three generations of a family living in both the Dominican Republic and the United States; and This Is How You Lose Her (2012), a story collection about a young Dominican from New Jersey. [Watch a MacArthur Foundation profile on Díaz.]

In total, 17 MIT faculty and three staff members have won the award, which dates to 1981. In addition to Swartz and Spielman, recent alumni to win the award include:

  • Jessie Little Doe Baird SM '00, head of Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (2010)
  • Emmanuel Saez PhD '99, economics professor at University of California, Berkeley (2010)
  • Nergis Mavalvala PhD '97, MIT professor of physics (2010)
  • Esther Duflo PhD '99, director of MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (2009)
  • Peter Huybers PhD '04, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences at Harvard (2009)
  • John A. Rogers PhD '95, professor of engineering at University of Illinois (2009)
  • Daniel Sigman PhD '97, biogeochemist at Princeton (2009)
  • Marin Soljačić '96, MIT assistant professor of physics (2008)
  • Andrea Ghez '87, astrophysicist at University of California, Los Angeles (2008)
  • Adam Riess '92, astronomer at John Hopkins (2008)
  • Saul Griffith SM '01, PhD '04, inventor at Squid Labs (2007)
  • Yoky Matsuoka SM '95, PhD '98, associate professor at University of Washington, Seattle (2007)



Thu, 10/04/2012 12:11pm

congratulation Daniel Spielman and others how achieve a mile stone in their life I wish you achieve more awards and success .