MacArthur Fellows include 5 with Chicago ties

October 2, 2012

This year's MacArthur Fellows are the usual eclectic bunch. Commonly known as "genius grants," the list of 23 includes a geriatrician, a stringed instrument maker and an economist. Five people with ties to Chicago also got the nod.

Dylan Penningroth is a historian at Northwestern University. His work explores African-American life during slavery and after the end of the Civil War. He’s shed new light on the period, including how slaves were able to acquire and pass on property.

Dinaw Mengestu is an Ethiopian writer. He came to Illinois at a very young age. Since then he’s explored the condition of Ethiopians in exile and at home.

Musician and composer Claire Chase is a co-founder of the International Contemporary Ensemble. MacArthur recognized her as the group is a significant part of Chicago’s new music scene, including a three-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Melody Swartz is a bioengineer originally from Glen Ellyn now based in Switzerland. Documentary filmmaker Natalia Almada spent part of her childhood in Chicago and current works in Mexico City.

MacArthur Fellows are recognized for their potential to make significant contributions in the future. Grantees are given the financial means to do so – $500,000 paid out over five years, no strings attached.