Cecilia Conrad, an economist and dean of Pomona College, will serve as the new director of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Fellows Program, informally known as the “genius” awards, the foundation said today.
The fellows program provides “no strings attached” awards of $500,000 to help some of the country’s most talented people pursue creative work. Winners are drawn from all disciplines, including the arts, medicine, and the social sciences. Past fellows have included author David Foster Wallace, poet Adrienne Rich, and Majora Carter, the environmental activist.
Ms. Conrad, who has also taught at Duke and Columbia universities and at Barnard College, focuses in her research on economic inequality. She received master’s and doctorate degrees from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College.
“Many of us fantasize about receiving a phone call from the MacArthur Foundation saying, ‘You have been selected.’ My call did not inform me that I had won a fellowship but rather an invitation to serve as the director of this unique and exceptional program,” she said in a statement. “This is a tremendous honor and a thrill.”