The MacArthur Foundation announced the 2016 MacArthur Fellows today, commonly known as the “genius grants,” and this year’s class includes visionary Asian American graphic novelist, Gene Luen Yang. Gene and 22 other Fellows will receive a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant for their exceptional creativity and potential for future contributions to their fields.
Gene Luen Yang is a graphic novelist harnessing the power of the graphic novel as a means for exploring history and multicultural experiences as well as a creative instructional medium for children and young adults. He aims to change our understanding of different cultures and people, and is an advocate for diverse characters and diverse writers in children’s and young adult literature. He is one of the writers of DC Comics’ New Super-Man, which features a new Chinese protagonist, Kenan Kong from Shanghai.
Additionally, there are three Fellows in the 2016 class who hail from Asia: Indian scientists Subhash Khot and Manu Prakash, and Chinese scientist Jin-Quan Yu.
Subhash Khot is a theoretical computer scientist and the architect of the Unique Games Conjecture, an innovative and bold game-changer in the field of computational complexity that has major implications for the study of computers’ ability to solve problems quickly and accurately. Using the conjecture, Khot and other researchers have made enduring discoveries in seemingly unrelated areas, such as electoral stability and the structure of foams.
Manu Prakash is a physical biologist and inventorintegrating techniques from soft matter physics, fluid dynamics, and field ecology to create novel tools with the goal of democratizing knowledge of the microscopic world. He is a leader in the “frugal science” movement and the inventor of the Foldscope, an affordable but powerful microscope used around the world in educational settings. He also invented low-cost microfluidic chips that enable widespread collection of samples from infectious insects in remote locations.
Jin-Quan Yu is a synthetic chemistdeveloping groundbreaking techniques that will make it easier to turn starter molecules into useful synthetic compounds. He has taken what once was a laborious, two-step process to functionalize carbon molecules and introduced new ways to add functional groups more efficiently and quickly. His work will facilitate the synthesis of complex molecules used for drug and agrochemical discovery and development.
For more information on the Fellowship Program and all the 2016 Fellows, including bios, high-resolution photos, and videos, please visit http://www.macfound.org/programs/fellows/.
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