Southland area MacArthur fellows 2016 from left: Ahilan Arulanantham, Josh Kun, Maggie Nelson, Dianne Newman and Victoria Orphan. Photos via macfound.org
Southland area MacArthur fellows 2016 from left: Ahilan Arulanantham, Josh Kun, Maggie Nelson, Dianne Newman and Victoria Orphan. Photos via macfound.org
Caltech is celebrating its latest stars Thursday after two of the Pasadena school’s professors won MacArthur Foundation “genius grants.”

In fact, five of the 23 MacArthur fellows for 2016 are from the Southland. All win
a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 parceled out over five years.

From California Institute of Technology are microbiologist Diane Newman and geobiologist Victoria Orphan.

The New York Times reported how Newman and Orphan are good friends.

“They told me (about Orphan) before she knew,” Newman was quoted as saying. “I had to exercise patience not to spill the beans.”

The Times added: “Newman said she hoped to use some of the money to encourage talented people to go into science.”

In alphabetical order, here are the Southland recipients:

  • Ahilan Arulanantham, 43, of Los Angeles is a human rights lawyer as director of advocacy and legal director, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
  • Josh Kun, 45, of Los Angeles is a cultural Historian and professor of communication, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC.
  • Maggie Nelson, 43, of Valencia is a writer and faculty member in the School of Critical Studies at California Institute of the Arts.
  • Newman, 44, of Pasadena is Gordon M. Binder/Amgen Professor of Biology and Geobiology in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, at Caltech.
  • Orphan, 44, of Pasadena is James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and Geobiology in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech.

Videos from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation:

ACLU’s Ahilan Arulanantham

USC’s Josh Kun

California Institute of the Arts’ Maggie Nelson

Caltech’s Dianne Newman

Caltech’s Victoria Orphan

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