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3 Harvard Professors Awarded MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grants

BOSTON — Three Harvard University professors are among 22 people awarded the MacArthur “genius” grants Monday.

Economics professor Ronald Fryer, physics professor Markus Greiner and psychology professor Matthew Nock, will each receive the $500,000 award.

Fryer concentrates his research on understanding the basis of racial inequality in America. This has led him to focus on the testing gap between white and black children that begins in elementary school.

Greiner uses ultra-cold atoms to study quantum physics. He’s currently working on a two-dimensional array to trap thousands of these atoms so they can be more easily studied with his recently developed quantum gas microscope.

Greiner wants to set up a lab to try new research that isn’t related to his everyday work.

“As a professor, you often get so tied in to everyday work. It’s important to keep your playful exploration of physics, essentially,” Greiner said.

Nock was awarded the grant for his work on markers that predict non-suicidal self injury, but his ultimate goal is to discover better strategies for preventing all kinds of self-harm, including suicide.

All three professors are under 40 years old.

Nock was awarded the grant for his work on markers that predict non-suicidal self injury, but his ultimate goal is to discover better strategies for preventing all kinds of self-harm, including suicide.

On Morning Edition Tuesday, Nock said he received the good news while driving in his car. When asked how the MacArthur Foundation may have become aware of his work he replied, “I don’t know how anyone is aware of our work, the foundation included,” he said, laughing. “It really is a surprise and a mysterious process.”

The MacArthur Fellowship program often has over 100 active nominators who are tasked with recommending the most creative people in their field and beyond. A small selection committee than narrows the field and makes recommendations to the president and board of the foundation. Twenty to 30 fellows are announced in September each year.

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