How MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowships Work

By: Melanie Radzicki McManus

Famous MacArthur Fellows

Nearly 900 MacArthur Fellows have been named in the program's first 31 years [source: Lee]. Yet many of the fellows, if not most, are largely unknown to most Americans. Here are a few whose names you might recognize:

  • Twyla Tharp. Tharp, a dancer and choreographer, has choreographed more than 135 dances and five Hollywood movies, plus directed and choreographed four Broadway shows. The founder of Twyla Tharp Dance, her dances are known for their combination of creativity and precision, and for incorporating different forms of movement [source: Twyla Tharp].
  • Marian Wright Edelman. This African-American lawyer, civil rights activist and children's advocate is perhaps best known as the founder of the Washington Research Project, which became the Children's Defense Fund [source: Information Please].
  • Paul Ehrlich. A Stanford educator and best-selling author, Ehrlich first made news in 1968 after penning "The Population Bomb,"which discussed the world's burgeoning population and its effect on resources and the environment [source: Eco Speakers].
  • Susan Sontag. Sontag, a prolific author and essayist, was also known as a tireless human rights activist [source: Susan Sontag].