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Shiny New 'Geniuses'

This year's crop of MacArthur fellows includes a paleobotanist, a statistician, and a neuroscientist as well as other scientists and writers and artists, according to the MacArthur Foundation that gives out the fellowships. These 13 men and 11 women — now so-called "Geniuses" — will receive a stipend of $625,000 over five years, an award that was recently upped to keep pace with inflation.

"It was amazing to me," new fellow and dancer-choreographer Kyle Abraham tells the New York Times about receiving his phone call from he foundation. "It was a shock. I was laughing about it; I was crying about it, it was so overwhelming. I've been trying to figure out how to pay off my student loans to this day."

Among the two dozen recipients are Kevin Boyce, a paleobotanist at Stanford University, who studies ancient and modern plants in an effort to understand how climate change may affect ecosystems; statistician Susan Murphy at the University of Michigan, who is developing a method to evaluate adaptive treatments for people with chronic or relapsing disorders like addiction or depression; and Sheila Nirenberg, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College, who is studying how the brain processes visual information and ways to restore sight.