Of the 24 inspiring individuals who were named this year's MacArthur "Genius" Grant Fellows, four are Columbians—including three alumni! Learn a bit more about them below.
Regina Barzilay '00SEAS, '03SEAS
MacArthur wrote that Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist Regina Barzilay, an Engineering alumna, is "developing machine learning methods that enable computers to process and analyze vast amounts of human language data."
According to edX, for her Columbia doctoral dissertation, Barzilay led the charge on creating Newsblaster, a program that pulls articles from different news services about the same topic and paraphrases them to make a summary.
"Barzilay has made significant contributions to a wide range of problems in computational linguistics, including both interpretation and generation of human language," MacArthur noted on its site.
Columbia Urban Design Director, Associate Professor Kate Orff
GSAPP's Kate Orff, MacArthur wrote, "is designing adaptive and resilient urban habitats and encouraging residents to be active stewards of the ecological systems underlying our built environment."
The site adds that Orff's public space ideas "reveal and revive the hidden ecological systems underlying our built environments and encourage urban residents to become active stewards of their natural surroundings."
She is also the founder of SCAPE, a landscape architecture and urban design studio.
GSAPP Adjunct Associate Professor Damon Rich '97CC
MacArthur highlighted Rich's "vivid and witty strategies to design and build places that are more democratic and accountable to their residents."
The College alumnus and adjunct associate professor at GSAPP is an architect "committed to enlivening bureaucratic systems and applies a democratic approach to a wide range of projects, including designs for public spaces and exhibitions, civics curricula, and regulatory systems."
MacArthur noted Rich founded the Center for Urban Pedagogy in 1997 and helped develop programs to engage community-based organizations and public school students to explore topics like tenant rights, affordable housing, and infrastructure design.
Composer, musician, and GSAS alumnus Tyshawn Sorey is, "assimilating and transforming ideas from a broad spectrum of musical idioms and defying distinctions between genres, composition, and improvisation in a singular expression of contemporary music," MacArthur said.
Sorey has presented and spoken at Lincoln Center, the Village Vanguard, Walt Disney Hall, the Danish Rhythmic Conservatory, the Newport Jazz Festival, Ojai Music Festival, the Banff Center, Cité de la Musique, Hochshule für Musik in Cologne and Nuremberg, and at Wesleyan University, where he received a Master's degree and was appointed an assistant professor of music.
(Photos courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.)