Two Columbians Awarded MacArthur "Genius Grant"

GSAS Alumna Dr. Marina A. Rustow and Columbia associate professor Kartik Chandran are in excellent company. They are two of the 24 recipients of this year's "genius grant" awards from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The "genius" nickname stems from the unparalleled freedom attached to it. The grant comes with $625,000 over the next five years.

Dr. Marina Rustow ('98GSAS, '99GSAS, '04GSAS) is a Princeton University historian whose work uses the Cairo Geniza to shed new light on the lives of Jews and the broader society of the medieval Middle East. 

"The Cairo Geniza (or Genizah) comprises hundreds of thousands of legal documents, letters, and literary materials... deposited in Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue over more than a millennium.," according to the MacArthur website. "Rustow’s approach to this archive goes beyond decoding documents, in itself a formidable task, to questioning the relationship between subjects and medieval states and asking what that relationship tells us about power and the negotiation of religious boundaries." 

To learn more about her work, directly from the source, check out her interview on NPR's All Things Considered.

Kartik Chandran is an associate professor of earth and environmental engineering at Columbia Engineering. His work focuses on finding new biological, ecological, and engineering means of transforming wastewater from a pollutant to a useful resource.

In addition to speaking about his work in a TEDx Talk, Chandran recently spoke about the award and its impact in an interview on the Columbia Engineering website

"The fellowship is a great honor," Chandran said. "[It] carries with it immense responsibility and provides ever more motivation to continue expanding my scientific horizons and boundaries and help solve global societal and human challenges.”

For a complete list of this year's recipients and their profiles, visit the MacArthur Foundation website.