Here are the 2017 MacArthur “Genius” grant winners

It’s not often you’ll find these 24 names in the same place. They are historians and musicians, computer scientists and social activists, writers and architects. But whatever it may read on their business cards (if they’ve even got business cards), they now all have a single title in common: 2017 MacArthur Fellow.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced the winners of this year’s fellowship — often better known as the “genius” grant — and the list includes a characteristically wide array of disciplines: There’s painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby, for instance, and mathematician Emmanuel Candès and immunologist Gabriel Victora, among many others.

(Note: The foundation is among NPR’s financial supporters.)

Each of the recipients has been selected for having “shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction” — and each will receive a $625,000 award from the foundation “as an investment in their potential,” paid out over five years with no strings attached.

Jason De León, an anthropologist who studies and preserves the objects left behind by people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, tells NPR’s Kelly McEvers he’s got an idea of how he’s planning to use that money: “Pay off my student loans,” the 40-year-old scholar laughs.

“But you know, really, we see this grant as a way to facilitate the work that we’re doing even more and to push it in new directions,” De León continues. “It’s really exciting to think about all these projects that me and many of my collaborators have been workshopping for years now. We’re going to have resources to do these things.”

You can find the full list of winners below — paired with the foundation’s description of their work and, where possible, links to NPR’s previous coverage to get to know them better.

Read more at NPR.