MacArthur Foundation reveals 2010 ‘genius grants’

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Receiving word of the MacArthur was “like receiving a phone call from the Greek gods,” Dawdy said, because “someone you can’t see is pulling the strings of your fate.”

Winners have no idea they’ve been nominated. Nominators are pledged to secrecy.

There’s “nothing more fun” than informing the winners, Gallucci said. He broke the news to four grantees this year, he said, first making sure they weren’t driving or holding a baby.

Subterfuge can be involved in the notification.

MacArthur winner Amir Abo-Shaeer, a public high school physics teacher in California, said he was expecting a call from a college student named Liz Brooks who was interested in his work when the foundation called to tell him about the grant.

There was no Liz Brooks. She was a creation of the foundation to get the busy teacher on the phone. “I am prepared to lie like a rug,” admitted Gallucci, who notified Abo-Shaeer of the grant.

Abo-Shaeer, who left a job in industry to become a teacher, wants to train other educators about his innovative curriculum and the importance of recruiting and inspiring female students.

“Right now I teach full time. I can relieve my schedule to be a teacher trainer. If I have an idea that’s exciting or interesting, I can try it,” he said.

The MacArthurs have been nicknamed “genius grants,” which can be problematic for winners.

Simon, the HBO producer, said his wife would like to thank the foundation for “five years of fresh material.” The morning after she heard the news, Simon’s wife, best-selling novelist Laura Lippman, told him, “Hey Genius, you forgot to take the trash out last night.”

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AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.

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Online:

MacArthur Foundation: http://www.macfound.org

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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