Paul Dauenhauer of the University of Minnesota and Mohammad R. Seyedsayamdost of Princeton University are among the 21 winners of this year’s “genius grants” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Each fellow will receive $625,000 in unrestricted funding over five years.
The MacArthur Foundation awards are given “to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” according to the foundation’s website.
Paul Dauenhauer, 39, is Lanny Schmidt Honorary Professor at the University of Minnesota. His work focuses on converting renewable resources, such as crop waste, into chemicals such as p-xylene and isoprene that can be used to manufacture plastics, detergents, and other products.
“Sustainable catalysis and engineering are central to solving the world’s energy and materials problems, so I appreciate the support and vote of confidence that comes with the award,” says Dauenhauer. “My research group took immense intellectual risk pursuing new ideas such as catalytic resonance theory. It feels wonderful to see this paying off with both major breakthroughs and recognition from the chemistry and engineering communities.”
Mohammad R. Seyedsayamdost, 41, is a biological chemist at Princeton University. He is researching new small molecules that have antibiotic properties against infectious diseases. “It is a real honor to receive the MacArthur Fellowship,” says Seyedsayamdost. “Among the many aspects that make it special are that any area of activity is considered, and the award is truly no-strings-attached.”