The so-called "genius grants" are given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation without conditions. A release from the Chicago-based foundation stated the honorees were "selected for their creativity, originality and potential to make important contributions in the future.
Since 1981, 732 people have been given MacArthur Fellowships.
Dr. D. Holmes Morton, of Strasburg, Pa., was named to this year's class for working with rural communities on rare genetic diseases. Edith Widder, from Fort Pierce, Fla., was selected for her work regarding marine ecosystem degradation.
The other 2006 MacArthur Fellows are:
David Carroll, Warner N.H., naturalist author and illustrator; Regina Carter, New York, jazz violinist; Kenneth Catania, Nashville, comparative neurobiologist; Lisa Curran, New Haven, Conn., tropical forester; Kevin Eggan, Cambridge, Mass., developmental biologist; James Fruchterman, Palo Alto, Calif., technologist; Atul Gawande, Boston, surgeon and author; Linda Griffith, Cambridge, Mass., bioengineer; Victoria Hale, San Francisco, pharmaceutical entrepreneur; Adrian LeBlanc, New York, narrative journalist; David Macaulay, Norwich, Vt., author and illustrator; Josiah McElheny, New York, sculptor.
John A. Rich, Philadelphia, physician; Jennifer Richeson, Evanston, Ill., social psychologist; Sarah Ruhl, New York, playwright; George Saunders, Syracuse, N.Y., short story writer; Anna Schuleit, New York, commemorative artist; Shahzia Sikander, New York, painter; Terence Tao, Los Angeles, mathematician; Claire Tomlin, Stanford, Calif., aviation engineer; Luis von Ahn, Pittsburgh, computer scientist; Matias Zaldarriaga, Cambridge, Mass., cosmologist and John Zorn, New York, musician and composer.