The $500,000 grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, based in Chicago, come with no strings attached and are meant to give free support to "geniuses" who could make important contributions in the future.
The recipients this year include Jill Seaman, 57, a doctor whose clinic in southern Sudan has developed novel ways to prevent infectious diseases among semi-nomadic and illiterate populations; ornithologist Richard Prum, 48, of Yale University, who has developed a genetic theory for the evolution of feathers; and New York painter Rackstraw Downes, 69, who produces finely detailed oil-on-canvas landscapes.
"For nearly three decades, the MacArthur Fellows Program has highlighted the importance of creativity and risk-taking in addressing pressing needs and challenges around the globe," said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci.
Also receiving grants were photojournalist Lynsey Addario; digital artist Camille Utterback; health services innovator Rebecca Onie; applied physicist John A. Rogers; geriatric physician Mary Tinetti; investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell; novelist Edwidge Danticat; papermaker Timothy Barrett; and applied mathematician L. Mahadevan.
Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]