Two Yale alumnae win MacArthur Foundation grants

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Marina Rustow, at left, and Mimi Lien. (Photos courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Historian Marina Rustow ’90 and set designer Mimi Lien ’97 have won 2015 MacArthur Fellowships.

They are among 24 individuals honored this year and each will receive a five-year, unrestricted stipend of $625,000 “to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations,” according to the MacArthur Fellows website.

“These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” said MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.”

Marina Rustow is a history and near eastern studies professor at Princeton University honored for her work “using the Cairo Geniza texts to shed new light on Jewish life and on the broader society of the medieval Middle East.” Read her full biography.

Mimi Lien is a set designer for theater, opera, and dance honored for her “bold, immersive designs [that] shape and extend a dramatic text’s narrative and emotional dynamics.” Read her full biography.

The foundation was founded in 1970 and is named after John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur. Informally known as the “genius grant,” the fellowships are given to individuals who “show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future.” There are no limits on age or area of activity. The fellows are selected through a rigorous process involving thousands of expert and anonymous nominators, evaluators, and selectors. The foundation does not accept unsolicited or outside nominations.

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