21 MacArthur ‘Genius grant’ winners — including a neuroscientist, econometrician and historian — receive $625K each

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A legal scholar who studies how Black and other disadvantaged families are deprived of their real estate wealth.

A cognitive neuroscientist who taps a range of technologies to understand how the brain functions.

A jazz singer who is expanding what the art of song can achieve.

These are among winners of this year’s MacArthur Fellowships, popularly known as “genius grants.” Each will receive $125,000 annually for the next five years, with no strings attached, from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“In the midst of civil unrest, a global pandemic, natural disasters, and conflagrations, this group of 21 exceptionally creative individuals offers a moment for celebration,” said Cecilia Conrad, managing director of the MacArthur Fellows, in a statement.

“They are asking critical questions, developing innovative technologies and public policies, enriching our understanding of the human condition, and producing works of art that provoke and inspire us.”

Following is the complete list of this year’s winners. For more information, visit www.macfound.org.

Isaiah Andrews, 34, Cambridge, Mass.

Andrews, an econometrician, develops “reliable and broadly applicable methods of statistical inference to address key challenges in economics, social science and medicine,” according to the foundation.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, 43, Chapel Hill, N.C.

The sociologist, writer and public scholar explores where issues of race, gender, education and digital technology converge. Her work spans academic scholarship to social media platforms.

Paul Dauenhauer, 39, Minneapolis.

A chemical engineer, Dauenhauer is developing technologies for turning materials drawn from organic, renewable sources into the “chemical building blocks” for items now made from fossil fuels.

Nels Elde, 47, Salt Lake City.

An evolutionary geneticist, Elde explores the processes that allow organisms to attack others or defend themselves.

Damien Fair, 44, Minneapolis.

Fair, a cognitive neuroscientist, investigates brain functioning via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), sophisticated mathematical