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Pitt Professor Terrance Hayes Among 2014 MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Winners

The Associated Press

Twenty-one people, many of whom are doing work that touches on race relations, same-sex marriage, climate change and other issues that are dominating the news, have each been awarded "genius grants" from the MacArthur Foundation.

The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation this morning has announced this year's recipients of the grants that have been awarded since 1981. Recipients can spend the $625,000 any way they like.

As in years past, this year's winners are an eclectic group, including scientists, attorneys, historians, poets, mathematicians, a cartoonist and a documentary filmmaker.

Those honored include three Pennsylvanians:

  • Steve Coleman, 57, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Jazz composer and saxophonist who is being recognized for creating a "distinctive new sound."
  • Danielle Bassett, 32, Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania physicist who applies mathematical approaches to analysis and modeling of brain connectivity.
  • Terrance Hayes, 42, Pittsburgh. Professor of writing at the University of Pittsburgh and poet whose work has focused on race, gender and family.

The selection process is shrouded in secrecy. There's no application involved. Instead, anonymous groups make nominations and recommendations to the foundation's board of directors.