Israeli American professor receives ‘genius grant’

(JTA) — An Israeli-American university professor was one of 23 Americans to receive a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

Maria Chudnovsky, 35, who was born in Russia, and immigrated with her family to Israel when she was 13, researches graph theory, in the field of theoretical mathematics. She received her undergraduate degree and Masters degree at the Technion in Haifa and a doctorate at Princeton University. She has worked as a professor at Columbia University since 2006.

The $500,000 grants, the MacArthur Foundation fellowships for extraordinary originality, were awarded Monday.

Since 1981, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards the grants to individuals who “have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” according to the foundation website.

The nomination process is anonymous and those being considered for the reward do not know anything about it until they get a phone call saying they have won a fellowship, according to reports.

Other 2012 winners include: mandolin player and composer Chris Thile; Washington Post reporter on military affairs David Finkel; and geriatric doctor Eric Coleman whose work helps patients transition from hospital to home.

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