The MacArthur Fellowships — popularly known as the "genius awards" — are given each year to support outstanding and innovative work in such fields as research science, literature, the visual and performing arts and health care. The associated cash grants, paid out over five years, are intended to allow the Fellows to devote themselves to their creative work free (temporarily) from worries about making a steady living. The 2006 MacArthur Fellowships are worth $500,000.
MacArthur Fellows are nominated by experts in their fields. One cannot apply for a fellowship and potential recipients do not know they are being considered.
More information about the MacArthur Fellowships and the 2006 Fellows can be found at www.macfound.org.