Is Geology Good Enough for the MacArthur Fellowship?

MacArthur Fellowship
Bert from The Big Bang Theory by

Last week’s episode (Season 10 Episode 9) of the Big Bang Theory featured a University colleague, Bert, winning the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship award.  This, of course, left Sheldon Cooper feeling jealous and envious of someone who, in his eyes, is undeserving as a geologist.  Throughout the episode, Sheldon’s friends try to bring him to terms with his jealousy in different ways.  However all attempts seem doomed as Dr. Cooper wallows in self-pity. Indeed, the following paragraphs contain information on the MacArthur Fellowship and give insight into Dr. Cooper’s jealousy.

The MacArthur Fellowship

At the beginning of every fall, the MacArthur Foundation is awarded to 20-25 unique individuals.  These winners have shown “exceptional creativity” in their work and promise for a future of great breakthroughs.  Individuals are nominated each year based on their “exceptional creativity”, having a record of success in their field, and holding promise for their work to lead to something of a breakthrough. 

The grant for the award is a five-year grant for $625,000 and, as Raj stated, the winner of the award can spend it on anything.  This is the unique part of this award.  A Requirement for most awards is that the winner must spend the money on work.  By restricting what the winnings can be spent on, the MacArthur Foundation believes that they hinder creativity. Each winner exhibits the traits of a committed and responsible individual who can make smart monetary decisions.

Consequently to Sheldon’s dismay, the grant is not just for professionals in the scientific field.  Looking at the winners this year.  Their backgrounds are as varied as a playwright, lawyer, chemist, and graphic novelist.  Regarding these differences, each is still using their work to try and better the world, solve problems or help people see justice in one way or another.  Next, we have to ask ourselves a serious question. 

What do you think?    

If Sheldon had won the award, would he have used the money for research, or would he have bought himself some rare Star Trek collectibles?  It is difficult to say for sure.  Maybe someday Sheldon will win a well-deserved award for all his hard contributions to theoretical physics.

Want to Learn More?

Click here to get more information on this year’s winners.