Andrea Ghez, the UCLA professor of astronomy and physics who showed that a monstrous black hole resides at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, was named a 2008 MacArthur Fellow. That means $500,000 to use as she sees fit. "I am really thrilled," Ghez told the UCLA Newsroom today. "I will be able to take more risks with my research than I could before. The current shortage of federal funding for science can lead scientists to take fewer risks, but my selection as a MacArthur Fellow will allow me to pursue new ideas and take risks." She was one of 25 new recipients of the so-called genius grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Here's tonight's New York Times web story on the winners. The news embargo was lifted at midnight eastern time and the formal announcement will be made tomorrow.
* And at Caltech: Alexei Kitaev, professor of theoretical physics and computer science, also wa snamed a MacArthur Fellow. "Kitaev explores the mysterious behavior of quantum systems and their implications for developing practical applications, such as quantum computers. He has made important theoretical contributions to a wide array of topics within condensed-matter physics, including quasicrystals and quantum chaos," the school says.