Tag Archives: MacArthur Fellowship

Lynsey Addario And Maternal Mortality: The NPR Interview

NPR is an auditory medium. But its website complements its radio features. A few days ago, that site featured some stunning photos.

They were taken by Lynsey Addario. The Staples High School graduate has spent the past decade — in addition to covering life in Afghanistan and the plight of Syrian refugees, for publications like the New York Times, National Geographic and Time magazine — documenting the brutal reality of maternal mortality.

Every 2 minutes around the world, a woman dies in childbirth or from pregnancy-related causes. Since 2009, Addario has photographed overcrowded hospitals, bloody delivery room floors and midwives in training.

An overcrowded maternity ward in India. (Photo/Lynsey Addario, courtesy of NPR)

She’s done it thanks to a MacArthur Fellowship. Known popularly as a “Genius Grant,” the no-strings $625,000 award can be used however the recipient sees fit.

Addario has pursued a subject that is not “sexy.” It’s one many editors, readers — even male photojournalism colleagues — don’t understand.

In the NPR interview, Addario talks about a formative experience: watching a woman in Sierra Leone hemorrhage and die.

She describes the intimacy of her photos; her own experience becoming a mother while documenting maternal mortality, and the reality that childbirth is not a Hallmark card.

It’s a fascinating story. Thanks to NPR, it is seen — as well as heard.

(Click here for the full interview. Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

The aftermath of a stillbirth in a Somali hospital. The woman survived, thanks to skilled midwives. (Photo/Lynsey Addario, courtesy of NPR)

Andrea Dutton: Westport’s Newest Genius

Andrea Dutton is a genius.

That’s not just hyperbole. The 1991 Staples High School graduate — visiting associate professor of geology at the University of Wisconsin, who investigates changes in sea levels and ice sheet mass — is one of 26 people chosen as 2019 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

That’s the official wording. The world calls them “genius grants.”

MacArthur fellowships honor “extraordinary originality.” The award is pure genius: a no-strings grant of $625,000, distributed over 5 years.

The fellowships — announced yesterday — went to men and women whose work “pushes the boundaries of disciplines and genres,” says the New York Times.

They include a theater artist who incorporates artificial intelligence into performances; novelists, musicians, scientists, historians, legal advocates, community activists and others. All were chosen “at a moment in their careers when the award might make a difference,” and range in age from 30 to 67.

Andrea Dutton with a fossilized coral reef in the Florida Keys. (Photo/Joshua Bright for Redux)

Potential geniuses are suggested by hundreds of anonymous nominators, in many fields. The final selection is made by a committee — also anonymous.

Dutton calls herself a “detective collecting clues to solve the puzzle of earth’s climate history.

The paleoclimatologist’s work has immense real-life implications. Her reconstruction of sea levels over thousands of years can help predict future rises. In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine listed her among “25 People Shaping the Future in Tech, Science, Medicine, Activism and More.”

Dutton is not Westport’s first MacArthur genius. Photojournalist Lynsey Addario — a fellow 1991 Staples grad — received a fellowship in 2009.

(Click here for the stories of all 26 new MacArthur fellowship awardees. Hat tips: Sandee and Chuck Cole.)