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Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

September 23, 2008
CONTACT: Amy Lunday

Johns Hopkins Alumna Receives "Genius" Grant
Chimamanda Adichie
Chimamanda Adichie

Acclaimed novelist Chimamanda Adichie, an alumna of The Johns Hopkins University, is one of 25 scholars, scientists and artists this year to win a MacArthur Fellowship, a $500,000 "no strings attached" award given to people who demonstrate exceptional creativity and promise in their chosen field.

Adichie, who in 2004 earned a master's degree from the Writing Seminars in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, is one of three Johns Hopkins affiliates to receive this prestigious award, announced today by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Other 2008 "genius grant" winners from Johns Hopkins are Peter J. Pronovost, professor of anesthesiology, surgery and critical care in the university's School of Medicine, and Adam Riess, professor of physics and astronomy in the Krieger School.

MacArthur Fellowships provide financial support over five years for the work of individuals selected for their creativity, originality and potential to make important future contributions, the foundation said. A total of 781 MacArthur Fellows have been named since the program began in 1981. Winners do not apply for the grants, and may not even be aware that their names have been suggested by the foundation's cadre of anonymous nominators.

Inspired by events in her native Nigeria, Adichie's writing explores the intersection of the personal and the public by placing the intimate details of the lives of her characters within the larger social and political forces in contemporary Nigeria. Living between the United States and Nigeria for the past decade, Adichie, 31, is widely appreciated for her stark yet balanced depiction of events in the post-colonial era. Her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her most recent novel is Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), which depicts the horror and destruction of the civil war following the establishment of the Republic of Biafra. Her short stories have appeared in such publications as the New Yorker, Granta and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In addition to her degree from Johns Hopkins, Adichie received a bachelor's degree in 2001 from Eastern Connecticut State University, and master's degree in 2008 from Yale University.

Profiles of Adichie are available at www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.4536885/ and www.halfofayellowsun.com/ content.php?page=author&n=1&f=2.

A list of previous Johns Hopkins winners is below. Digital photos of Adichie are available. Contact Amy Lunday at 443-287-9960 or acl@jhu.edu.

Johns Hopkins alumni who previously have won MacArthur Fellowships:

1989 — Leo William Buss, PhD 1979, associate professor of biology, geology and geophysics at Yale University, $230,000.

1989 — Eliot Wigginton, MA 1969, high school English teacher in Rabun Gap, Ga., $285,000.

1991 — Eleanor Wilner, MA Writing Seminars 1964, PhD Humanities Center 1973, poet, $315,000.

1993 — Ellen K. Silbergeld, PhD environmental engineering 1972, toxicologist, University of Maryland Medical School; chief toxics scientist, Environmental Defense Fund; $290,000. [later joined Johns Hopkins faculty in the Bloomberg School of Public Heath.]

1997 — Susan Stewart, MA Writing Seminars 1975, cultural and literary critic and poet; professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania; $280,000.

1997 — Brackette F. Williams, PhD anthropology 1983, anthropologist focusing on cultural identity and social relationships; $285,000.

1999 — Jillian F. Banfield, PhD earth and planetary sciences 1990, 39, associate professor of geology and geophysics, University of Wisconsin; mineralogist who studies the physical and chemical forces that shape the Earth' surface; $290,000.

2002 — Bonnie Bassler, PhD biology 1990, a Princeton University microbiologist, cited for providing new insights into the basic biology and ecology of bacteria; $500,000.

2007 — Lisa Cooper, who completed a research fellowship in general internal medicine and a master's degree in public health at Johns Hopkins in 1993, for her landmark studies designed to understand and overcome racial and ethnic disparities in medical care and research, $500,000. Cooper is a professor of medicine, School of Medicine, with joint appointments in the schools of Public Health and Nursing.

2007 — Ruth DeFries, PhD Whiting School of Engineering 1981, professor, Department of Geography and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, for work that combines expertise in sophisticated satellite-imaging systems and the environmental effects of agriculture and urbanization to make projections of climate change.