Conservation analyst joins ranks of MacArthur Fellows for 2003

Oct. 7, 2003
A conservation analyst underscoring the role of fresh water resources in the global economy and ecology is among the new MacArthur Fellows for 2003.

CHICAGO, Ill., Oct. 7, 2003 -- A conservation analyst underscoring the role of fresh water resources in the global economy and ecology is among the new MacArthur Fellows for 2003.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named 24 new MacArthur Fellows for 2003. Each will receive $500,000 in "no strings attached" support over the next five years.

The MacArthur Fellows Program is designed to emphasize the importance of the creative individual in society. Fellows are selected for the originality and creativity of their work and the potential to do more in the future. Candidates are nominated, evaluated, and selected through a rigorous and confidential process. No one may apply for the awards, nor are any interviews conducted with nominees.

Peter Gleick, 46, is a conservation analyst underscoring the role of fresh water resources in the global economy and ecology. Gleick is the co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, Calif.

While water policy is typically considered in many contexts, each tends to be limited in scope: human consumption, ecological habitat, irrigation, power generation, etc. Gleick brings to these considerations a synthetic approach, highlighting the interdependence of security, health, environment, and economic development and the place of water as critical nexus between and among these key sectors.

Gleick is a founder of the Pacific Institute, a center for research and policy on water and climate change. He and the Institute serve regularly as thoughtful and reliable sources for scientific analyses on policy issues related to water, water availability, water quality and water needs in the interest of global security, development and the environment.

He publishes The World's Water, a biennial review of data critical to fresh water analyses. He maintains a project studying the role water has played, past and present, in shaping international conflict.

He regularly analyzes policy proposals and decisions, consistently addressing the current politics of water with its emphases on creating new water supplies (e.g., dam construction) over decreasing consumption and more efficient uses of existing resources.

Throughout, Gleick argues that access to sufficient quality and quantity of water is a basic right, an essential consideration at the core of local, national, and international fresh water policy.

By defragmenting the social, political, economic, and environmental considerations determining water resource development and allocation, Gleick has established a standard and a framework for water policy decisions today and in the future.

Peter Gleick received a B.S. (1978) from Yale University, and an M.S. (1980) and a Ph.D. (1986) from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1987, Gleick co-founded the Pacific Institute of Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California, and currently serves as president. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including The World's Water: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources (1998, 2000, 2002). Gleick was elected an Academician of the International Water Academy, in Oslo, Norway (1999) and appointed to the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academy of Sciences (2001).

About the awards

Each new recipient first learned of being named a MacArthur Fellow during a phone call from the Foundation. "The call comes out of the blue and can be life-changing," said Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation. " The Fellowship offers highly creative people the gift of time and the unfettered opportunity to explore, create, and accomplish."

Other recipients this year included:

* a blacksmith exploring the expressive qualities of metal (Tom Joyce)
* a biomedical engineer employing the biophysics of noise to enhance motor control (James Collins)
* a sculptor creating exuberant, gravity-defying work (Sarah Sze)
* a biophysicist tracking the behavior of individual molecules (Xiaowei Zhuang)
* a short story writer celebrating the complexity of life's most ordinary moments (Lydia Davis)
* a gerontological nurse improving health care for older adults suffering from cancer (Sarah Kagan)
* an archaeologist providing new insights into the organization of the world's first cities (Guillermo Algaze)
* an historian writing about Egyptian identity and modern Islamic society (Eve Troutt Powell)
* a science exhibit artist illuminating the order and chaos of the natural world (Ned Kahn)

The MacArthur Fellows Program places no restrictions on how recipients may use the $500,000, and no reports are required. Rather, the stipend is an expression of confidence that the recipients know how to make best use of the Fellowship's resources and the visibility it can bring to advance their distinctive efforts. Just as there are no restrictions on how the Fellows use their awards, there are no constraints on the kinds of creativity that are recognized.

"The annual announcement of the MacArthur Fellows is a special opportunity to celebrate the creative individual in our midst," said Fanton. "For over two decades, the MacArthur Fellows Program has been at the core of the Foundation's efforts to recognize and support individuals who inspire us. The new MacArthur Fellows illustrate the Foundation's conviction that talented individuals, free to follow their insights and instincts, will make a difference in shaping the future."

Daniel J. Socolow, the director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, noted that "the 24 new Fellows for 2003 are men and women between the ages of 22 and 63 engaged in vastly different areas of work. What they share in common, however, is that each is highly focused, tenacious, and creative. As in past years, these Fellows are not only very good at what they do, their work is distinctively bold and original."

Several hundred nominators assist the Foundation in identifying people who should be considered for a MacArthur Fellowship. Nominators, who are appointed each year and serve anonymously, are chosen from many fields of endeavor and challenged to identify people who demonstrate exceptional creativity and promise.

A 12-member Selection Committee, whose members also serve anonymously, meets regularly throughout the year to review nominee files, narrow the list, and make final recommendations to the Foundation's Board of Directors. Typically, between 20 and 25 Fellows are selected each year.

The MacArthur Fellows Program was the first major grantmaking initiative of the Foundation. The inaugural class of MacArthur Fellows was named in 1981. Including this year's Fellows, 659 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82, have been named MacArthur Fellow since the inception of the program in 1981.

About the Foundation

The year 2003 is one of particular significance for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, marking its 25th year of grantmaking. As one of the nation's largest private philanthropic foundations, MacArthur has awarded more than $3 billion in grants since it began operations in 1978, and today has assets of approximately $4 billion.

The Foundation believes its grantmaking is most effective when focused upon a relatively few areas of work, combined with sufficient resources over a long enough period of time to make a measurable difference. Through the support it provides, the Foundation fosters the development of new knowledge, nourishes individual creativity, helps strengthen institutions, participates in the formation of effective policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media. Annual grantmaking totals approximately $175 million.

The Foundation makes grants through three other programs in addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program. The Program on Human and Community Development supports organizations working primarily on national issues, including community development, regional policy, housing, public education, juvenile justice, and mental health policy.

The Program on Global Security and Sustainability supports organizations engaged in international issues, including peace and security, conservation and sustainable development, population and reproductive health, and human rights.

The General Program supports public interest media and the production of independent documentary films.

The Foundation is named for John D. MacArthur (1897-1978), who developed and owned Bankers Life and Casualty Company and other businesses, as well as considerable property in Florida and New York. His wife Catherine (1909-1981) held positions in many of these companies and served as a director of the Foundation.

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