'Genius grant' Awarded to Deep-Sea Explorer

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
A technologist, a deep-sea explorer and a computer scientist are among 25 people to each receive a $500,000 US so-called "genius grant" for exceptional talent and creativity in their fields of study, a private U.S. philanthropic foundation announced. The fellowships awarded by the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, worth a total of $12.5 million US, are given to individuals who display "exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work," the organization said in a statement. Grant winner and deep-sea explorer Edith Widder, 55, of Ft. Pierce, Fla. has helped design and invent new submersible vehicles and devices used to observe and collect data in a bid to reverse the decline of marine ecosystems worldwide. An expert in bioluminescence (chemically made light given off by ocean organisms), Widder last year founded the Ocean Research and Conservation Association, which is developing state-of-the-art sensors and systems to assess water quality and ecosystem health.

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