WW Fellows Win a Nobel Prize, MacArthur Grants, and Milken Awards

We can all understand the world and universe around us a little better thanks to the work of six Fellows from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation network—work that deservedly garnered some impressive recognition.

James Peebles WF ‘58 has won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos.” Dr. Peebles, the Albert Einstein Professor of Science Emeritus at Princeton University, has been working in cosmology since the 1960s, and his theoretical frameworks underlie current understandings of the universe.

In addition, three Newcombe Fellows were among the 2019 class of MacArthur “Genius” Fellows. Elizabeth Anderson ’86, Lisa Daugaard ’88, and Saidiya Hartman ’90 each “demonstrate the power of individual creativity to reframe old problems, spur reflection, create new knowledge, and better the world for everyone.”

Dr. Anderson is the John Dewey Distinguished University Professor; John Rawls Collegiate Professor; Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. Her work explores the impact different institutions, policies, and social norms have on democratic equality and human flourishing. “She has made pivotal contributions to a number of philosophical debates on such subjects as the ethical limitations of markets, the effects of gendered distributions of power on the production and reception of knowledge, and the concept of equality.”

As Executive Director of the Public Defender Association and lead architect of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Seattle, Washington, Ms. Daugaard is working to establish alternative practices of policing and law enforcement that will better support community health and individuals struggling with substance use disorder and mental illness. She is a former public defender and “skilled at seeing beyond individuals to the systemic problems that inhibit change.”

Dr. Hartman is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her areas of focus include African American literature and cultural history and their telling of life in America after slavery. “She weaves findings from her meticulous historical research into narratives that retrieve from oblivion stories of nameless and sparsely documented historical actors, such as female captives on slave ships and the inhabitants of slums at the turn of the twentieth century.”

Daniel Willever HQ ’16 and Nathan Yaussy TF ’12 were each awarded the prestigious Milken Educator Award. The “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Awards are unrestricted awards meant to highlight early- to mid-career teachers with “already impressive achievements and, more significantly, for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.” There are 40 educators named each year.

Mr. Willever is a social studies teacher and history club advisor at Ramsey High School in Ramsey, New Jersey. “There is no magic bullet for making history relevant to kids today,” Mr. Willever told the North Jersey Record. “I’m not into the dates and places approach. The most important thing is to get students to ask questions about what is going on around them and why.”

Mr. Yaussy is a biology teacher at Fairport Harding Early College School in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. “Nathan makes learning tangible and exciting, both in and out of the classroom,” said National Institute for Excellence in Teaching CEO Candice McQueen. “With every lesson, students develop critical skills to think deeply and make the world a better place.”

“It’s good to know that what I’m doing means something,” Mr. Yaussy told the News Herald.

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation has been identifying leaders, teachers, and scholars for 75 years. Each of these Fellows and their work represent a fraction of the intellectual advances and spreading of knowledge, contributions to our understanding of the world, and advances in their fields that WW Fellows are a part of.


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