The MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, which were announced in September 2008, are as unique as their recipients. These US$500,000 awards are designed to encourage intelligent risk taking to advance studies into uncharted territories. The MacArthur Foundation provides funds directly to awardees, over a 5-year period, independent of their institutional affiliations and with ‘no strings attached’. Awards are given to people who show passion and courage in their work, and who are likely to advance their field in ways that reflect new innovation and fresh insight. An anonymous group of leaders nominate individuals that they feel embody the originality and motivation worthy of the prize. Awards are meant to stimulate originality in numerous fields, from farming to musical composition, and include some that recognize the innovative ways used by some scientists to approach biological questions through the novel use of model organisms.

‘Model’ recipients include Susan Mango and Rachel Wilson.