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Four professors named Guggenheim fellows

Prestigious fellowship award to Mesmin Destin, Vicky Kalogera, Jennifer Lackey and John A. Rogers

Northwestern University faculty members Mesmin Destin, Vicky Kalogera, Jennifer Lackey and John A. Rogers are among the 2021 Guggenheim Fellows recently named by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

This year, the Foundation awarded 184 artists, writers, scholars and scientists from across the United States and Canada. Selected from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants, the fellows were appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

“I am thrilled to announce this new group of Guggenheim Fellows, especially since this has been a devastating year in so many ways,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation. “A Guggenheim Fellowship has always been meaningful, but this year we know it will be a lifeline for many of the new Fellows at a time of great hardship, a survival tool as well as a creative one. The work supported by the Fellowship will help us understand more deeply what we are enduring individually and collectively, and it is an honor for the Foundation to help them do what they were meant to do.”

Mesmin Destin

destin Guggenheim fellows
Mesmin Destin

Destin is an associate professor of human development and social policy in the School of Education and Social Policy and of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He also is a fellow at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research

With a focus on how socioeconomic resources influence life trajectories, Destin studies how environments shape people’s identities and the impact of these dynamic identities on school experiences and well-being. This work suggests that students from modest socioeconomic backgrounds bring unique strengths and encounter a variety of social and psychological hostilities in schools. But, by understanding this challenge, learning environments and institutions can be redesigned to better support student thriving.

With the fellowship, Destin will explore how communities and institutions can leverage multiple social forces and resources to support the achievement and health of students from groups that face marginalization.  

“I am incredibly honored to receive the recognition and support of this award,” Destin said. “It will undoubtedly help to expand the scope of my work and its potential contributions to society during this time of immense social challenges.”

Vicky Kalogera

kalogera Guggenheim fellows
Vicky Kalogera

Kalogera is the Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor of Physics and Astronomy in Weinberg and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).

A leading astrophysicist for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration, Kalogera was a key member of the international team that first detected gravitational waves in 2015 from the collision of two black holes. She also contributed to groundbreaking work leading to predictions and eventual detection of the collision of two neutron stars, detected using both gravitational waves and light. Through her research, Kalogera addresses questions about the origins of black holes and neutron stars, and employs methods from computer science, statistics and applied mathematics.

The Guggenheim Fellowship will help support Kalogera’s work to better understand the spins of stellar-mass black holes.

“I am honored to be selected as one of the Guggenheim Fellows this year and thankful to the Foundation for recognizing my past work and deciding to support it in the coming year,” Kalogera said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity of having more time for research. The astrophysics of black holes is an exploding field, literally and figuratively, and we are at the best-ever time to learn about their origins in the universe. They have only two fundamental properties, their own weight and how fast they spin. The fellowship will allow me to bring together analyses from multiple areas of astronomy to uncover how spin especially can reveal how black holes are born from the deaths of stars.”

Jennifer Lackey

lackey Guggenheim fellow
Jennifer Lackey

Lackey is the Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy at Weinberg and founding director of the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP), an initiative to provide a high-quality, comprehensive liberal arts education to incarcerated students in Illinois. After the program’s early success, NPEP has established a powerful voice in national policy conversations around mass incarceration and criminal justice reform as well as become a national model for prison education.

Lackey works in social epistemology, examining how knowledge and other epistemic properties behave in social settings, including in groups and institutions like the judicial system. She also regularly teaches courses at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Ill., and at the Cook County Department of Corrections.

The award will help support Lackey’s next book, which examines how testimonies are extracted and then used in the criminal legal system. 

“I am deeply honored to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship to support my next book project, ‘Criminal Testimonial Injustice,’ where I examine how testimony is often extracted from individuals in the U.S. criminal legal system through processes that are coercive, manipulative or deceptive, and is then unreasonably taken to represent the testifiers’ truest selves,” Lackey said. “I am especially grateful to my students in the Northwestern Prison Education Program, whose own stories of extracted testimony through false confessions, eyewitness misidentifications and coercive plea deals helped me see how undermining agency through widely used interrogation tactics inflicts a unique and pernicious form of injustice on testifiers.”

John A. Rogers

rogers Guggenheim fellow
John Rogers

Rogers is the Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Neurological Surgery at the McCormick School of Engineering and at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He also is founding director of the Querrey Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics (QSIB).

A biointegrated electronics pioneer, Rogers develops electronic devices that can bend, stretch, twist and sometimes even dissolve harmlessly inside the body. These systems non-invasively integrate with the soft tissues of the human body to provide diverse, clinically relevant diagnostics and therapeutics. His interdisciplinary research combines expertise from nearly every traditional field of study in science and engineering, with outcomes that have changed the way people think about consumer and medical devices.

Rogers will use the fellowship to continue developing wireless, bioresorbable stimulators as bioelectronic medicine.

“This wonderful recognition belongs to a broad, talented collection of students and collaborators over the years — my name just happens to be attached,” Rogers said. “At a personal level, this fellowship has deep significance because my mother won a Guggenheim nearly 40 years ago as a poet, for creative writing.”