School of Education News

UW–Madison’s Barry awarded 2019 MacArthur Fellowship

September 25, 2019
by Eric Hamilton, University Communications

UW–Madison’s Lynda Barry, an award-winning author and cartoonist with the School of Education’s Art Department, is receiving a prestigious 2019 MacArthur Fellowship.

Barry is a professor of interdisciplinary creativity and holds the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art. 

The  MacArthur Fellowships, also known as genius grants, provide $625,000 stipends to be used as the fellows see fit. Fellows are selected by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their exceptional creativity, future promise and potential for the fellowship to advance their work.

Lynda Barry (PHOTO: Jeff Miller)
“Lynda is a creative force of nature,” says School of Education Dean Diana Hess. “Not only is the work she creates beyond excellent, but she is also a gifted teacher who ignites in all of her students a sense that they, too, can create to learn and learn through creating. She has made a remarkable impact on the Madison community, and on the students, staff, and faculty on our campus.”

Another UW–Madison professor, geologist Andrea Dutton, also received a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship.

“The outstanding work of these professors reflects the vibrancy and innovation of UW–Madison,” says Provost Karl Scholz. “Lynda Barry and Andrea Dutton are extraordinary scholars and we are thrilled about this recognition of their work. We are enormously excited to see their remarkable contributions in the years ahead.”

Barry joined the faculty in 2013 after serving as the spring 2012 artist in residence at the Arts Institute. Barry is recognized for her unique style and approachable books and comics.

Her graphic novel “What It Is” won the 2009 Eisner Award for Best Reality Based Graphic Novel. Her other books include “Picture This” and “Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor.” Barry’s work aims to understand and harness the creative process to help students and researchers advance their work in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Barry says the MacArthur is “the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me in terms of being able to facilitate chasing this idea down of what images are, why they exist, and what happens when people finally have access to having them be part of their life again.”

Andrea Dutton
Andrea Dutton (PHOTO: Maggie Steber)
Dutton recently joined the faculty of UW–Madison’s Department of Geoscience after previously working at the University of Florida. Her hire was made possible through the Target of Opportunity Program (TOP), a chancellor initiative that provides funding to departments to recruit faculty who will greatly enhance the quality and diversity of the department.

Dutton is an international expert in sea level rise, and her research has worked to reconstruct the changes in sea level that occurred during past climate changes. By analyzing fossilized coral reefs around the world, Dutton helps predict future sea level rise in a warming climate. She is also a committed communicator who works to share climate research as widely as possible.

She will spend the spring semester in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar working to combine her records of past sea levels with models of the Antarctic ice sheet to better understand how global warming will affect rising seas.

The award “was completely out of the blue. I had no idea, so it is very exciting,” Dutton says. She is still considering how best to make use of the stipend.

“I want to take the opportunity to think outside of the box. I feel like the topic that I work on has such urgency in terms of our action today that maybe one of the best things I can do is help build a whole community of scientists and voices that can help contribute,” says Dutton.

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