Princeton mathematics professor June Huh and alumna Melanie Matchett Wood *09 are among this year’s class of MacArthur Fellows, the MacArthur Foundation announced Oct. 12.
The 25 recipients in the 2022 cohort each will receive an $800,000 “no-strings-attached award” — a substantial increase from $625,000, which was the amount given since 2013 — over the next five years.
Huh is best known for his work in geometric combinatorics, which includes both algebraic geometry and combinatorics, or the study of finite or countable discrete structures. Earlier this year, he was honored by the International Mathematical Union when they named him one of four recipients of the Fields Medal — often called “the Nobel Prize of mathematics.”
“June Huh is a rare and distinctive talent with an inspiring combination of mathematical genius and creativity,” President Eisgruber ’83 said in a University article. “All of us at Princeton are thrilled that the MacArthur Foundation has recognized this extraordinary scholar, and we look forward to what he will do in the future.”
Huh joined Princeton’s faculty officially last year, though he previously had “a series of fellowships and visiting professorships, including multiple stints at the Institute for Advanced Study, during which he taught courses at Princeton,” according to the University.
Wood is also a mathematician. She is a professor of mathematics at Harvard, a role she’s held since 2020. According to her Harvard website, she studies number theory and is “interested in understanding the direction of number fields and their fundamental structures.”
“This award is associated so much with creativity and with people who have original outlooks,” Wood told The Harvard Gazette. “I feel like there is a lot of creativity happening in mathematics and that’s not always seen. It’s particularly important to me that this is recognizing that to solve hard math problems one really needs the kind of originality that this award celebrates.”
In 2018, Wood was named a Minerva Distinguished Visitor at Princeton and spent that fall in residence on campus. Previously, she taught at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Stanford. She was also named an American Institute of Mathematics Five-Year Fellow in 2009, the same year she earned her Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton.
According to its website, the MacArthur Foundation honors “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The awards are meant to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.”