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Two UW–Madison professors named MacArthur Fellows

September 25, 2019 By Eric Hamilton

Cartoonist and author Lynda Barry and geologist Andrea Dutton, both professors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, have been awarded 2019 MacArthur Fellowships.

The 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.

“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.”

Photo of Lynda Barry holding an illustrated notebook, surrounded by notebooks and colored pens.

Lynda Barry Photo: Jeff Miller

Barry joined the faculty in 2013 after serving as the spring 2012 artist in residence at the Arts Institute. She is now the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art and a professor of interdisciplinary creativity in the Art Department. Barry is an award-winning artist recognized for her unique art style, creative teaching process 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.

When Barry first heard from the foundation, she says, “the main thing I thought about was all the teachers I’ve had and all my students, and the feeling that I was really going to have the opportunity to devote myself to this work completely.”

Barry intends to use the stipend to advance her teaching and drawing. She is also planning her next book on how the drawing style of children can teach adults how to draw and be more creative.

Photo of Andrea Dutton standing against a wall containing fossilized corals in Windley Key Quarry, Florida

Andrea Dutton Maggie Steber

Dutton recently joined the faculty of the Department of Geoscience from the University of Florida. Her hiring 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.