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Ornithologist J. Drew Lanham awarded 2022 MacArthur Genius grant

Fern Davies

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Clemson wildlife and ecology professor J. Drew Lanham was named a MacArthur Fellow on Oct. 12, the first professor at the university to receive the award.


Known as a “genius grant,” the fellowship comes with a no-strings-attached $800,000 award for Lanham to further use his “creative instincts for the benefit of human society.”

“I think the genius of it is really in the foundation having the vision to see that you can give license and liberty to thinking in a way that is truly saying to a group of people, ‘Look, you’re doing some unique work here that moves the world’s needle toward some better place. We want to support you in that and do so in a way that can be significant and life-changing and allow you to focus on that for a significant amount of time,’” Lanham said in a news release. “So, that’s the real genius to me: that the MacArthur Foundation sees fit to fund dreams.”

His research and teaching focuses on the impacts of forest management on birds and other wildlife. His writing combines his perspective as a Black American and love of conservation.


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