September 20, 2011/The Detroit News
By Kim Kozlowski
Ann Arbor- Three University of Michigan researchers - all women - have been awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants."
U-M historian Tiya Miles, chemist Melanie Sanford and stem cell biologist Yukiko Yamashita are among the 22 new MacArthur Fellows, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Tuesday.
It is the first time that U-M faculty members have been awarded the coveted grant since 2005. U-M tied Harvard University for having the highest number of fellows in this year's class.
The 2011 winners will each receive $500,000 in support over the next five years to pursue their research, with no strings attached.
"This is a remarkable day in the life of the University of Michigan," said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. "The exceptional contributions of professors Tiya Miles, Melanie Sanford and Yukiko Yamashita deepen our understanding of life - from a single molecule to the sweep of human history."
Miles is a public historian who is reinterpreting the history and diversity of the nation in works that illuminate the interrelationships between the African and Cherokee peoples in colonial America. She is director of the Department of Afroamerican & African Studies in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.
Sanford is an organometallic chemist reigniting research on an important chemical pathway and developing a method to enable modification of complex molecules with important products we use every day, including metal-based agents. She is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry in the university's LSA college.
Yamashita is a stem cell biologist who is explaining the process of stem cell division and its role in age-related decline in organ repair and in the onset of some cancers and other disorders. She is an assistant professor at the U-M Life Sciences Institute and an assistant professor of cell and developmental biology at the Medical School.
The three are among 24 U-M faculty members who have won the MacArthur award since 1981.
"I'm thrilled and delighted to congratulate professors Miles, Sanford and Yamashita. In their work, each of them is making a significant contribution to our understanding of the world," said Provost Phil Hanlon. "The span of fields they represent is a testament to the breadth of intellectual interests on our campus."