A Glenbard West High School graduate now working as a professor of bioengineering in Switzerland is among 23 people named MacArthur Fellows for the class of 2012.
Melody Swartz, 43, a 1987 graduate of Glenbard West is among the MacArthur Fellows chosen this year. Swartz is among a wide variety of winners. This year’s class also includes well-known author Junot Díaz and bluegrass musician and music composer Chris Thile.
The fellows chosen every year receive a five-year grant, which allows them to pursue their “creative activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements,” according to the MacArthur Foundation. The fellows that the foundation chooses to support demonstrate the ability to transcend traditional boundaries, willingness to take risks, persistence in the face of personal and conceptual obstacles and the capacity to synthesize disparate ideas and approaches.
The MacArthur Fellows each receive $500,000, which is paid in quarterly installments over the five-year period, according to the MacArthur Foundation.
Swartz is a bioengineering professor at the Institute of Bioengineering at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland. She has a B.S. from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined the staff a the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in 2003. Her scientific articles have appeared in Science, Nature, Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, and PNAS.
According to the MacArthur Foundation:
Swartz applies principles and methods from engineering and physiology to discover the mechanisms controlling the movement of biologic fluids through tissue and the implications for human health. Her research addresses fundamental questions regarding the chemical microenvironments that bathe solid tissues and the vascular remodeling that regulates them. These studies illuminate the basic processes of organ development and maintenance and, in particular, the immune responses to tumor invasion. … Drawing from a large toolbox of concepts and methods—including biophysics, cell culture, molecular genetics, engineering, and immunology—Swartz is enhancing our understanding of the dynamic process of tissue vascularization and its implications in normal and pathological conditions such as cancer.
The fellows are nominated by a selected pool of people who are invited external nominators, according to the MacArthur Foundation. A selection committee of about 12 people then reviews the nominations and nominating materials and makes a collective decision on each of the nominees.
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