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Five Harvard Professors Win Guggenheim Fellowship for Research Under ‘Freest Possible Conditions’

Five Harvard professors won the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for research, per a Thursday announcement.
Five Harvard professors won the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for research, per a Thursday announcement. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Patil Djerdjerian and Kenith W. Taukolo, Crimson Staff Writers

Five Harvard professors were awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for research, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced on Thursday.

The 2024 Harvard recipients were Tracy K. Smith ’92, a professor of English and African and African American Studies; Carola E. Suárez-Orozco, a professor in residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Kosuke Imai, a professor of Government and Statistics; James D. Wood, a professor of the practice in English; and Tiya A. Miles ’92, a professor of History.

Each will receive “​​a monetary stipend to pursue independent work at the highest level under the freest possible conditions,” according to a statement released by the foundation.

The Harvard recipients were selected alongside 183 other academics from a pool of 3,000 candidates after an application and peer review process. The 99th annual recipients represent 52 fields across 84 academic institutions.

Recipients said they were honored to receive the fellowship and voiced excitement at the opportunity to focus more time on their research.

“I’m absolutely delighted to get the fellowship,” Wood said, who received the Guggenheim for the memoir he is writing.

“It’s principally about my late father who died in 2021, who was a quite mysterious and enigmatic figure,” Wood said. “Growing up with my father was a strange experience because he was, in some ways, very present as a father, and in other ways, quite absent as a human being.”

Wood said he hopes that through the fellowship, he can tell his father’s “extraordinary tale.”

“It’s a human story, but it’s also a social and political story at the same time,” he said.

Imai pointed to the motivational effect of being selected for the fellowship.

“I feel very encouraged to pursue these research projects that I put in my proposal, so I’m really excited about that,” he said.

Imai said he plans to use the fellowship to continue his research on “developing computational algorithms to detect gerrymandering in legislative redistricting.”

“In some states, the politicians draw congressional district lines in a way that favors a certain group of voters who support a particular party or certain racial groups,” Imai said. “My collaborators and I developed a computational algorithm that basically tries to detect some of these attempts to do gerrymandering, so I’m planning to apply this to look at racial gerrymandering.”

Suárez-Orozco researches youth and immigration, spearheading a five-year longitudinal study of “400 newcomer immigrants from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, China, Mexico and Central America” to identify what “factors helped them adapt well.”

“Families often come out of stresses and traumas” that “educators are not very well aware of,” Suárez-Orozco said.

Suárez-Orozco said that through the fellowship, she wants to “do the deep thinking to pull together a synthetic, hopefully useful text” that is “practical, and well-written, and easy to understand” to target the “psychosocial issues” arising from the migratory experience.

Smith wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson that she will be “exploring various spiritual and vernacular vocabularies for collective or transpersonal consciousness in Afro-diasporic poetry.”

“I hope that eventually this research will culminate in a hybrid volume of poems and essays,” she added.

Miles — whose research centers around the histories of African American, Native American, and American women — wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson that she plans to study “the lives and writings of Harriet Jacobs and Harriet Beecher Stowe.”

Miles wrote that her fellowship research will center around these “two women who wrote significant books in the fight against racial slavery in the 1850s and early 1860s.”

“I am going to be considering ways in which their visions and approaches differed as they attempted to expose this reality and make contributions to the moral movement of their age,” she wrote.

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