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Stanford bioengineer Manu Prakash named a MacArthur Fellow

Manu Prakash

Stanford's Manu Prakash, PhD, an assistant professor of bioengineering, has received many accolades during his (relatively short) career. Now here's another to add to the list: a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced recipients of this year's award last night.

The foundation honors people who "have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction." As outlined in a Stanford news release, Prakash was specifically cited for research that is “driven by curiosity about the diversity of life forms on our planet and how they work, empathy for problems in resource-poor settings, and a deep interest in democratizing the experience and joy of science globally.”

More from the piece:

Prakash’s studies problems in organismal biology through the lens of physics. He also builds tools and approaches to do field science that are both low cost and extremely powerful, bringing science out of the lab and to parts of the world where traditional tools aren’t feasible.

One example of this approach is a microscope made out of paper with a glass bead for a lens, called the Foldscope. It costs less than a dollar to make and has now been distributed by his lab to more than 50,000 people in 135 countries who use the tool in research and education.


“Manu’s work could help solve some of the biggest issues facing us in global health,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. “His creativity has led to powerful, low-cost technologies that people in remote locations can use to study and treat disease in their communities. These are the kinds of solutions that will bring real change to health care challenges.”

The award comes with a $625,000 stipend over five years. “I can’t say what this will mean to my science as yet but I know for sure we have a lot of ideas brewing,” Prakash said.

Previously: National Geographic: "Emerging Explorer" Manu Prakash helping "lead a new age of discovery, Microscopes for the masses: How a Stanford bioengineer is helping everyone "think like scientists,Stanford bioengineer among Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” and Stanford geneticist Carlos Bustamante named a MacArthur Fellow
Photo by Linda Cicero

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