Roland Fryer and His MacArthur Fellowship
Roland Fryer might not be a familiar name to many in the Penn State community today, but he received his Ph.D. from Penn State back in 2002. Today, he works at Harvard University as an economics professor. You might be asking yourself, “So? What’s the big deal with a guy who graduated over nine years ago who doesn’t even work here?” The answer to that? Simple. Fryer is one of 22 recipients of the 2011 MacArthur Fellowship, or “Genius Grant.” The Fellows Program “awards unrestricted fellowships to…talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” Basically, the foundation gives out $500,000 over a span of five years to individuals to pursue whatever they’d like to pursue.
In Fryer’s case, it’s economics. At 34, he already has an impressive resume under his belt. When he was 25, he received an invite to join the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, which is one of the most prestigious programs in the United States for research. He was also named to The Economist‘s list of the top 8 young economists in the world.
What he researched was something not many had studied before–economic disparity caused by racial inequalities in American society. He has researched many topics dealing with racial discrimination, education of minority children, as well as labor market inequalities.
In 2008, he conducted a study on paying kids to get good grades. Because of this, he was featured on The Colbert Report.
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Currently, he is one of the frontrunners in research about the racial differences in America with respect to economics. The grant he received will help him in his research and development of his theories.