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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.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Roland Fryer
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

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.

About the Author

Meghin Moore

Meghin is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in English. She transferred from the Harrisburg campus as a junior to finish out her schooling at University Park. She has a passion for all things music, fashion, art, and food. She's a Pennsylvania native (born outside of Pittsburgh, and lived in Lebanon for 11 years), but resides in Virginia when she's not in school, and has moved a total of ten times in her life, mostly thanks to the military.


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Staff Picks: Grabbing A Drink With A Prominent Penn Stater

If you had the chance to hear about Penn State from (or throw down at a State College bar for a night with) some of its most prominent figures, who would you want to grab a beer with?

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