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UNC Chapel Hill Sociology Professor Cottom Named MacArthur Fellow

Tressie McMillan Cottom
Tressie McMillan Cottom was one of 21 people named as a MacArthur fellow on Tuesday.

A University of North Carolina Chapel Hill sociology professor is among the 21 people named Tuesday as MacArthur fellows, awarded a so-called "Genius Grant."

Tressie McMillan Cottom is an author and associate professor at the university’s School of Information and Library Science and a senior research professor at the school’s Center for Information, Technology and Public Life. Cottom is also a faculty affiliate at Harvard University’s Internet and Society Center.

She received a doctorate degree from Emory University in 2015 and writes about education, race, gender and inequality issues. Cottom's writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic and The Washington Post and she has appeared on various news programs, including National Public Radio and MSNBC.

The MacArthur Foundation's description of Cottom's work says she is "shaping discourse on pressing issues at the confluence of race, gender, education, and digital technology. In work across multiple platforms, ranging from academic scholarship to essays and social media engagement, McMillan Cottom combines analytical insights and personal experiences in a frank, accessible style of communication that resonates with broad audiences within and outside of academia."

Her most recent book, "Thick: And Other Essays," that focuses on the challenges black women face, was shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award in nonfiction. It won the Brooklyn Public Library’s 2019 Literary Prize.

Cottom and the other MacArthur recipients will each receive $625,000 over five years to spend as they please.

The Chicago-based foundation has awarded the "Genius Grants" every year since 1981 to help further the pursuits of people with outstanding talent.