Mary Bonauto and Harvard Math Professor Win $625,000 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grants

Civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto was one of 21 people to receive a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation for her work with same-sex marriage and gay rights. –Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation/AP

Boston civil rights lawyer Mary Bonauto and Harvard mathematics professor Jacob Lurie were among the 21 recipients of the annual MacArthur Foundation “genius’’ grants awarded on Wednesday morning.

The MacArthur Foundation, founded in 1978, annually awards a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant to between 20-25 people for their contributions to fields ranging from international peace to human rights to modern media.

Civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto was one of 21 people to receive a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation for her work with same-sex marriage and gay rights.

Bonauto was named a MacArthur fellow for her work “breaking down legal barriers based on sexual orientation,’’ the MacArthur Foundation writes. In 2003, Bonauto led the court fight for same-sex marriage rights in Massachusetts, and played key roles in expanding gay rights across New England through her work with Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

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“No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto,’’ Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court same-sex marriage case, told The New York Times last year.

Bonauto is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law.

Lurie, another local winner of the prize, won for “creating a conceptual foundation for derived algebraic geometry,’’ the MacArthur Foundation explains.

“Lurie embraces an extraordinary breadth of vision—rewriting large swathes of mathematics from a new point of view—while also working to apply his foundational ideas to prove important new theorems in other areas,’’ the MacArthur Foundation writes.

He graduated from Harvard College and received a doctorate from MIT. Lurie went on to become an associate professor for MIT before taking his current position at Harvard.

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