Angela Duckworth Awarded MacArthur "Genius Grant"

Friday, November 15, 2013

Photo credit: Joe Sterbenc

Angela Duckworth, Associate Professor of Psychology, has been named a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. The “genius grant” goes to individuals in the arts and sciences who display extraordinary ingenuity and dedication to their work. Duckworth might call that second aspect of the award criteria “grit.”

A research psychologist, Duckworth was tapped to be a MacArthur Fellow for “transforming our understanding of the roles that grit and self-control play in educational achievement.” Duckworth defines grit as the ability to sustain and work toward long-term goals, despite setbacks, and self-control as the regulation of one’s behavior through concentration and effort. These—more than intelligence, quality of instruction, family life, or income—determine a child’s educational achievement.

“It’s thrilling for us to see an individual as deserving as Angela receive this kind of recognition,” says Steven Fluharty, Dean and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience. “From the time she came to Penn as a doctoral student she has been a valued colleague whose research, engagement, and teaching have been an inspiration to students and fellow faculty alike. It is an honor that we can count her as our own.”

Duckworth is currently researching ways to cultivate grit and self-control in children and in the education system. Through the MacArthur Fellowship she will receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 over five years. The annual fellowship is awarded to individuals who have a track record of compelling achievement and show promise for future advances.

Duckworth earned her doctorate in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 and has been teaching at Penn since 2007.