Three Stanford faculty named Guggenheim Fellows

April 8, 2016, 12:46 p.m.

Three Stanford faculty are among the 178 scholars, artists and scientists awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship this year.

The fellowship recognizes “mid-career” innovators in the United States and Canada who demonstrate both “prior achievement and exceptional promise” in their fields. On April 6, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation honored Denning Family Provostial Professor of Music Jonathan Berger for music composition, Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Biomedical Ethics Katrina Karkazis for science writing and Assistant Professor of Music Ge Wang for music research.

Berger, Karkazis and Wang were chosen from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants. As Fellows, they will receive grants of varying amounts intended to help them continue their scholarly and creative work. Fellows may use their grants however they wish.

Berger, both a composer and a researcher, explores “how and why humans persistently, even obsessively engage with music,” as he writes on his personal website. His over 60 publications span music, science and technology, delving into a wide range of topics from music cognition to audio restoration.

In one interdisciplinary project, Berger collaborated with Stanford neuroscientists to study the effects of music on the brain. He has also experimented extensively with “sonification,” the use of non-speech audio to communicate information: for example, he helped golfers improve by translating their swings into sound, and helped doctors identify cancerous cells by “sonifying” digital images.

“It’s easy for an artist to be a parasite ‘I need this, and I need that,'” Berger told SFGate in 2007. “I want to contribute to scientific understanding.”

Berger founded the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts, now known as the Stanford Arts Institute.

Karkazis is a cultural anthropologist and bioethicist studying the complexities of testosterone as both a scientific and social concept — particularly in the context of “sex testing” for elite female athletes.

Karkazis received her Guggenheim Fellowship jointly with Rebecca Jordan-Young, an associate professor at Barnard College. Karkazis and Jordan-Young are currently writing a book together on testosterone research, titled “T: The Unauthorized Biography.”

Karkazis’ past research also interrogates issues of sex and gender as they apply to contemporary scientific and cultural debates. In 2008, Karkazis published “Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority and Lived Experience,” in which she investigated controversies around medical treatment for intersex individuals.

Wang is a pioneer at the intersection of music and computer science, or “computer music.” His innovations include the music programming language ChucK and the music app start-up Smule, which released hugely popular mobile apps such as “Magic Piano” and “I Am T-Pain” that collectively have garnered over 125 million users.  

Wang is also the founding director of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, which brings human performers together with computers and custom speaker arrays that the group built specially out of IKEA salad bowls.  

Wang sees technology as enhancing rather than replacing traditional art.

“There’s so much room for everything to coexist, and we continue to add to the palette,” Wang told The Daily in 2012.


Contact Hannah Knowles at hknowles ‘at’

Hannah Knowles is senior staff writer from San Jose who served as Volume 253 Editor-in-Chief. Prior to that, she managed The Daily's news section.

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