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Villanova Engineering Alumnus Named a 2013 MacArthur Fellow

Dr. Craig J. Fennie

The MacArthur Foundation recently announced its 2013 class of MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, recognizing 24 exceptionally creative and accomplished individuals from across the country. Among them is Villanova College of Engineering graduate Dr. Craig J. Fennie, assistant professor, Department of Applied and Engineering Physics, College of Engineering at Cornell University. A 1993 Villanova Electrical Engineering graduate, Dr. Fennie earned his master’s degree from the University in 1996 and was awarded his PhD from Rutgers University in 2006. Dr. Fennie is the first Villanova graduate to be distinguished as a MacArthur Fellow.

A computational and theoretical materials physicist, Dr. Fennie’s profile on the MacArthur Foundation website describes his work as “combining the tools of theoretical physics with those of solid-state chemistry to discover new materials with desirable electrical, magnetic, and optical properties.”  One potential outcome of his current research is the possibility of digital data storage being controlled electronically rather than magnetically. “Having guided and encouraged Craig early in his career, I am truly proud of his accomplishments,” says Villanova’s Dr. Pritpal Singh, professor and chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering. Upon learning he received this prestigious award, Dr. Fennie expressed appreciation for Dr. Singh’s “support, guidance, and (most of all) patience during the most critical and difficult stage of my life”  

Nominated anonymously by leaders in their respective fields, MacArthur Fellows receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, which provides maximum freedom for recipients to follow their own creative vision. Recipients of the award represent a spectrum of extraordinarily talented individuals, from choreographers, photographers, composers and writers, to historians, scientists, economists and medical experts. “This year’s class of MacArthur Fellows collectively reflects the breadth and depth of American creativity," says Cecilia Conrad, vice president, MacArthur Fellows Program. "Their stories should inspire each of us to consider our own potential to contribute our talents for the betterment of humankind."

To read more about Dr. Craig Fennie and each of the 2013 MacArthur Fellows, visit