Giving genius its due
By day, David Montgomery is a geomorphologist at the University of Washington's Department of Earth and Space Sciences. By night, he is...
By day, David Montgomery is a geomorphologist at the University of Washington's Department of Earth and Space Sciences. By night, he is a guitarist jamming with a basement band.
Montgomery is a creative genius well-deserving of the nation's most prestigious smart person's prize, a $500,000 award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He is one of 25 scientists, artists and public figures to win the MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the "genius grants."
The money is unrestricted. So are Montgomery's intellectual interests. As a scientist, he studies the Earth's surfaces, once discovering a landslide on Mars the size of the United States.
He's a songwriter and singer in his band, Big Dirt.
He's at work on a book about the nexus between science and religion as it relates to massive floods.
He mixes strong science and oratory, as in January when he delivered to state lawmakers a sharp critique on the relationships between logging and landslides.
The MacArthur Foundation got it right by crediting Montgomery with a scientist's rigor, a historian's curiosity and an environmentalist's passion. He plans to use the money to forge deeper into scientific research, writing and music. True genius has no boundaries.
Nominations for MacArtuhur awards come from a secret panel and deliberations are private. The under-the-radar process allows recipients to concentrate on good works, rather than impressing a committee. It also underscores how good deeds don't always go unnoticed.
Last year, two Seattle scientists — a biologist for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Reserch Center and a University of Washington scientist in robotics and neurology — were recipients.
Montgomery continues this fine tradition. He is due this community's congratulations. May he rock on.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.