News release: Rice U. English professor wins Guggenheim Fellowship

Lacy Johnson recognized for memoir and essay work on the nature of justice

lacy johnson

HOUSTON – (April 10, 2020) – Rice University professor Lacy Johnson has won a prestigious 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship, making her one of a talented group of 175 writers, scholars, artists and scientists recognized for their exceptional work by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

lacy johnson

Johnson, an assistant professor of English, is the founder of the Houston Flood Museum and the author of two memoirs. Her recently published book of essays on the nature of justice, “The Reckonings,” was named a finalist in the criticism category for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The highly competitive Guggenheim Fellowship is awarded annually to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions and irrespective of race, color or creed.”

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $375 million to over 18,000 advanced professionals in mid-career, including Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award winners and Turing Award winners. The amount of each grant varies.

This year’s cohort of Guggenheim Fellows is drawn from 53 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields and 78 different academic institutions, chosen from over 3,000 applications.

Joining Johnson in the 2020 group of fellows are writers Celeste Ng, author of “Little Fires Everywhere” (recently adapted for television by Hulu), and leading climate change journalist Jeff Goodell. Other fellows come from a wide variety of backgrounds: astrophysicists, anthropologists, architects, artists and African studies scholars among them.

Past Rice Guggenheim Fellowship winners include Earth scientist Cin-Ty Lee in 2017, computer scientist Krishna Palem in 2015 and computer scientist Luay Nakhleh in 2012.


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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 4 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.