One of this year's recipients is Leila Josefowicz, 30, a solo violinist based in New York who travels the world performing with orchestras and conductors. The native Canadian made her Carnegie Hall debut at age 16 and said she finds excitement in playing pieces from modern composers.
"If I'm not worried about playing the circuit just for financial reasons, this can give me a buffer," Josefowicz said. "I'll spend more time studying and listening out there and choosing the composer I want to work with. I'm so grateful to work with composers to bring more concertos to the violin repertoire."
Rachel Wilson, a 34-year-old neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School, said her grant will help pay for experiments she might not otherwise have been able to afford. Wilson studies electrical activity in the brain, and her findings may affect treatments for Parkinson's disease and deafness.
"As scientists we're kind of trained to try to keep ideas in pace with funding," she said. "It's difficult to think about experiments that aren't in your price range, so to speak, and maybe that crushes the creative process."
Associated Press reporters Michael Tarm in Chicago and Matt Moore in Berlin contributed to this report.