Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sign language researcher Carol Padden wins MacArthur genius grant

From NBC San Diego:

Carol Padden (pictured), Ph.D. will receive $500,000, no strings attached, in recognition of her research on the structure and evolution of sign language.

The grant is administered by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The grant will be paid out over the course of five years. Padden can choose to spend the money in anyway she wishes.

Padden says she is still taking the news in and is unsure how she will spend her "genius grant".

"I have a few wild ideas that I have been obsessing about for a long time'" Padden said. "This grant offers freedom and validation. I’m going to continue what I am doing, just a little a bit different."

Padden has traveled the to many different parts of the world to research other types of sign languages. About eight years ago, Padden started working with a new sign language in Southern Israel, developed in the last two or three generations.

The professor said she would like to keep traveling to learn more about other sign languages, in different parts of the world, including Ghana, Bali and the Amazon.

"This will let me explore some of the answers to my questions, Padden said."

The grant was also bestowed on 22 others, various other fields ranging from typesetting to biomedical animation.

Each will receive $500,000 for their various projects.

Padden is the 16th UC San Diego scholar to receive the MacArthur grant and the seventh from UCSD's Social Sciences division, according to university spokeswoman Inga Kiderra.

Padden was born deaf to deaf parents, but spent most of her educational years in public school, something she describes as being "akin to being abroad." She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.S. 1978 and earned a Ph.D. from UC San Diego in 1983.