Four UCLA faculty members are among a distinguished group of 175 of scholars, artists and scientists from the United States and Canada to receive 2015 Guggenheim Fellowships. The new fellows were chosen from a pool of more than 3,100 applicants. UCLA has the most 2015 Guggenheim fellows of any higher education institution in California, and is tied with Columbia University for the most in the nation.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowships, now in their 91st year, recognize innovative scholars who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and exceptional promise. The foundation, which provides grants to support each fellow's work, has distributed more than $325 million in fellowships to nearly 18,000 individuals since its establishment in 1925.

“These artists and writers, scholars and scientists represent the best of the best,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the foundation. “It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

This year's UCLA recipients and the projects they will pursue as Guggenheim Fellows are:

Paula Diaconescu

Diaconescu is an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry whose research involves the design and synthesis of complexes with specific geometric and electronic properties. Her current research efforts focus on the design of reactive metal complexes with applications to small molecule activation, organic synthesis, and polymer formation. Her Guggenheim project will concern redox switchable catalysis. She joined UCLA’s faculty in 2005. Her honors include a research fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This new area of chemistry is inspired by nature’s sensory processes and uses external agents as switches in order to control the catalytic activity of multiple species with different reactivity.

Mary Kelly

Kelly, an artist and distinguished professor of art and critical theory, is well-known for her theoretical writing informed by psychoanalysis and feminism. With her grant, Kelly will complete the "Circa Trilogy," which will address two questions: What defines an era and for whom? She will create two large-scale works in compressed lint with projected light. “Circa 1940” will be based on an archival photograph of the Holland House Library in Kensington, London, in the aftermath of bombing in WWII. Kelly will base “Circa 2011” on Internet images of Tahrir Square, Cairo, at the inception of the uprising. Both will be installed together with “Circa 1968,” a work she created in 2004 that’s based on an iconic image of Paris on the eve of a general strike that took place on May 13, 1968. The installation will include a live performance of an original score for piano, electronic cello and synthesizer.

Sarah Abrevaya Stein

Stein, a history professor, vice chair of the history department and holder of the Maurice Amado Endowed Chair in Sephardic Studies, will work on a book tracing the intertwined histories of four generations of a single Sephardic family, the larger community of which the family was a part and the dramatic ruptures that transformed southeastern Europe and the Judeo-Spanish diaspora over the course of the 20th century. “Family Papers: a Sephardi Journey Through the Twentieth Century” will be based on the family’s archive and will address how this collection knit together  family members even as the historic Sephardi heartland of southeastern Europe was unraveling. An award-winning author, Stein is also working on a forthcoming book, "Extraterritorial Dreams:  European Citizenship, Ottoman Jews, and the Calamitous Twentieth Century."

Brenda E. Stevenson

Stevenson, a history professor specializing African-American history, will work on “Fanny’s World of Women: Generations of Enslaved Black Women in North America.”  The book will focus on the lives of slave women in the United States from colonial times through the antebellum era. During the fall, Stevenson will be in residence at the National Humanities Center at Research Triangle in North Carolina. During winter and spring quarters in 2016, she’ll be working at the American Academy in Berlin. The author of several award-winning books, Stevenson was also selected for a fellowship for the next academic year at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Studies and Behavioral Studies, but she is deferring that honor to the 2016-17 academic year. Her forthcoming book is entitled “What is Slavery?”

The UCLA scholars join a prestigious group of Guggenheim Fellows from all sectors of the arts and sciences, including Ansel Adams, W.H. Auden, Aaron Copland, Linus Pauling, Philip Roth and James Watson.

The list of all 2015 Guggenheim Fellows can be found here.