The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced religious studies professor José Ignacio Cabezón and history of art and architecture professor Swati Chattopadhyay as two of 173 recipients of their 2015 fellowship last week.

From a group of over 3,100 applicants, Cabezón and Chattopadhyay were selected based on prior achievement and exceptional promise in their respective fields. The Foundation was established in 1925 and has since donated over $325,000 million in grants to almost 18,000 individuals, including Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. Cabezón was one of four recipients in the religion category, while Chattopadhyay was one of two recipients in the architecture, planning and design category.

Chattopadhyay, who is also the chair of the History of Art and Architecture Dept., said she is honored and privileged to have been awarded fellowship with the foundation.
“I have had professors who had received the Guggenheim Fellowship, so this is something to which you aspired,” Chattopadhyay said.

As the Dalai Lama-endowed chair in the religious studies department, Cabezón said he also was honored to receive the competitive fellowship and will use the grant award to research the history of the 1419 Sera Monastery founded in Tibet.

“The fellowship will allow me to spend some sustained research time working on the new book on Sera,” Cabezón said in an email. “Sera was the second largest monastery in Tibet (and probably in the world), with a population of about 10,000 monks. I have been doing research on this institution for almost thirty years.”

Chattopadhyay said she will be putting her grant toward her project studying the infrastructure of the Indo-Gangetic Plains.

“I am studying how the British Empire and the plains of the Ganges were mutually constituted,” Chattopadhyay said. “In other words, how did the empire shape the plains, and how did the river shape the empire.”

Religious studies and feminist studies professor Janet Afary said the fellowship is an honor for Cabezón as well as for his colleagues in the religious studies department.

“It is one of the most important fellowship[s] an Academic can receive in his or her life, usually it recognizes a life time of outstanding research,” Afary said in an email. “The ranking of a department in the U.S. is based on a number of factors one of them is the awards various individuals have won. We currently rank in the top 4-5 of all RGST [religious studies] departments in public universities in the U.S. This fellowship will only solidify that reputation.”

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation President Edward Hirsch said in a statement from the Guggenheim Fellowship that the foundation’s fellows are comprised of “artists and writers, scholars and scientists” who “represent the best of the best.”

“Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group,” Hirsch stated. “It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

A version of this article appeared on the page 9 of Thursday, April 16, 2015’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.