The MacArthur Foundation named its class of 2023 “genius grant" fellows last month. The recipients join an exclusive group of previous fellows who have demonstrated outstanding talent in their fields. The award acknowledges the fellows’ demonstrated talent and potential as leaders in their fields.

Cellular and molecular biologist Jason Buenrostro is one of this year's MacArthur fellows.

"For me, [being a scientist] is like I'm living in a dream. Growing up, my parents didn't graduate high school or my extended family, none of them went to college, and the probability that that things would work out in this way are just unfortunately low rate," said Buenrostro. "I like to think that what was once a challenge for me to move through the academic system, to sit down on the desk and to listen to somebody go on and on about about something in a classroom, is now a tool in my tool belt."

Buenrostro, who is also a Harvard University associate professor, studies the mechanisms that “turn on” genes, and is the pioneer of a popular method to assess chromatin accessibility across the genome. There are 20 MacArthur fellows across the country, and Buenrostro is one of four based in the Boston area. We talk with professor Buenrostro for Under the Radar's series, “The Genius Next Door.”