Stefan Helmreich, associate professor of anthropology, has been awarded the 2006 James A. and Ruth Levitan Prize in the Humanities, announced Philip S. Khoury, the Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.
Helmreich will complete research for his book, "Alien Ocean: An Anthropology of Marine Microbiology and the Limits of Life," a work that will explore how breakthroughs in microbial biology that reveal a new, extreme marine world may "reinstall as well as reinvent broader public sensibilities about the sea as both life-threatening and life-giving, as a space at once strange and sublime."
Helmreich received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Stanford University and joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in the anthropology program in 2003.
The $25,000 prize was established through a gift from the late James A. Levitan, a 1945 MIT graduate in chemistry, who was also a member of the MIT Corporation and headed the tax department at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom of New York City. The prize, first awarded in 1990, supports innovative and creative scholarship in the humanities by faculty members in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.