UCSD professor receives "Genius" award - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

UCSD professor receives "Genius" award

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LA JOLLA (CBS 8) - When you're chatting with professor Carol Padden in her unassuming office on the UCSD campus, you discover she is dedicated, personable and an award-winning genius.

"I think it's debatable whether my daughter thinks I'm a genius, but the award is just a tremendous, enormous honor. I still can't get over it," Carol said.

Professor Paddon, who specializes in sign language, was the recent recipient of a $500,000 award by the MacArthur Foundation for her 20 years of research on the structure and evolution of sign language around the world, from remote villages to our own country. The MacArthur has been dubbed the "Genius Award".

"Sign language does not use speech. It uses hands, the face, the body. How does a language come from something that's not speech? So we can look back and see what all languages have in common," Carol said.

Carol was born deaf to deaf parents and a deaf older brother. Everybody in her home used sign language.

"But I went to a public school with hearing children and I figured out I'm going to have to learn spoken English and do a better job of it. I think it's a mistake to think if you're signing you can't use speech, and I hope work contributed to changing misconceptions about what sign language can do for deaf people," she said.

Professor Padden will take most of her $500,000 award and put it right back into her work.

"It allows you to do things that you can't get funding for. You have a new idea, you want to work with people, you want to go someplace," she said.

Professor Carol Padden is a true genius because she has changed the world without speaking.

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