OXFORD, Ohio — A linguist at a southwest Ohio college has been named a MacArthur Fellow and will receive the so-called “genius grant” to continue his work to restore use of an indigenous language.

Miami University Professor Daryl Baldwin is among the 2016 recipients of the fellowship awarded to individuals every year by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The 23 latest recipients were named Thursday.

The fellowship comes with a $625,000 stipend.

Baldwin, 53, is working to restore the language of his people— the Miami “Myaamia” Nation of Oklahoma —through his education and research as the director of the Myaamia Center at Miami. He came to Miami in 2001 to run the center, which is a joint venture between the tribe and the Oxford school.

The language and cultural revitalization is necessary for preserving the tribe’s identity, Baldwin said.

“Every group wants to thrive and survive,” he said. “The connections that Myaamia people have through their shared history, kinship pride and culture is what really helped us move forward as a tribal community.”

Baldwin received the “surreal” phone call telling him he won the MacArthur fellowship while walking on campus, WHIO-TV reported. According to the foundation, fellows are “exceptionally creative individuals with the potential for important work.”

Baldwin said it’s too soon to say how he’ll use the award but said it will provide opportunities for new areas of development at the center.

“This is a 20-year effort involving the tribe and university and several full-time staff. I have some consulting to do to generate options before I make a determination,” he said.