Court Date

Four Columbia Law School alums were awarded US Supreme Court clerkships, starting in October. Z. Payvand Ahdout ’13LAW will work for fellow alum Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’59LAW, Jonathan A. Berry ’11LAW for Justice Samuel Alito, Tejas Narechania ’11LAW for Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Samuel P. Rothschild ’13LAW for retired justice David H. Souter.

Project Greenlight

Jonny CohenWhen Anna Stork ’11GSAPP and Andrea Sreshta ’11GSAPP appeared on the ABC reality competition series Shark Tank in February to present their solar­-powered light LuminAid, they accomplished a rare feat: they received investment offers from all five of the show’s “sharks,” including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Corcoran Group co­founder Barbara Corcoran. Moved by the devastating effects of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Stork and Sreshta created prototypes of the portable, waterproof lantern during their time at Columbia.

The Green­Shields Project, a startup founded by SEAS sophomore Jonny Cohen, has been named a finalist for the MIT Clean Energy Prize, which comes with a $275,000 award. GreenShields are aerodynamic devices that affix to the tops of school buses to help improve fuel efficiency; pilot systems are already being tested in select school districts. Cohen was named to the 2012 and 2013 Forbes “30 Under 30” lists.

Good Chemistry

Jacqueline Barton ’74BC, ’79GSAS, ’10HONThe American Chemical Society bestowed its highest honor, the Priestley Medal, on Jacqueline Barton ’74BC, ’79GSAS, ’10HON. Barton is the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry and the chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, where she conducts research on electron transport in DNA.

Literary Lions

Gregory Pardlo, a teaching fellow in the undergraduate writing program and an MFA student himself, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in April for his second book of poems, Digest.

Three Columbian’s took home Yale University’s Windham-­Campbell Prize this spring. Established in 2013, the $150,000 award recognizes outstanding achievement in literature. Teju Cole ’03GSAS won a fiction prize, and adjunct School of the Arts professors John Jeremiah Sullivan and Geoff Dyer won nonfiction prizes.

Claudia Rankine ’93SOA received the National Book Critics Circle poetry award for Citizen, the first work to be nominated in two categories — poetry and criticism.

Up, Up, and Away

Timothy Kopra ’13BUS NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra ’13BUS will return to the International Space Station in November for the first time since 2009. The commander plans to stay for six months to test the effects of zero gravity on humans and explore fluid mechanics and combustion. Kopra will also help repair the space station, which was first launched in 1998.

Dollars for Scholars

Elizabeth Walsh ’14GS and Yuntong Ma ’12CC are among the forty US recipients of this year’s Gates Cambridge Scholarships. Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, the prestigious award gives students the opportunity to pursue postgraduate studies at Cambridge University. Walsh hopes to work with the university’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in pursuit of a master’s of philosophy in social anthropology, while Ma plans to study sociology.

SEAS junior Ritish Patnaik and Columbia College sophomore Brian Trippe received Barry Goldwater Scholarships for the upcoming academic year. The scholarships, which were established by the US Congress in 1986 to support students who intend to pursue careers in the sciences, math, and engineering, are among the most competitive scholarships available for undergraduates.

Flattery for Imitation

Graham Moore ’03CCGraham Moore ’03CC advised viewers to “stay weird, stay different,” during his memorable acceptance speech at the eighty­-seventh annual Academy Awards. Moore won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game. Five of his fellow Columbian’s also received Oscar nominations. Producer Dede Gardner ’90CC was nominated for best picture for Selma; associate producer Mary Prendergast ’93GS, ’98SOA was nominated for best documentary feature for Finding Vivian Maier; and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, produced by Geoffrey Wexler ’93LAW, was nominated for best animated feature. Robert D. Yeoman ’77SOA received a best cinematography nod for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and screenwriter Dan Futterman ’89CC was nominated for Foxcatcher.

Guggenheims and Warburgs

Benjamin Taylor ’92GSAS, an adjunct professor of writing in the School of the Arts, was named a trustee of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The trustees are responsible for selecting the recipients of the annual Guggenheim Fellowships, which celebrate those who have excelled in scholarship and the arts. Taylor received a fellowship in 2012.

David Freedberg, Columbia’s Pierre Matisse Professor of the History of Art and director of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, is the new director of the University of London’s Warburg Institute. The Warburg Institute “exists principally to further the study of the classical tradition” and its influence on European civilization — particularly in the Renaissance. Freedberg will continue to teach at Columbia and direct the Italian Academy.

Think Globally

Rachel Schutt ’10GSAS, the chief data scientist of News Corp, was nominated for membership in the Forum of Young Global Leaders. This division of the World Economic Forum is composed of leaders under forty who have demonstrated commitment to making a positive impact in their respective countries.

Jan Svejnar, a professor of economics at SIPA and the director of the Center on Global Economic Governance, received the 2015 IZA Prize in Labor Economics. He was recognized for his research on the transition from socialist to market economies.


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