The Columbia College Committee on Honors, Awards and Prizes has announced the names of the Class of 2013 valedictorian and salutatorian. The valedictorian is Leah Friedman, a Russian Literature and Cultures major from New York. The salutatorian is Yoshiaki Ko, a Neuroscience and Behavior major from California.
Friedman "is precisely the kind of student Columbia should be proudest of," according to a faculty member in the Slavic Languages Department. She is "profoundly gifted and naturally inclined to use those daunting intellectual gifts to inquire, refine, disentangle, rethink, pursue, conceptualize, articulate, enliven interlocutors, make them laugh, make them think, make them wonder, make them uncertain, and make them care about the truth," the faculty member said. She has lived in Vermont and in New Zealand.
Ko, who was born in Japan and moved to California at age 8, in 2000, is an accomplished pianist and an extraordinary scientist. He has worked in the laboratory of Psychology Professor Hakwan Lau since his first year, and has already made a significant impact in his field. “Yoshi has already published a paper with himself as first author in which he conducted a sophisticated signal detection theoretic analysis to explain a classic clinical condition regarding visual consciousness - blindsight," Professor Lau said. "He came up with original computer simulations to demonstrate that his model can quantitatively account for the psychophysical behavior of the subject. This work has been considered by many of my colleagues in the field to be highly important and has already generated citations in print.”