Queen for a Day

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According to an email circulated among the science types, the CC’07 Valedictorian is Claire Lackner, a published Physics major and Rabi Scholar, and daughter of Lamont-Doherty climate change maven Klaus Lackner. Don’t hate her because she’s smarter than you, or because she’s not on facebook–that’s pretty much par for the course.

Memo after the jump. 

“Date: Apr 13, 2007 5:29 PM

Subject: Physics major Claire Lackner selected as 2007 Valedictorian!

To: undisclosed-recipients

Dear Colleagues:

It is my great pleasure to announce that Ms Claire Lackner,

a senior physics major, has been selected as Valedictorian for

the Columbia College Class of 2007. Please join with me in congratulating

Claire on her outstanding achievements and wishing her well

for her future.

Andrew Millis

Professor and Chair

Department of Physics”

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  1. and  

    nick klagge is salutatorian

  2. Aw man  

    Not on facebook. I would've poked her like woah.

  3. wow  

    and a physics major too.

    • Huh?  

      I thought it was relatively common for the valedictorian to be a Physics major

    • not what i meant!  

      I didnt' mean that women what the people afterwards assumed!! I guess in my mind it was obvious that I was saying that it is surprising that the Valedictorian would be a pure science major as it is much more difficult than the humanities. That is what I was wowing about.

  4. a girl?  

    really? they understand math well enough to be physics majors? larry summers promised me that wasnt true.

  5. fact  

    Fact: The Columbia College Valedictorians of the Classes of 2002,
    2003, 2004 and 2006 - Kareen Rozen, Max Lipyanskiy, Jacob Barandes
    and Jaehee Kim - were Rabi Scholars.

  6. good  

    i approve of her being valedictorian. she's smart and a nice person. and klagge is salutatorian? good for him, although i haven't seen him in some time.

  7. casey  

    I shared one class with Claire. She is, by far, one of the brightest people I've ever met. No kidding. She deserves this.

    And, yes, she's Prof. Lackner's daughter.

  8. a friend  

    claire is doing top notch work in robotics now http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~allen/GRASPIT/

    she id easily a bright light in the very talented physics dept we have here

  9. Not a statistician  

    Is there a correlation between academic success and eschewing a Facebook profile? Look up the Phi Beta Kappa thread from last year-- a good portion of those folks were not on Facebook.

  10. Rabi scholar?  

    What's that?

  11. awesome!  

    in answer to the previous question: http://rabi.columbia.edu/

    hey, she lives on my floor! and wow, what a genius. i will definitely congratulate her the next time i see her. =)

  12. wow!  

    everyone is being supportive and congratulatory!

  13. uggh  

    it's so much easier for hard science students to pull high GPAs than liberal arts majors who have to write essays - not do "right" or "wrong" problem sets

    • holy shit  

      you have to be joking. im sure she can not only write a paper as well as or better than a decent libarts major (since she did take the whole core plus some other libarts courses im sure) but she can also understand more physics and math than like 99% of the world. now while you MAY be able to write a slightly better paper than her, what else can you do? you're probably not capable of understanding half the material our best science students know like the back of their hands. seriously lay off. this campus gives the sciences way too much shit.
      the libarts definitely have their place and its pretty much stupid to argue these majors are smarter than others, but please dont try and ruin someone elses hardwork when realistically you're probably nowhere near being in her league.

    • hahaha  

      oh man, that's hilarious.

      yeah, it's much easier to pull a high GPA in hard science than liberal arts. That's why you get all these English and Art History majors who can't take the rigors of bs'ing their way through papers and have to drop out and become star Physics and Applied Math students.

      Bravo to Claire Lackner!

    • Get over it  

      How many times have you written a paper in two hours or less? Do you think you could pull A's in a physics class with that kind of time commitment? I doubt it.

  14. from  

    personal knowledge, claire is way smarter than me in math and probably could write humanities paper at least as good as mine.

    she wins!

  15. As in physics

    As in physics awesome, but you have to concede that A+s are a great deal more common in Math and Science, so it'd be hard to have a Valedictorian MECLAC major--even if it is much, much easier.

  16. Anonymous  

    Hah, also, her high school science fair project may save the world:


    (Search for "proof" on the above page.)

    Here's to Claire, 'leeter than most.

  17. Congrats Claire  

    Does anybody know when the rest of the Phi Beta Kappas and Latin honors will be announced?

  18. A+'s are  

    A+s are awarded in almost all science and math departments and rarely if ever given in most of the humanities and social sciences at Columbia. There are thus a number of math/science students each year graduating with more than a 4.0 ,which is unheard of among humanities and soc science students. Not to diminish the accomplishments of Claire one bit, but the GPA ranking is institutionally skewed.

    • haha

      as a humanities major, let me tell you, A+s are definitely awarded in history, anthro, english, and religion classes (tho i can't speak for the other depts)!

      there's no doubt in my mind that it's harder to be a science major than humanities... no offense intended to humanities majors--god knows, i wouldnt major in anything else--but it's much easier to BS a paper than an exam, and the only humanities people you ever see freaking out in the library cuz of work are either writing theses or they're... pardon my term... dumb.

      • prof speaks  

        As a humanities professor, I have seen the hard data: A+ routine grades in most of the sciences/math depts and are almost never routine grades (they are awarded exceptionally) in the humanities and most social sciences. I have also seen the lists many years in a row for students who are in the top 25% (who might be awarded Latin Honors) and the vast majority are in hard sciences and have GPAs of over 4.0.
        So, if you are in the humanities and have numerous A+ grades, kudos! you are the anomaly.

        • but really...  

          How on earth is an A+ a routine grade in ANY class?

          It seems much more likely that a science student can consistently get A+s whereas the humanities kids suffer from subjectively graded essays/papers/whatever.

          Regardless, getting the 1-2 A+s in a 30-40 person physical science class is an accomplishment. And the people who I know that do that generally put A LOT more effort than one would put into an essay or two.

          I'm not trying to diminish what a humanities student does, BUT I don't like the attitude that science students have unfairly inflated grades - if someone scores a 100 when everyone else scores around 60 (which is usually the case!), they deserve the highest possible grade!

  19. Anonymous  

    Does anybody have any solid data about what grades are given out with what frequencies in which classes? I don't doubt the sincerity of the claims made, but I see many claims and very little data. I'd be interested in seeing, say, a distribution or two—

  20. ps

    after a little more thought, let me add that this doesn't apply to people who study things like ARABIC. that shit's hard.

  21. wirc  

    People are being bigger DBs than usual about this. I smell jealousy.

  22. masochist  

    ARCHITECTURE. ARCHITECTURE. ARCHITECTURE. At least physics teachers don't insult you.

  23. Science Major  

    x + vt + 1/2a(t^2) = the major ball-licking you nonscience majors can do

  24. Erwin S.  

    E(psi) = H(psi)
    Y'all can kiss my Hamiltonian operator.

  25. cu_alum

    the valedictorian in 2005 was comp lit.

    i think that in general, the grading distribution is such that more students in the humanities get A-range grades (at least my transcript tells me that) than in science. however, since humanities is not generally graded on a bell curve, not all profs give A+s, whereas in the sciences they do. so, in general, humanities students have higher gpas than science students, but if you look at the people at the tops of their classes in their departments, those in the sciences will have higher gpas.

    with that said, even a physics major needs to take the core, so claire had to be good at writing if she aced lithum, cc, arthum, musichum, etc (i'm guessing she got an A in all if she's #1 in the class)

  26. odd....

    looking at the rabi site of past fellows, you can see that both bryan laulicht & richard lipkin are listed as rabi scholars. back in the day, laulicht made columbia news for being caught trying to cheat on the gre exam by recording answers with a friend. (http://media.www.columbiaspectator.com/media/storage/paper865/news/2002/11/20/News/Seniors.Accused.Of.Using.HighTech.Devices.To.Cheat.On.Gre-2037968.shtml) and then lipkin was busted when he turned his dorm room into a grow house. (http://media.www.columbiaspectator.com/media/storage/paper865/news/2003/09/04/News/Cc.Senior.Arrested.For.Marijuana.Possession-2036429.shtml) great group of kids!

  27. yay  

    yay for claire!! she's a great person and totally deserves this.

  28. Gene Ray  

    This stupid STUDENT has been taught by evil educators dumb singularity dispossessing her of racionate MIND.
    Students must ask the truth and seek Cubic Creation but they are given a DOG BRAIN and learn only servitude to evil singularity.
    True COMPREHENSION for you dumb-ass students can only self-actualize when the dynamism of CUBIC creation is fully revealed.

  29. wow  

    seeing the vulgarity of the comments here definitely makes me thankful that my name has not appeared on the Bwog. i guess dealing with nasty comments is the price of fame.

  30. meanwhile  

    Nick Klagge has a facebook, worked on spec and academic awards committee, and is generally very popular and got Salutatorian.

  31. wait  

    rich lipkin was a rabi scholar?

  32. anon  

    wow! i don't know claire but nick is a great guy and i'm happy to see him get salutatorian.

  33. easy math  

    The sciences vs. humanities debate is completely unnecessary.
    Only one thing is important and that is obvious:
    Claire > you

  34. How  

    Do they pick salutorian? Just outta curiosity

    Congrats to both!

  35. shallowme  

    She is also very pretty.

  36. why  

    Why did most people here miss the point?
    The candidates for Valedictorian are the very very top students in the class.
    Now - it is likely that a very very top students in math or sciences earns more A+s than A's, and has a GPA over 4.0.
    It is very unlikely that even the best humanities major will earn more A+s than A's, for two reasons
    1) Grading is more subjective, and so raw intelligence can't put a person in the A+ category in every class
    2) Fewer A+'s are awarded. Some humanities profs never award A+.

    Thankfully, the CC Valedictorian is not determined by straight GPA.
    BUT if the Valedictorian in CC is a science major more often than a humanities major, that would indicate that the school has a hard time looking past the superior GPAs of the top science majors.

    After all, it's unlikely that Columbia's best student is more often a science major than a humanities major. The number of science majors is so small and the number of humanities majors is so large!

  37. I like how  

    humanities majors always complain that their work is graded subjectively. What the hell do you expect, a grade based on the number of words and accuracy of punctuation? If you can't accept subjective criticism, go major in a science, where you are graded on what you know (or what the professor thinks you should know..or be able to do...). Otherwise, go back to spending half the week drunk and shut the hell up.

  38. hahaha  

    who cares about art history anyway, far less relevant in any sense besides to the academic. Also, if it has been the case that columbia's best students are science majors, it would show that the most intelligent select into those majors.

  39. congrats

    to claire. and deservedly so.

    but theres definitely a reason why hard science/math majors keep finishing on top.

    those classes are curved. someone WILL get an A+. not so in humanities classes. I've had many professors tell me they don't give A+'s as policy. figures that this would be in the classes I kicked ass in and would've gotten an A+ in if they existed. alas.

  40. curving matters  

    cu alum is right

    orgo 1 - 24% As
    french 2 - 72% As

    even though an A+ is possible, you have to be better than more than 3/4 ths of your class to even be close to that grade in the sciences. whereas you have to pretty much not fuck up in the humanities to get As. so even though the sciences do technically give out more of those A+ grades, their students have to fight it out pretty hard to get a decent gpa in the first place.

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