Breakthrough Prize, Millennium Fellows, a Legion of Honor, and More

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Columbia News produces a monthly newsletter (subscribe here!) and article series featuring a roundup of awards and milestones that Columbia faculty, staff, and students have received in recent days. In this edition, you’ll find awards and milestones from August 24 to September 20, 2023. 

If you have an accomplishment you’d like to be considered for inclusion, please email [email protected] with your name, title, school, department, and a link to the relevant award or milestone. 

You can take a look at past accomplishments on our Awards & Milestones page. And you can subscribe to receive the newsletter in your inbox. 


Simon Brendle, professor of mathematics, has been awarded the Breakthrough Prize. The annual prize was founded in 2012 by sponsors Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki, and touts itself as the world’s largest international science prize. Brendle was recognized for “a series of remarkable leaps in differential geometry, a field that uses the tools of calculus to study curves, surfaces, and spaces. Many of his results concern the shape of surfaces, as well as manifolds in higher dimensions than those we experience in everyday life.” Oliver Philcox, a junior fellow in the Simons Society of Fellows, hosted at Columbia, was also recognized with Breakthrough’s New Horizons in Physics Prize for early-career researchers.


Isabel Huacuja Alonso, assistant professor in the department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies, was a co-awardee of the 2023 American Institute of Pakistan Studies Book Award for her book, Radio for the Millions: Hindi-Urdu Broadcasting Across Borders.

Patricia Dailey, associate professor of English and comparative literature, has received the 2023 Lauds and Laurels Award, as a distinguished alumna of the University of California, Irvine.

Kathy Eden, Chavkin Family Professor of English Literature and professor of classics, has been elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.

Aleksandar Boskovic, lecturer in Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian, department of Slavic languages; Holger Klein, Lisa and Bernard Selz Professor of Medieval Art History, department of art history and archaeology; and Christian Parker, professor and theatre concentration head for dramaturgy, School of the Arts, have been selected to be 2023-24 Michael I. Sovern/Columbia University Affiliated Fellows at the American Academy in Rome.

Eric Bunge and Mimi Hoang, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation adjunct faculty members and directors of nARCHITECTS, have received the 2023 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture.


The American Geophysical Union (AGU), the world’s largest earth and space sciences association, has awarded honors to four Columbia Climate School researchers. Michela Biasutti, who studies variations in rainfall and their relation to climate, was awarded the Jule Gregory Charney Lecture; the invitation to give the Charney Lecture is given each year “to a prominent scientist who has made exceptional contributions to the understanding of weather and climate.” Melissa Lott, senior director of research at the Center on Global Energy Policy, received the 2023 Pavel S. Molchanov Climate Communications Prize, given annually “in recognition for the communication of climate science to promote scientific literacy, clarity of message, and efforts to foster respect and understanding of science-based values.” Adam Sobel, professor of applied physics and applied mathematics and of earth and environmental sciences, and Suzana Camargo, Marie Tharp Lamont Research Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, were declared fellows of the AGU, an honor given to members “who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space science through a breakthrough, discovery, or innovation in their field.”

Linda P. Fried, dean of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, was awarded the Insignia of the Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. The Legion of Honor, France’s highest order of merit, recognizes the dean’s positive impact on France and on a global level, both through her scientific advances on aging and as a public health leader who forged consequential scientific and educational connections between the U.S. and France.

Mary O’Neil Mundinger, Edward M. Kennedy Professor of Health Policy and dean emerita of the Faculty of Nursing, has been recognized as a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing.

Denis-Didier Rousseau, adjunct senior research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, received the Liu Tungsheng Distinguished Career Medal, which recognizes outstanding service to the international community in quaternary science.

Richard Seager, Palisades Geophysical Institute/Lamont Research Professor, Ocean and Climate Physics at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, has been awarded the Jule G. Charney Medal by the American Meteorological Society. He was recognized “for significant and innovative contributions in the attribution of past droughts and floods, and to understanding the impact of rising greenhouse gasses on future hydroclimate.”


Elizabeth Paul, assistant professor of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia Engineering, was chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy as an early career scientist for its 2023 Early Career Research Program.


A cohort of 12 Millennium Fellows has been selected at Columbia University this year. Presented by the United Nations Academic Impact and MCN, the Millennium Fellowship is a semester-long leadership development program to support student leadership for UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Alyssa James, anthropology PhD candidate, has received the American Anthropological Association’s 2023 Setha M. Low Engaged Anthropology Award.

Matthew Joseph, PhD candidate in the History Department, has won the Urban History Association’s Michael Katz Award for Best Dissertation in Urban History. 

Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins, a book by Aidan Levy, doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, is one of the winners of the 2023 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, as well as two Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards: the Robert Palmer-Helen Oakley Dance Award for Excellence in Writing, and Biography/Autobiography of the Year. 

Nathalia Tavares (CC’23) has been selected for the 2023–2024 Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Fellowships for Young Professionals. The fellowship provides 75 American and 75 German young leaders the opportunity to spend a year in each other’s countries studying, interning, and living with host families.

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