Columbia University Science Honors Program

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) is a highly selective program for students who have a strong interest in science and mathematics. Classes are held at Columbia from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM on Saturdays throughout the academic year. Applicants for the 2016-2017 school year must now be in the eleventh, tenth, or ninth grade and must apply online. The program is available only to students who attend high schools in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut and who live within a 75-mile radius of the Columbia campus.

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Chess, another Columbia Science Honors Program alum, describes the protests as "background noise." "We were all political," he says, "but the SHP was imporant. We would never have skipped it for a demonstration."

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Hanging out with the advanced kids on Saturday nevertheless encouraged Stallman to think more about the merits of increased socialization. With college fast approaching, Stallman, like many in his Columbia Science Honors Program, had narrowed his list of desired schools down to two choices: Harvard and MIT. Hearing of her son's desire to move on to the Ivy League, Lippman became concerned. As a 15-year-old high-school junior, Stallman was still having run-ins with teachers and administrators. Only the year before, he had pulled straight A's in American History, Chemistry, French, and Algebra, but a glaring F in English reflected the ongoing boycott of writing assignments. Such miscues might draw a knowing chuckle at MIT, but at Harvard, they were a red flag.

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP)

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) is a highly selective program for students who have a strong interest in science and mathematics. Classes are held at Columbia from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM on Saturdays throughout the academic year. ($30 fee for application processing. No tuition, no stipend.)Although it meant courting more run-ins at school, Lippman decided to indulge her son's passion. By age 12, Richard was attending science camps during the summer and private school during the school year. When a teacher recommended her son enroll in the Columbia Science Honors Program, a post-Sputnik program designed for gifted middle- and high-school students in New York City, Stallman added to his extracurriculars and was soon commuting uptown to the Columbia University campus on Saturdays.Eric is an aspiring scientist and current senior at East Brunswick High School with credentials in biology competitions statewide and nationally. He is a USABO semifinalist and has received state placement in the New Jersey Science League and MERCK tests throughout his high school career. A student at the Columbia Science Honors Program and researcher at Rutgers University during the summer-times, Eric is an avid volleyball player and participates in his school's Model United Nations Program, serving on advanced committees throughout national conferences. He plays on his school's jazz band, participating in State Finals as lead trombone in 2013.Seth Breidbart, a fellow Columbia Science Honors Program alumnus, offers bolstering testimony. A computer programmer who has kept in touch with Stallman thanks to a shared passion for science fiction and science-fiction conventions, he recalls the 15-year-old, buzz-cut-wearing Stallman as "scary," especially to a fellow 15-year-old.
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In 2004, he started working with Nobel laureate Dr. James E. Rothman in a variety of projects that ranged from membrane trafficking to diabetes research. He then joined the Jenifer Estess Laboratory for Stem Cell Research at Columbia University in 2009, under the supervision of Drs. Christopher Henderson and Hynek Wichterle, where his research was aimed towards differentiating motor neurons from induced pluripotent stem cells, designing and production of lentiviruses and baculoviruses, designing of DNA constructs for constitutive or cell type-dependent expression, etc. Alejandro also served as a Columbia Science Honors Program teacher of Experiments in Genetics and Molecular Biology for 7 semesters.

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Dan Chess, a fellow classmate in the Columbia Science Honors Program, recalls Richard Stallman seeming a bit weird even among the students who shared a similar lust for math and science. "We were all geeks and nerds, but he was unusually poorly adjusted," recalls Chess, now a mathematics professor at Hunter College. "He was also smart as shit. I've known a lot of smart people, but I think he was the smartest person I've ever known."

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The Columbia Science Honors Program (SHP) offers a unique opportunity provided by Columbia University for high school students interested in science and mathematics a chance to go into a higher level of education in this year-round course. The classes are two and half hours long every Saturday throughout the school year from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm. There are a wide variety of courses available from Organic Chemistry to Computer Programming in Java to Astronomy and Astrophysics, even Number Theory and Exploring Black Holes. The program itself is free of charge, which sets the admissions standards incredibly high.