Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, September 25, 2009

There was a great talk this afternoon - this years 'Science of Diversity' talk at the regular colloquium - Meg Urry, the Chair of the Physics department at Yale did a superb job of reviewing the issues that cause there to be so few women in research science. This was a welcome intellectual break from a marathon ExCom this  morning and a DEES Faculty meeting (attended by Arts and Sciences VP Nick Dirks) this afternoon...

Lamont Weekly Report, September 18, 2009

Last Saturday was the Annual Meeting of the New York Marine Sciences Consortium - Wade McGillis attended as our representative on the Board of Governors.  This is a relatively new organization that was established to increase the visibility of the importance of marine science research at the NY state level.  It is unfortunate that its formation coincided with the financial crisis so growth has been slower than we had hoped.  But it is in its early days.

Lamont/Columbia is one of the founding members and we sit on the Executive committee, so I am hoping that we can play a meaningful role going forward.  If you would like to play a larger role, chick out the web site - www.nymarinesciences.org - and in particular add your profile by clicking on the 'Directory' button on the Home page and downloading their form.

Lamont Weekly Report, September 11, 2009

Our Marine Operations group is undergoing a routine "Business Systems Review" by NSF - a process that will take 6-9 months to complete, but that was begun this week with three days of meetings with NSF representatives. This is one more example of the ever-increasing oversight on management and expenditure of federal dollars that is being imposed from DC. We have to show that we have all the checks and balances in place to insure that we are doing a thorough and careful job of spending the tax-payers money according to federally-mandated policies.  The final report should be completed in the late spring...

Lamont Weekly Report, September 4, 2009

This week was not as quiet and uneventful as I expected it to be - lots of activities ramping up for the new academic year - not least of which is the arrival of a new cohort of students - a total of 54, I think - 15 PhD students, 38 Climate and Society and one Earth and Environmental Science Journalism. I met with them briefly on Wednesday - they filled every seat in the Comer Seminar room.  Meeting with them was a great way to start the new year.

A couple of 'Save-the-dates' that are particularly worthy of mention...

Lamont Weekly Report, August 28, 2009

I spent a few idyllic days up north in the Adirondacks at the beginning of the week - discovering the profound limitations of Verizon's published coverage charts and the remarkably tiny spatial scales upon which cell phone signal strengths vary dramatically - tens of meters in places!

But more importantly - our final proposal to the federal agency's stimulus-funded infrastructure programs was submitted just before the deadline on Monday.  Of the three we have submitted over the last couple of months this was the largest - asking for an $8M renovation of the second floor of the New Core Lab...

Lamont Weekly Report, August 21, 2009

We entertained Angel White from Oregon State on Tuesday and pretty much finalized our discussions about her plans to join our Biological Oceanography group as a Doherty Associate Scientist early next calendar year. We are very much looking forward to having her on board.

A lot of activity with the Marine Office this week as we complete the complex procedures associated with getting the clearances for Doug Toomey, Emilie Hooft and Will Wilcock's cruise to the Endeavor segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, -scheduled to sail from Astoria today. Unfortunately you will probably read about it in Nature (the complexities, that is)...

Lamont Weekly Report, August 14, 2009

It has been a remarkably hectic week not only a flood of proposals headed for the NSF August 15th target date, but also a string of visitors, from CU Research Admin on Morningside, and a new prospective LDEO Advisory board member.

Langseth nears the end of a very long slow passage from Taiwan to Astoria Oregon ...

Lamont Weekly Report, August 7, 2009

The first week after returning from vacation is always tough - especially when the weather is as great as it is today - a marked change from last week!

Finalizing the decision not to hold Open House this fall was one of the more discouraging moments of this first week back - but given the tough spot we are in financially, and given that the cost of Open House equates approximately to that of one year of post doc support, I fear there was no alternative.  The article about this in the Journal News on Friday misquoted me with regards to my hopes of when we could hold the next one. The article said 2011 - I really hope we do not have to miss two years - I hope we can do it again next year in 2010...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 24, 2009

The central subject of this week's report will be the essential synergy between cell phones and hair dryers.  I do not generally use a hair dryer, but I always use a cell phone - most often in fact to access the Internet through Verizon's excellent broadband network...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 17, 2009

The pressure resulting from the Federal Stimulus package proposal opportunities means that there is little sensation that summer has arrived, despite the gorgeous weather (which undoubtedly will come to an abrupt end as I am going sailing for a couple of weeks starting Saturday!). Thanks to the heroics of many - but especially Bonnie Bonkowski, Steve Chillrud and Pat O'Reilly we got an $8M proposal submitted to NIH for a new Exposure Assessment and Environmental Biogeochemistry facility - one of only three submissions from CU allowed by the rules of the competition.  This is an excellent proposal - put together from scratch in less than six weeks...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 10, 2009

We received excellent news at the beginning of the week - our letter of intent to an NIST Announcement of Opportunity to help complete the fund raising for the Comer Building was accepted and we were invited to submit a proposal.  As with all the Stimulus Funding opportunities it has a very short fuse - an August 10th deadline - but once we get the NIH proposal for over $8M for a new Exposure Assessment and Environmental Biogeochemistry Laboratory Building out the door on Monday, then this will be our next target.  The NIST program is on behalf of all the agencies within the Department of Commerce (DoC), so we will be playing the NOAA climate science card (because NOAA is part of DoC), and this should give us a strong case...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 2, 2009

Geoff Abers and Goran Ekstrom co-chaired a significant workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday - planning an exciting (ARRA funded) combined onshore and offshore seismic experiment around Cascadia in the north west US.  Not only was the attendance a veritable who's who in US seismology (along with three program managers and one section head from NSF) but also, most importantly, it represented real progress in attaining the long held goal - one that I certainly failed to achieve during my time at NSF - to get NSF Earth Sciences Division and the NSF Ocean Sciences Division working together cooperatively to tackle the many significant and relevant problems that cross the shore line...

Lamont Weekly Report, June 26, 2009

No travel this week, which was a pleasant change.  But a wonderful evening event on Monday at the Frick Mansion in Alpine NJ participating in a fund raising event for the local Alpine school and getting to meet many of the residents of this intriguing, tiny, exceptionally wealthy town. We made a number of good new contacts that hopefully will become friends to LDEO in the future.

We entertained Kyoshi Suyehiro on Wednesday, who stopped by for a few hours on his way from the IODP jackup rig off New Jersey (that is drilling the hole that Greg Mountain has been trying to get drilled for a century or two) to his IODP-MI Office in DC where he is now President...

Lamont Weekly Report, June 19, 2009

The happiest news of the week is that the April issue of "Deep Sea Research" has been dedicated to Taro Takahashi. Taro, in his typically modest way, insists that "Since my ocean study was (and is) conducted entirely at Lamont with Lamont colleagues, I would like to share this honor and recognition with the entire Observatory."

There is a wonderful citation in the journal that states in part:

"Taro is an outstanding scientist, colleague, and mentor, with a graciousness and humility that has been an inspiration to us all throughout his entire career"

Congratulations Taro for this thoroughly appropriate and well-deserved recognition.

We received the great news on Monday that we have been given the one slot available to CU for submission of a proposal to NSF's Buildings and Infrastructure RFP issued as part of the Stimulus funding program (formally known as the American Reinvestment and recovery Act (ARRA)...

Lamont Weekly Report, June 12, 2009

As you all are probably aware, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding (ARRA, aka stimulus funding) comes with significant reporting requirements.  We are starting to see Stimulus awards come in and we do expect that many more PIs will be receiving such funds in the coming months.  Therefore, we have invited Paul Reedy, who is
leading Columbia's ARRA implementation team, to come to Lamont to talk about PI responsibilities with respect to Stimulus Funding.   The government reporting requirements for ARRA are significant so this will be a very important meeting for everyone.  Please join us:  Tuesday June 16th  10am  Lamont Hall...

Lamont Weekly Report, June 5, 2009

Today we had a successful visit by Chet Koblinsky the head of NOAA's Climate Program office along with a couple of his colleagues. He received briefings on the Columbia Climate Center and there were specific and useful discussions, led by Yochanan Kushnir about the future of our NOAA cooperative institute (CICAR). Relative to the other climate science agencies, the President's request for NOAA's budget for FY10 does not look great, but as a small sign of hope yesterday the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee marked them up by ~$130M which was at least something.  But there is still a long way to go in the budget process.

Kuheli Dutt ran the first Lamont Leadership Forum on Wednesday at which Suzanne Camargo and Tim Crone reported upon their recent attendance at leadership workshops organized by AGU and Ocean Leadership respectively.  There was good discussion and this is clearly an activity which we should repeat so that new insights and ideas to help our junior staff can be shared...

Lamont Weekly Report, May 29, 2009

A week today - Friday June 5th, the Director of NOAA's Climate Program Office, Chet Koblinsky, will give a talk in the Comer 1st floor seminar room at 2:15pm.  There is a lot going on at NOAA right now and we hope to gain some insights from Chet about what the future might hold.

I flew down to DC first thing on Tuesday morning (with Hilary Clinton, no less, on the US Air shuttle) and spent Tuesday and Wednesday working on the Advisory Committee to the  Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) for the NSF Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). COL is the prime contractor to NSF for the implementation of this ambitious infrastructure program which (depending on how you count) will be funded over the next decade at a level of more than $700M...

Lamont Weekly Report, May 22, 2009

Monday and Tuesday were consumed by the annual merit reviews of the whole of the scientific staff - an important but tiring process where I, along with the Associate Directors, go through every activity report and discuss relative merits and accomplishments.

I attended a very grand dinner on Tuesday evening at the Bollinger residence to recognize the nine CU honorary degree recipients - our good friend and generous benefactor Jerry Lenfest was among the honorees. It was  enjoyable but I had to stay up way way past my regular bed time! (Wednesday was commencement in case you missed it!)

Lamont Weekly Report, May 15, 2009

Thank you to all who attended the ceremony this afternoon to honor this year's recipient of the Observatory's Excellence in Mentoring award. It was an activity designed to emphasize the importance of mentoring our junior colleagues - helping them succeed in the tough competitive environment in which we all live. Everyone who was nominated for this award deserves our recognition and thanks - so if you see Juerg Matter, Nick Christie-Blick, Doug Martinson, Alexey Kaplan in the next few days thank them for their important contributions to the quality of our work environment here at Lamont.  These folks along with all the previous recipients of this award - Gordon Jacoby, Bob Anderson, Marc Spiegelman, Kevin Griffith, Sid Hemming - all deserve our sincere thanks...

Lamont Weekly Report, May 8, 2009

The very first rumblings from NSF are being heard regarding implementation of their plans to disburse stimulus funding - we all wait with great expectations!

Little bits of information are trickling out about the all important President's request for FY2010 - more complete data will be available next week - but let me share a few numbers.

The FY10 request for NSF Geosciences is $909M versus the FY08 Actual of $758M - a healthy increase of 19.9 per cent. This is very good news.  NOAA did not fare so well - only a 1.5 per cent increase (relative to FY08 actual) for OAR and for NASA science a decrease of 4.9 per cent. But the real story on this, and its impact on Geosciences I am sure lies in the next level of budget detail which we will not see till next week. Remarkably, Science at DoE has an FY10 request of $5813M relative to an FY08 actual of $4080M - an increase of an amazing 42.5 per cent...