Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, January 29, 2010

The temperature right now here in Moscow is minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit. It is predicted to rise to 3 degrees in the middle of the day, so folks are generally pleased that the 'cold snap' is coming to an end!!  I am here for a three day meeting of the heads of the major ocean institutions around the world, an annual event that rotates around the big ocean centers. (The host here is the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology.)  It is a rare opportunity to talk with ocean leadership from everywhere from Australia to South Africa, including Spain, Germany, France, UK, Korea, China, Japan etc. etc...

Lamont Weekly Report, January 15, 2010

The Haitian earthquake was a perfectly normal and natural (and not unexpected) event, but the magnitude of the human suffering that it has caused brings sadness to us all. A sadness that is offset just a little by the joyous news that CIESIN's Marc Levy and Andy Fischer, who were working with the UN in Port au Prince, came safely home yesterday...

Lamont Weekly Report, January 8, 2010

Since I have been Director, I have not started a New Year with such prospects for activity and change in so many different areas of the institution. Although essentially all of this is good, change inevitably brings a lot of work and many tough decisions. This time next year many things will be different. My relatively robust predictions for the New Year include:

    - The beginning of major work on the complete renovation of the top
      floor of the New Core Lab to give the BPE Division the quality
      laboratory facilities they have needed desperately for years ...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 25, 2009

I was one of the lucky ones that made it back from San Francisco on schedule - many folks did not, because of the snow.  Every time it snows in winter the national air traffic control system seems to be surprised. I think this may provide some insight into the (much more profound) problem we seem to have in convincing folks that climate change is real...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 18, 2009

t has been a crazy week in San Francisco - so many sessions and meetings get scheduled on top of one another - so it is inevitable that I miss about as many important events as I am able to attend.  But I did manage to make it to a few science sessions - oral and postal - and needless to say, saw many Lamonters.

The Alumni Association reception on Tuesday evening followed a good meeting of the Board, and was well attended despite the financial cost associated with consumption of alcohol. As always there were lots of old and new friends from all over the world there...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 11, 2009

The British-based Tipping Point Group, hosted by the Columbia Climate Center, ran an unusual but very interesting event here last Sunday and Monday. It was invitation only I'm afraid which is why it was not widely publicized, but it was targeted at bringing the art world and the climate science world together - trying to catalyze interactions that would stimulate the creation of new art targeted at communicating climate science in new and unique ways. I attended only a few hours myself - but it was a very well organized activity and included a very posh reception at the British Consul General's penthouse residence downtown on Monday night...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 4, 2009

I spent Wednesday and Thursday in College Station, Texas meeting with NSF leadership about the future of the ocean drilling program (ODP) - it was colder in Houston and College Station than it was in New York - much to my surprise.  Believe it or not ODP is up for renewal again in 2013 so already it is time to start thinking about plans and strategies.
We had dinner at the Dean's house (Kate Miller) on Wednesday night and who should turn up but Andy Fisher and Keir Becker - had not seen either of them for a couple of years - good to catch up. I want to invite Andy to Lamont to give the great talk he gave at the INVEST meeting in Bremen earlier this year...

Lamont Weekly Report, November 27, 2009

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving, and is not regretting too much the excessive calorie consumption that is a typical characteristic of this uniquely American celebration. My desire to maintain contact with my long-lost Northern England heritage resulted in me persuading the 'powers-that-be' in my household to make Yorkshire Puddings for me this year.  And I never regret eating too much Yorkshire Pudding............

Lamont Weekly Report, November 20, 2009

Barb Charbonnet and I had a very pleasant lunch with the leadership of the Vetlesen Foundation on Wednesday - providing our annual report of progress and accomplishments, which was received positively (thank goodness!). However, their views (from their "Wall Street" perspective) on the financial future at a national level were depressingly negative - I hope in this case their pessimism is unfounded...

Lamont Weekly Report, November 13, 2009

I am very pleased to report that, following a formal mail ballot by the Senior Staff, Lorenzo Polvani of SEAS/APAM and A&S/DEES will be joining LDEO formally effective 1st December, as a member of our Senior Staff. We all hope that Lorenzo's close involvement in our atmospheric research efforts will continue to grow - especially as our emphasis in this area increases with the forthcoming new appointments to the DEES faculty. Welcome, Lorenzo...

Lamont Weekly Report, November 6, 2009

We received a second piece of good news this week - from NIST to whom we submitted a $1.5M proposal for Federal Stimulus funds to complete the ultra clean lab in Comer - we have reached the second round of the review process in this competition too. So there will be a lot of crossed fingers around here over the next few weeks...

Lamont Weekly Report, October 30, 2009

We ran a Development event on Monday afternoon for a small group of folks from the affluent village of Alpine NJ - thanks to Robin Bell and Margie Turrin for sharing their enthusiasm about Antarctica and all things cold and icy in such an interesting and engaging way... 

Lamont Weekly Report, October 23, 2009

We made another step towards the final implementation of the Research Professor positions at an important meeting with representatives of the CU Controller and Research Compliance offices on Monday. Our plans for the transition years, during which folks move from 12 month positions to 9 month positions, are complex from an effort reporting perspective - but the startegy that we had worked out with ExCom was found to be without flaws.  So one more hurdle has been crossed.

Columbia University, at the highest levels, is engaged in a 're-branding' initiative and is requiring that all Schools move away from their own logos and identity, and adopt a uniform 'look' in which Columbia University itself is clear and prominent. The new CU-approved Lamont identity can be found at, and downloaded from:  http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/campus-services/ldeo-logo So, from now on, this is what you should be using on your powerpoints or whatever....

Lamont Weekly Report, October 16, 2009

A brief welcoming presentation to a group of representatives from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (hosted by Bob Chen), followed by an EI Climate Center Steering Committee meeting and a meeting of the Executive Committee of the EI Faculty pretty much consumed Monday. And first thing Tuesday I was off to DC for four days of Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and Ocean Leadership meetings. The report on these discussions will constitute the bulk of the report
this week, so if you are not interested in either, skip to the end! (Because the last paragraph is REALLY important).

The point to emphasize about OOI - is that it is happening! And it is happening on a scale that we in the ocean sciences business have never seen before. The cooperative agreement between NSF and Ocean Leadership for this program is over $750M (yes, three quarters of a billion dollars) over several years...

Lamont Weekly Report, October 9, 2009

eff Sachs spent the day on the Lamont Campus on Monday, meeting for two hours with the LDEO ExCom in the morning and then visiting with the leadership of IRI, CIESIN and Tropical Agriculture through the afternoon. This presented a much-welcomed opportunity to engage Jeff in our research goals and resulted in some excellent discussions.

It was great to see Lamont alumnus John Hall on Tuesday and hear his intriguing stories of the development of a hovercraft for research in the ice covered Arctic Ocean. This was an all-too-rare-example of very high-risk innovation in approaches to data collection - a characteristic of our research world that has almost disappeared to zero (but thankfully not quite) since the demise of ONR funding for blue water ocean science...

Lamont Weekly Report, October 2, 2009

I flew into Houston last Sunday night in order to enjoy the two hour drive across the Texas outback to the metropolis of College Station, where I spent Monday in discussions with Texas A&M leadership about the future of the Ocean Drilling Program. It is rare on a one-day visit to any university to be privileged to have separate meetings with the President, the Provost, the VP for Research and the Dean of Geosciences, but that is what happened last Monday. A&M's commitment to the future of ocean drilling cannot be questioned...

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...