Director's Weekly Reports

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 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 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...

Lamont Weekly Report, May 1, 2009

Despite the glorious weather last Sunday afternoon, Brendan Buckley's talk at the Spring Public Lecture series, the last for this season, attracted a good audience - this was the first event of many during the week. Brendan told a wonderful story about how he is linking the history of past droughts in SE Asia (reconstructed from tree rings) to the disappearance of ancient civilizations in the region.  Every year attendance at this lecture series increases - a couple of years ago we
had to start charging an entry fee to control the numbers somewhat - but still the pressure grows -  Lamont owes a great debt of thanks to all this year's speakers - thank you Michael Studinger, Dorothy Peteet, Nick Christie-Blick and Byrdie Renik (and of course Brendan).

On Monday evening there was a recognition of Provost's Alan Brinkley's many contributions to the University - he will be stepping down at the end of June - a very plush, and well-attended reception in the Rotunda of the Low Library. Notably one of the Alan's accomplishments that President Bollinger recognized in his speech was that of creating the
Research Professorships at Lamont.  We all certainly owe Alan a great deal of thanks for that...

Lamont Weekly Report, April 24, 2009

Last Sunday we held a meeting of the Alumni Association Board prior to a very well-attended lunch for members of FOLD (Friends of Lamont-Doherty) - almost forty folks attended - and its success was only eclipsed by the excellent public lecture (the third in this years series) that followed the lunch. Nick Christie-Blick and Byrdie Renik talked about Continental Stretching to a near capacity crowd in Monell.

Wednesday afternoon was spent with our Advisory Board. They were treated to a tour of the "Seismology Museum" in the basement of the cafeteria, thanks to Art Lerner-Lam and Won Young Kim, before engaging in one of the best attended and most active meetings we have had. The central agenda item was that of improving Lamont's visibility, and Kevin Krajick and Kim Martineau gave a great overview of the impressively large amount of diverse press coverage that we have been receiving in recent months.  Robin Bell was the featured science speaker and told the great story of the recent expedition to Antarctica that she led with colleague Michael Studinger.

Lamont Weekly Report, April 17, 2009

We had the annual budget meeting with the Provost on Tuesday - this is the annual event at which Edie and I try to convince the Provost Alan Brinkley and the CU Chief Financial Officer that we can afford to run the campus for the next fiscal year. This is done with Steve Cohen and the Earth Institute of course (as our budget is tightly integrated with that of the EI).  It was tough this year - we have significant reductions in our endowment income and major growth in costs over
which we have no control. Our financial situation next year is tighter than it has ever been since I have been Director.  Of course we are all hopeful that when the stimulus dollars begin flowing from NSF, that the institution will get some relief because of the increase in indirect cost recovery, but I fear we will not see that until well into 2010. (And rumors aside, I still have no reliable idea of when stimulus funds will reach the program level within NSF - some have said that program managers will hear today - but I really do not know.) Anyway - enough with the negativity...

Lamont Weekly Report, April 10, 2009

I got back from DC late Friday night after a classic five hour long weather-related debacle with the Delta shuttle. The leadership of the US Implementing Organizations for the Ocean Drilling Program came into town on Sunday afternoon for a dinner that night and a day-long meeting on Monday. Most of the discussions were focused upon the many leadership changes that are occurring in practically every area of the program - except Lamonts - thank goodness.  Texas A&M is recruiting a new Geosciences Dean (to whom ODP-TAMU reports) as well as a new Director of the program to follow-on after Jeff Fox. And Kyoshi Suyehiro of JAMSTEC is taking over from Manik Talwani as President of the international management office for IODP. While all this is going on JOIDES Resolution is drilling successfully in the Pacific, with a
major celebration planned in early May during the Honolulu port call - Arden Bement, Director NSF will be the keynote speaker.

There was a Council of Deans meeting on Tuesday - probably there will be only one more during Alan Brinkley's tenure as Provost. No convincing rumors are circulating re the identity of Alan's replacement - obviously a critical appointment for both Lamont and the Earth Institute.

Lamont Weekly Report, April 3, 2009

This phenomena - of agreeing to some substantial commitment, because the date was sufficiently far into the future that you never thought it would actually happen -  came home to roost for me this week. The week was essentially consumed in preparation for and the running of a major NSF Panel review of the Management practices of the IRIS corporation.  IRIS  runs the global seismic network among other things.  When I agreed to do this last year I did not at all appreciate the magnitude of the commitment. So I have had three full days in DC - Tuesday night through Friday night chairing this panel - a job made easier by the exceptional quality of my fellow panelists.