Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, April 27, 2012

Excom this morning: discussion of Columbia's new accounting and reporting system led by Anne Sullivan, Executive VP for Finance (lots of work, lots of staff training, will make things better, please be patient); final iterations on our By-Laws (for discussion in May and voting in June); discussion of our Post-Doc mentoring Plan and its effectiveness in preparing post-docs for career choices (Kuheli will draft some modifications for discussion); various compliance issues (more patience required, some input from Columbia needed). We missed the Enterprise flyover...

Lamont Weekly Report, April 20, 2012

News came this week that Dennis Kent has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Congratulations, Dennis!

Our last public lecture of the 2012 season will be given on Sunday (Earth Day) by Peter Kelemen. Peter's talk is appropriately titled, "Peak Earth: Population, Climate and Energy in the 21st Century." Let me take this opportunity to thank each of this year's speakers - Heather Savage, Pratigya Polissar, Greg Mountain, Donna Shillington, and Peter - for an engaging and well-targeted series of presentations. And special thanks to our Development/Events team - Barb Charbonnet, Erika Freimuth, Stacey Vassallo, and Ronnie Anderson - for making it happen...

Lamont Weekly Report, April 13, 2012

Columbia's Morningside Heights campus is one of the great urban spaces, and the first few weeks of spring illustrate the genius of McKim, Mead and White to full effect (if you forget about the 120th street canyon). The Lamont campus, as well, is glorious in the spring; the trees are about to pop, Buildings and Grounds is getting some new plants in the ground, our resident wildlife is doing what wildlife will do at this time of year, and our buildings... well, let's talk about space...

Lamont Weekly Report, April 6, 2012

The letter from President Bollinger and Provost Coatsworth announcing the appointment of Sean Solomon as Lamont's next Director signals a new era at the Observatory. We have been fortunate throughout our 63-year history to be led by a succession of outstanding and canonical directors. Under Mike Purdy's directorship, the Observatory achieved new heights of accomplishment and stability, from the successful acquisition of a new ship, to the construction of a world-class
geochemistry building, to the hiring of peerless scientists, to, finally, the establishment of the Lamont Research Professors. We are in the perfect position for new achievements with Sean as our colleague and our Director. The years to come will be exciting, challenging, and fun...

Lamont Weekly Report, March 30, 2012

Jim Gaherty, Bruce Shaw and Felix Waldhauser have each been promoted to Lamont Full Research Professor, effective March 1, 2012.  Donna Shillington and Jason Smerdon have been appointed to the Earth Institute faculty --- Congratulations to all.

Howie Matza has organized a webinar presentation Monday, April 2, at 1 PM in the Comer 1st floor seminar room on the subject of lab safety. The webinar is open to all, but is especially important to anyone working in a lab or responsible for the operation of a lab. I've previewed the webinar and recommend your participation. The safety of our staff and
students is paramount, and taking the time to review safety procedures is a fundamental responsibility for all concerned...

Lamont Weekly Report, March 23, 2012

Yes, I forgot to write a weekly report last Friday, so I'll have to cover a couple of weeks in this one.

We are well into our Spring Lecture series, starting with the tag-team performance of Heather Savage and Pratigya Polissar last Sunday, and continuing with Greg Mountain this coming weekend. We usually fill Monell Auditorium with an engaged audience - the questions are great - and this year is off to the same start. The Development Office (Barb,
Stacey and Erika) continues to do an impressive job organizing and publicizing the lectures, and Phil Fitzpatrick mans the A/V booth. The final two lectures will be on Tax Day, April 15 (Donna Shillington) and Earth Day, April 22 (Peter Kelemen). There's more information in the "Spotlight" section of our website...

Lamont Weekly Report, March 9, 2012

The week opened with a wonderful luncheon for Ken Hunkins, organized by Margie Turrin and Barb Charbonnet, with new friends, old friends and old new friends attending. We were able to present Ken with the original map - now mounted and preserved - showing the tracks of all of the drifting ice stations that revolutionized exploration of the Arctic, beginning with Ice Station Alpha during the International Geophysical Year.

Lamont Weekly Report, March 2, 2012

Just a brief report today: running out of time.

Steve Zebiak stepped down this week as Director General of the IRI, after a long and successful tenure at the helm. Steve led the IRI toward its current unique position as one of the most sophisticated sources of actionable, science-based advice to international development organizations, national institutions and agencies, and foreign governments. His contributions are immense, and both the EI and Lamont owe him a great deal. He will be staying on at the IRI and will continue to develop programs in climate services...

Lamont Weekly Report, February 24, 2012

 

We had an executive committee marathon this morning, trying to catch up on several topics.

 I’ve asked Mahdad Parsi, Naomi Naik and Benno Blumenthal to participate in several working groups underneath the “Shared Research Computing Policy Advisory Committee” being run out of Mike Purdy’s EVPR office. These working groups will focus on assessing existing computational resources, enumerating needs for computational power and storage, evaluating cloud architecture and other topics...

Lamont Weekly Report, February 17, 2012

Some personnel news:

Nichole Anest has been promoted to curator of Lamont's Core Repository. Under the leadership of Mo Raymo, we are planning to start a major renovation to build and support next-generation analytical facilities. As everyone knows, the cores are a never-ending source of new observations and new science, and Nichole's curation will be a crucial bridge to future utilization of the repository. Nichole takes over from Rusty Lotti, who retired last year, and who was instrumental
in giving us a great base for future growth...

Lamont Weekly Report, February 10, 2012

A nice surprise this morning: NOAA has announced that:

"Marcus G. Langseth has been selected for a 2011 Voluntary Weather Observing Ship (VOS) Award and Plaque with an outstanding total of 3,749 valuable manual and automated marine observations!   In addition, your ship staff also helped automate observation programs on Roger Revelle and Melville. You will receive your special award later this year.  Once
you have the award, we hope to acquire a digital photo for the Mariner's Weather Log to honor your achievement."...

Lamont Weekly Report, February 3, 2012

We got into serious campus budget talks this week. On Monday the associate directors, the division DAs, and senior admin folks gathered in one room to scope out the remainder of this fiscal year and talk about next year's hiring and space plans. We discussed opportunities and constraints as a group, which will give us a more balanced way of

managing new investments next year. For example, as part of the budget workup, we will be phasing in an approach to commodity computer purchases and training and support opportunities for senior technical staff. As I mentioned last week, the Executive Committee and OMG will be heavily involved in these discussions...

 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 27, 2012

One of our collective strategies going forward is to broaden our base of funding from traditional sources by developing relationships with other agencies and institutions. Working in our favor is the growing realization in some of these agencies that university-based fundamental research is necessary in its own right and has much to contribute to

their missions and agendas. For example, USAID - an agency with which we have had some past interactions - is in the process of developing an external grants program for universities, meant to support basic research in support of development objectives....

 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 20, 2012

News flash! Tony Del Genio and Peter deMenocal have been named AGU Fellows for 2012! (Also named: Lamont graduates Ana Ravelo and Paul Wessel.)
 
MB-System aficionados held a two-day workshop in the Worzel Room this week, hosted by Dale Chayes and Dave Caress (ex-Lamont, now MBARI). In case you don’t know, MB-System is the open source software originally developed at Lamont for processing and displaying a host of underway marine imaging data; over the years it has been supported by NSF, NOAA, the Packard Foundation (through MBARI) and others. A new NSF proposal is in preparation...

 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 13, 2012

This being the first full week after the holiday break, most of my time was spent in meetings and catching up. Much of the next few weeks will be spent working with Edie and the associate directors preparing the Observatory budget for our next fiscal year. At the same time, we are paying close attention to the federal government's plans for future science agency budgets. Some Lamont and IRI scientists will be visiting Capitol Hill at the end of the month to participate in "Climate
Science Day," organized by the AAAS, AGU, AMS (and other professional organizations), to make the case for the importance of university-based basic research. It's a message that cannot be repeated too frequently...

Lamont Weekly Report, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year and welcome back.

As you know, we had another water main break just before New Year's holiday. Dick Greco and his crew worked overtime to get it repaired before the long weekend, with just some roadwork to complete as soon as temperatures allow. Thanks to everyone for accommodating the work and the road closures...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 23, 2011

The year-end New Yorker has short fiction by Margaret Atwood in which (spoiler alert) a geologist supplies a MacGuffin and a stromatolite is the weapon of choice for an act of revenge. Leave it to Atwood to imbue the pleasures of field geology with menace. And during the holidays no less...
 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 16, 2011

It was great to see so many friends and family at the Lamont holiday reception Wednesday afternoon. Many thanks to Miriam Cinquegrana and Bev Wuerfel for organizing the festivities. I promise we'll order more crackers next time.

I kept various meetings and appointments regarding Lamont space and communications, agency relationships, and a few other matters. We're in serious planning mode for space in several of our buildings, including planning for labs in support of several of our biogeoscience recruiting opportunities. We'll convene a group to discuss the programming for biogeo labs after the first of the new year...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 9, 2011

AGU week was the usual flurry of sessions, town halls and committee meetings, with a few social gatherings thrown in. Of course, the best of these, from my unbiased perspective, was the Lamont reception on Tuesday evening. The crowd was large, loud, and loquacious. Mia Leo and her husband, Dick, were there, receiving toasts and congratulations, washed
down with warm memories. Many thanks go to Stacey Vassallo and Erika Freimuth for keeping this great tradition in top form...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 2, 2011

A pre-AGU week of almost daily highlights:

Monday: Mia Leo's retirement celebration was a wonderful testament to all she has done for our students, not to mention all she has done for DEES and Lamont. Among the standouts: the ecclesiastically subtle hymn to her; the doo-wop performance by the Chairs, complete with funky variable time signature; the Folksmen-style hootenanny, enhanced by a
QMDA-flavored percussion section; and, of course, "Mamma Mia," which improved on the original lyrics of possibly the most overrated bubblegum pop band on the planet...