Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, September 23, 2011

The equinox has passed, fall has fallen, and Open House 2011 (October 1) is around the corner. The tents will go up next week. Buildings and Grounds, Security, the Development Office, the External Relations Team, and, to be sure, most of the science staff and students, are all busy with preparations. Some of our alumni will be returning to campus and, as usual, there will be a few VIPs floating around. Most importantly, Marc Speigelman will be doing his Sid Viscous act on a tub of
cornstarch...

Lamont Weekly Report, September 16, 2011

This week was spent on the  director search matters, preparing for next week's Langseth review at NSF, celebrating Adrienne Block's successful defense, and honoring Rusty Lotti for her years of service to the Core Repository and Lamont...

 

 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 9, 2011

The Scholarly Communications Program of Columbia Libraries/Information Services has been organizing a seminar series entitled “Research without Borders.” Kerstin Lehnert , Director of the Integrated Earth Data Applications facility at Lamont and an authority on geoinformatics, will be speaking at an upcoming program on Tuesday, September 27th, at noon in the Faculty House. From the event description:

 
Data Management and Federal Funding: What Researchers Need to Know...
 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 2 2011

I hope you've been able to dry out since last weekend. Irene cut quite a swath. The city seemed to survive; I live in a high-rise in "Zone B" on the West Side and was watching the storm surge lap up and over the aprons of some of the piers on Sunday morning. By that afternoon, the wind was coming in from the west. Things seemed calm, so I opened a west-facing casement window to get some air. Dumb move: my windows open inward and sure enough every loose thing in my living room got blown away. I had to put on sneakers in order to get enough grip on the floor to push the window closed. Still, I was lucky; I know some of you lost power or were flooded or were stranded somewhere. I'm just glad none of you were hurt.

Lamont Weekly Report, August 26 2011

On Tuesday, around 13:56, while I was sitting in Hogan Hall going over our upcoming NSF meeting about the Langseth, my daughter tweeted that she had just felt an earthquake. The Virginia earthquake occurred at around 13:51. It takes about a minute for the P-wave to reach the NYC metro area, and about another minute for a large waveset (a kind of surface wave) to hit, which is presumably what she felt. So now I know that my daughter's telecom latency is about 3 minutes. This is a very useful number.

Lamont Weekly Report, August 19 2011

A few Lamont proposals over the past several months have required some extra steps because they involved research on human subjects and required a signoff on research protocols. Legal protections of human subjects, in any country, are rigorous, and apply to a wide range of potential research. Columbia maintains an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which is charged with the review and approval of protocols. There is a web site (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/irb/index.html) with FAQs and other guidance. In addition, Bev is organizing an information session with representatives of the IRB, to be held soon after the start of the fall semester. Point of clarification: Lamont Research Professors do not need waivers to request IRB approval. Make sure your title is entered correctly when you make the application...

Lamont Weekly Report, August 12 2011

No, we're not installing Time Warner or Cablevision. Those cable reels you see being offloaded on the driveway to the warehouse/instrument lab are hydrophone streamers for the Langseth. Sean Higgins and his crew in Marine Ops had been keeping their ears to the ground and found a company willing to donate these critical components for the cost of shipping. These reels are the reason why we have been cleaning out the warehouse over the past few months, not a small task. Congrats to Tom Eberhard, Pat O'Reilly and their crews - and all of you who pitched in - for actually getting this done. For a while there, you could see the floor of the warehouse. It'll be full again soon enough, so forget your dreams of an indoor basketball court...

Lamont Weekly Report, August 5 2011

Our summer interns celebrated the completion of their program this week, with short presentations, a poster session, and a barbeque on the Comer deck. This was the 22nd year of the internship program in its current configuration, with Dallas Abbott in the lead. The program has evolved to include lectures on research methods and ethics, in addition to the usual menu of science entrees, and it should be recognized as one of the leading earth science intern programs in the country. This year, with the help of our Development team, we invited the parents of the interns and intern alumni to participate in last-day activities. One of the parents, a professor at a well-known college with an outstanding reputation, remarked on the excellence of our program and the enthusiasm of interns and mentors alike. Agreed! Thanks to the many folks who make this program the success it is, and thanks to the agencies, the PIs, and the Earth Institute for continuing their support...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 29, 2011

The chaos on Capitol Hill should remind us that we're not insulated from the national discussion (if you could call it that - I have doubts) on when and how we should invest in our future. The old maxim that we can't apply science unless the science is there to apply holds more than ever. So we continue to track the budget bills in Congress in as much detail as we can. The House started the process and, not surprisingly, set a low target for federal agency funding. This is ahistorical trend, amplified by the current political rhetoric...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 22, 2011

Kim Martineau and David Funkhouser, with input from Maya Tolstoy and Jim Gaherty, organized a TV Media training workshop on Tuesday. I wasn't able to attend, but I heard it went well. (I was visiting some of our donors in their Park Avenue offices that morning. It's a parallel universe, but that's a tale for another time.) Given the importance of our science to public discourse and the frequent need to respond to press inquiries, we should be supportive of our media team's efforts to help us deliver our message appropriately, professionally, to various audiences and through traditional and "new media" outlets. Although it takes a lot of effort to organize one of these workshops, I hope we can run them on a regular basis...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 15, 2011

I had a smooth, non-turbulent flight back from Beijing on Monday, after an interesting 2-day conference on sustainability at Renmin (People's) University. The link between China's economic growth and CO2 is indisputable, but at least China's latest 5-year plan (the twelfth) is trying to "bend the curve," so to speak. Reality has set in, though. Fleets of bicycles have given way to electric scooters, and private cars have taken over the ring roads. What used to be a 30-minute ride from the airport now takes 90 minutes or more...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 8, 2011

I’m traveling once again, so this will be brief:
 
Several of us went down to NSF on Wednesday to go over some of the final details of the Langseth Business Systems Review (BSR). It was a good set of meetings, and we left feeling confident about the upcoming panel review of our response to the BSR, scheduled for early September. While this has been a “task and a half,” it should leave us in a good position to maintain the Langseth as a crucial part of the academic fleet...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 1, 2011

I missed the delivery cutoff for last week’s report owing to turbulence, flying food carts (tossed salad and tossed flight attendants), a broken Boeing, an unexpected landing in Beijing, and a dicey internet connection. No injuries, but there were some chuckles as business class deplaned with more than a few wine stains on their shirts. Continental found replacement parts at the Capital Airport and we were back in the air about 20 hours later. Stuff happens, but I have to play catch up in this week’s report. So it will be a bit longer...

Lamont Weekly Report, June 17, 2011

I spent a couple of days this week in Amsterdam attending meetings of several IODP governing committees, along with Dave Goldberg and Mo Raymo (whose official starting date at Lamont was Wednesday). The meetings ended with a press conference highlighting the release of the IODP Science plan for 2013-2023, available at http://www.iodp.org and worth reading. The breadth of science dependent on a robust ocean drilling program is significant, notwithstanding the challenges inherent in keeping two drill ships and other platforms at sea. The overlap with the science done at Lamont is substantial, and future NSF support is essential. We are paying very close attention to the ongoing discussions with NSF program managers...

 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 10, 2011

Sunday in the Park with Lamonters:

The World Science Festival landed in Washington Square Park last Sunday, with Lamont providing exhibits, literature, and enthusiastic staffing. Our participation was organized by Stacey Vasallo and Erika Freimuth with additional leadership from Margie Turrin and Jill Van Tongren. The WSF, conceived by Brian Greene, has been a terrific experiment in linking science, the arts, exhibits and lectures, all in service to increasing public awareness of science, scientists, and local institutions. It draws huge crowds across a range of venues; we'll be looking at expanding our opportunities to participate in next year's festival. By the way, one of our network seismometers is installed in the Arch...

Lamont Weekly Report, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day:

A short week, beginning with an untold number of backyard barbecues and the ingestion of great-tasting carcinogens. The unofficial kick-off of summer sometimes obscures a greater message: the recognition that our lives and prosperity are built on the sacrifices of neighbors and friends, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. Some of our colleagues here at Lamont are veterans, and others may have felt immeasurable loss.  The historic clarities of war may have morphed into something else, but there is nothing opaque about the sacrifices made by servicemen and servicewomen...

Lamont Weekly Report, May 27, 2011

Hope springs eternal:

Won-Young Kim was cleaning up his space in seismology and found a brochure for a new "Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Building"to accommodate "a pressing need to bring together the over 100 scientists, engineers, graduate students and technicians" needed for a new earthquake engineering research center.  That center was NCEER (now
MCEER), which dates the brochure to ca. 1986. The building was to be built on the site where the OBS lab is now, and was designed to complement the Geoscience building, creating a "quad" on that part of the campus. As we ponder what might have been, it's worth noting that the Seismology/Marine Biology Building is approaching its 50th anniversary, not bad for a temporary structure...

Lamont Weekly Report, May 20, 2011

Better late than never:

Paraphrasing a memo dated 20 October, 2009, from the USGS Geographic Names Information System, which appeared mysteriously in my in-box: As a result of a science cruise on the R/V Gould in January 2009, an island 900 m long and 224 m high off the Antarctic Peninsula at 68 deg 36' 16" S and 71 deg 58' 38" W is named Martinson Island by the "US Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names after Douglas G. Martinson, the expedition leader and project co-Principal Investigator."...

Lamont Weekly Report, May 13, 2011

Mark's diaries:

We received a lovely letter from Lillian Langseth about a month ago letting us know that she had Mark's diaries and wanted to donate them to Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  From Lillian's letter:

"Marcus had a life long habit of writing down many things about his daily activities, some somewhat personal but mostly about his thoughts and ideas of the day. A large portion of these writings were in hard cover school notebooks. The collection relative to Lamont started in 1953 when he first came to Lamont as a summer intern working for Jack Oliver."..

Lamont Weekly Report, May 6, 2011

Martin Visbeck and some of his colleagues from Kiel spent this morning at Lamont, to discuss possible collaborations in ocean sciences. Martin is heading up an effort called "Future Oceans," one of Germany's "Excellence Clusters." The idea is to try to institutionalize some of the basic arrangements so that peer-to-peer research collaborations and scholarly exchanges can take place without too much administrative hassle. There is very good potential here, and I'll be working with the Associate Directors and folks at the Earth Institute to get this off the ground. Thanks to Peter Schlosser for setting this up, and to those of you who were able to participate on such short notice...