Lamont Weekly Report, August 17, 2012

Even after seven weeks at Lamont, my list of new experiences continues to grow. 

It is with pleasure that I make my first announcement of a promotion, that of Vicki Ferrini to Research Scientist (from Associate Research Scientist), effective 1 August. Vicki’s myriad contributions to marine geology and geoinformatics provide ample rationale for this well-deserved promotion.

This past week also marked my first opportunities to approve proposals from Lamont scientists with the Rascal proposal tracking system. Because I had been away from the campus last week, I heard only from colleagues who took pains to ensure that the science in their proposals to the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Sciences Division was as current as a mere one to two days before the 15 August submission deadline. The 16 Executive Summaries that I read provided a nice cross section of promising ideas for future projects among our staff.

During the week, Art Lerner-Lam and I held a number of discussions with others in the Earth Institute on continuing efforts to strengthen communication and programmatic ties between the Observatory and the Institute. On Tuesday we met with Carol Pooser in the EI development office and with Jennifer Genrich in the EI communications office. On Thursday, we met with Robert Lieberman (Interim Dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs) and Steve Cohen on setting out more formally Lamont’s role in the Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree program in Environmental Science and Policy that SIPA and EI have offered for the past 11 years. Thursday also marked the first monthly meeting of the EI “directorate” (Jeff Sachs, Steve Cohen, Peter Schlosser, and I) and our opening discussion of several of the major initiatives ahead for the Institute.

On Thursday, the Langseth sailed from Astoria, Oregon, on a 11-day cruise with Jason, a remotely operated vehicle of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. For several reasons, this cruise marks an important milestone for the Langseth. The cruise was arranged in response to an emergency request from the National Science Foundation made about two weeks earlier because of a failure in the drive system on the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. As a result of heroic efforts by the Office of Marine Operations and the Langseth officers and crew, Lamont’s ship was demonstrated in short order to be capable of accommodating the Jason and its companion Medea power and commanding system. Not only has the Langseth secured additional NSF-supported ship days for the year, but she is now expanding her sea record as a general-purpose oceanographic vessel.

Also on Thursday, Art and I visited with Noreen Doyle and Nicolette Witcher of the Hudson River Park Trust in Manhattan. The trust is seeking one or more organizations to operate an “estuarium” on the largely undeveloped Pier 26 on the park riverfront in Tribeca. As presently envisioned, the estuarium would feature a mix of regular scientific observations and educational and public outreach programs on the science of the Hudson. The possible role of Lamont in such an enterprise will be a topic of discussion among potentially interested staff members in the near future.

Kevin Krajick and Kim Martineau do a great job tracking the many stories in the media that feature science or scientists from Lamont, but I hope that you will take a few minutes to hear Richard Seager’s interview on National Public Radio this week on “mega-droughts.” The full show is posted at, and Richard’s portion begins about 13 minutes into the program. I predict that the show will trigger a strong desire to seek a glass of water.