Lamont Weekly Report, December 21, 2012

   If the number of holiday parties and their culinary offerings are measures of the collective enthusiasm and energy of an institution, then those qualities are at the highest levels at Lamont. I have attended nine such events in the last seven days, and I hope to make it a round ten after completing this report.
   Early this week, Bärbel Hönisch wrote to suggest that I mention in my weekly report the successful defense last week of a Ph.D. thesis by one of our graduate students. Her note made me realize that I had not been explicity marking such milestones for any of the new doctorates in our community. So in the spirit of one of those retrospective pieces at year’s end that lists those events most worthy of recall, I am pleased to call out here the successful Ph.D. defenses by our graduate students over the past six months, the time since my arrival at the Observatory:
   Kandaga Pujiana, July 6, "Makassar Strait intraseasonal variability."

   Elizabeth Pierce, July 30, “Antarctica’s geologic and ice sheet history from isotopic sedimentary provenance studies.”
   Xinfeng Liang, August 6, "Influence of mesoscale eddies on the deep ocean dynamics over the East Pacific Rise."
   Ashley Shuler, September 4, "Investigations of anomalous earthquakes at active volcanoes."
   Janelle Homburg, August 27, "Field and theoretical investigations of strain localization: Effects of mineralogy, shear heating and grain size evolution in the Earth."

   Emmi Yonekura, October 9, "Tropical cyclones and climate: A risk assessment using statistical models.”
   Stephen Brusatte, November 8, “The phylogeny of basal coelurosaurian theropods (Archosauria: Dinosauria) and patterns of morphological evolution during the dinosaur–bird transition."

   Daniel Ruiz Carrascal, November 12, "Adaptation strategies to climate change in the tropics: Analysis of two multi-factorial systems."

   Katherine Allen, December 14, "Boron in foraminiferal calcite as an indicator of seawater carbonate chemistry."
   Just as impressive as the number of new Ph.D. degrees completed within a six-month interval is the diversity of the thesis topics on which our former students completed original research. Please join me in congratulating all of our most recent alumni on the successful completion of their graduate programs.
   This week I had an enjoyable introduction to the current projects and aspirations of the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program, led by Pedro Sanchez and Cheryl Palm. Earlier this month, the faculty of the Earth Institute voted their approval for a proposal to change the designation of this program to the Agriculture and Food Systems Center. During my visit with Pedro and Cheryl, I was introduced to members of the program team and given an armful of background reading, which should serve as stimulus to new ideas for how Lamont can forge stronger scientific alliances with our campus neighbors as they transition to a new university center.
   Also this week, the search committee for Lamont’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Development, and External Relations interviewed the last six of the eight most promising applicants. We hope to fill this important open position within the coming month.
   To all in the Lamont community, may your holidays be joyful and relaxing, and may your new year be one of discovery and excitement.