Lamont Weekly Report, February 22, 2013

    The highlight of this week was the award of the Vetlesen Prize on Thursday evening to Jean Jouzel, of the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et l’Environnement of the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, and Susan Solomon, of MIT. Attendance at the reception, dinner, and awards ceremony in the Low Library rotunda exceeded 230, a record for a Vetlesen Prize evening. Many from Lamont attended in their formal wear, including a number of graduate students and alumni. Also joining the occasion were Lamont Advisory Board members George Becker, Pat Daly, Jeffrey Gould, Frank Gumper, Julian Sproule, and their spouses and guests. The logistical arrangements for the evening were superbly orchestrated by Stacey Vassallo, Vilma Gallagher, and their colleagues. 

    Joining Lamont this week is Ricardo Ramalho, a Marie Curie Postdoctoral International Fellow. Ricardo obtained his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Bristol, and he has worked since then as a postdoctoral researcher there and at the University of Muenster. Ricardo is an expert on the uplift history of the islands of the Cape Verde and Azores archipelagos, and among the tools of his work are cosmogenic nuclides. At Lamont, Ricardo will be working in Joerg Schaefer’s laboratory.
    On Monday, a call went out for proposals to the Earth Clinic ( and Cross-Cutting Initiatives ( programs of the Earth Institute. Instructions for submitting proposals may be obtained from the Director’s Office. The proposal deadline for both programs is 1 May.
    On Tuesday, the Earth Institute announced that they have initiated a Grants Management Roundtable, designed to “provide the Earth Institute grants management community a regular opportunity for the exchange of information, ideas, best practices, and solutions related to the overall grants management process and government funding search.”  The Observatory will send a representative to the first meeting of the roundtable, to be held on Friday of next week.
    On Thursday, Columbia University announced plans to establish a high-performance computing cluster with a minimum of 48 nodes. Routes for participation in the cluster include purchase of nodes by individuals or groups of users, rental of a system share by a single user, and free use on a time-available basis for students and postdoctoral scientists. Information sessions for interested researchers will be held next Friday and the following Tuesday. Anyone interested in attending one of those sessions should so indicate on
    Lamont’s Strategic Planning Committee hosted a lively Town Hall meeting in the Monell auditorium on Friday. Full audience participation was ensured by tasking every attendee to submit, respectively on yellow and pink Post-it notes, three “grand challenges” for the Observatory and two major obstacles to meeting those challenges. The audience was then treated to a bit of theater as the committee members sorted the notes by topic, posted them on large sheets of papers taped to the windows at the back of the stage, and delivered verbal summaries of the grouped submissions by topic. A report from the committee to the campus in the near future will provide a distillation of the suggestions as a milestone on progress toward a final scientific strategic plan.
    In the news this past weekend, The Nation quoted Paul Richards in an article on last week’s nuclear test in North Korea ( On Tuesday, Richard Seager and his work on droughts were cited in an article in Scientific American ( on links between severe weather and climate change.
    At week’s end, we are one week from the sequestering of federal agency budgets, with no evident sign that a political agreement, such as the one reached two months ago, will stave off automatic budget reductions. The consequences of the impending sequestration are myriad, and notwithstanding the frequently hyperbolic language used by representatives of the two political parties to describe the outcomes, federal science agencies will be strongly affected. Descriptions of such affects provided by a number of agencies, including NSF, in response to a request from the Senate Committee on Appropriations have been posted at If you feel so inclined, you might let your representatives in Congress know how these actions will affect your work and your scientific discipline.