Lamont Weekly Report, February 8, 2013

    The end of the week finds all of us witnessing the arrival of blizzard conditions, after the cancellation today of several Lamont seminars, meetings, and the Earth Science Colloquium. And this on a day when an ancestor to placental mammals, including Homo Sapiens, was announced in an article in today’s Science, implicating a post-K–T time for the radiation of placentals (

    I am pleased to announce that Indrani Das, formerly a Postdoctoral Research Scientist, has been appointed as an Associate Research Scientist effective this month. Indrani works with the polar geophysics group on air-ice interactions and mass balance models for polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers.

    On Monday and Tuesday, I participated in a review of the undergraduate and graduate education programs of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at UCLA. I find that such reviews provide a thorough and often instructive view into how a sister organization strives to balance curricular needs, research priorities, finite resources, faculty diversity goals, and student recruitment issues.

    The week has been one filled with the proffering of Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow and Postdoctoral Research Scientist positions and the hosting of visits by several of those considering such offers. Thanks to the work of the Fellow selection committee, these offers have been made earlier than has been usual in past years, but even so we are finding that some of our top candidates received offers from other institutions ahead of ours. If you are involved in the recruitment of any of the outstanding young scientists still deciding whether to join us at Lamont, please redouble your efforts.

    In DC news, the list of senior scientists leaving administrative positions in Washington grew this week with the announcement Tuesday that Subra Suresh will step down as Director of the National Science Foundation at the end of March to take the Presidency of Carnegie Mellon University ( It was only late last week that Steven Chu wrote to coworkers that he would step down from his position as Secretary of Energy within a few weeks. Departures announced earlier include USGS Director Marcia McNutt at the end of next week and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco at the end of this month. In the meantime, an e-mail broadcast from AGU today reminds us that sequestration of federal science agency budgets will go into effect on 1 March unless Congress acts on budget and deficit issues by that date.

    New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation announced this week that they would study the relationship between hydraulic fracturing in oil shale and induced seismicity, a topic central to an op ed piece by Geoff Abers in the Albany Times Union last week. Geoff is cited in news stories on the DEC announcement ( In other news, Robin Bell, Mike Kaplan, and Nick Frearson were interviewed for a story Tuesday in The (Rockland) Journal News on the IcePod project and other Lamont work on ice sheet structure and paleoclimate in the Arctic and Antarctic (

    This morning, Art Lerner-Lam, Allison Miller (Earth Institute), and I met with Joan Kaufman, Director of the Columbia Global Center in Beijing, and Merit Janow, Co-director of Columbia’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Study Center, to discuss an initiative by a group of Chinese business and political leaders to develop an “Antarctic Forum” to address environmental and global commons issues for the region. One of the members of the Advisory Board to the Global Center has invited Columbia University participation, and we agreed to provide a list of Antarctic research programs led by Lamont scientists as well as a set of questions that the forum group might consider during discussions at their first extended meeting – on a cruise from Buenos Aires to Antarctica and back – later this month.

    As the snowfall accumulates, may you all arrive home safely and remain warm and dry over the weekend.