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.

We’ve had several important visits during the last two weeks. The IEDA group – led by Kerstin Lehnert and Suzanne Carbotte - hosted a meeting of its Policy Committee, chaired by Bernard Minster. NSF’s EAR and OCE divisions are beginning to focus more strongly on integrated data management and end-user tools to accommodate the explosion of data and data products in the earth sciences. This has been one of our traditional strengths, and we are well positioned to lead this development and build community-based strategies. IEDA has been playing a leadership role – as have others at Lamont - and we should be able to leverage this into a broader institutional strategy for data management and computational infrastructure.
Our ADVANCE initiative was one of two US university programs chosen by the State Department to host a UN-sponsored delegation of institutional leaders. Kuheli Dutt organized some showcase discussions around themes of gender balance and diversity. Kuheli and her task force continue to work on defining our three-year goals and objectives, as part of a university-wide strategic planning effort to enhance diversity.
We have also hosted visits by the Dean of the School of Continuing Education, Kristine Billmyer, and the new Dean of Science, Amber Miller. I’ll talk more about these in my next report.
It’s July 1, the start of a new Columbia fiscal year, the real summer kickoff, and the halfway point of baseball season. And, let’s not forget Canada Day. The colonies will be celebrating the removal of monarchic oversight on July 4, which doesn’t seem to square up with our obsession with royal weddings. Not to mention the reverence we feel for the soaring heights of British rhetoric as well as Cowardly or Pythonesque humour. Or that band that popped up before Wings.
Kathy Callahan has joined this office as the new Deputy Director for Research Management, effective July 1. Kathy has had a long career in executive positions in the EPA and elsewhere, has taught management at SIPA, and, in recent months, has been assisting in the management of the IRI. She will bring a new level of analytical capability to the director’s office, and will be part of the executive management team that includes Edie Miller, Pat O’Reilly, Barb Charbonnet and Kuheli Dutt. Kathy will also help me manage the interactions with the other Earth Institute units on the Lamont Campus: CIESIN, IRI, and the Tropical Agriculture Program. This appointment has been made possible with funding from a special EI administrative support fund, set up by Steve Cohen.
July 1 also marks the turnover of the DEES Chair. For the last three years, Steve Goldstein has provided strong and sustained leadership of DEES, leaving it in exceptional shape as the new chair, Peter deMenocal, takes over. The DEES Chair also holds the ex officio title of Lamont Deputy Director for Education, and in this role, Steve has been a supportive – and critical – partner. Among many other initiatives, he played an essential role as part of the team that moved the Lamont Research Professor proposal from idea to reality. On a personal note, he has helped me immensely in keeping this interim transition period smooth and effective. Because of Steve, I’ve grown a new appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between Lamont and DEES, and for the role that those synergies could play in increasing support for Lamont Research Professors. Ultimately, as Steve has repeatedly said, we are all Lamonters.
The 2011 Goodfriend Prize, established by Lamont alum Florentin Maurrasse (PhD ’73) in memory of his friend, Glenn Goodfriend, was awarded to Jenny Arbuszewski. The Prize recognizes a student-first-authored paleoclimate paper published or in press. Jenny’s paper is “On the fidelity of shell-derived d18O seawater estimates” [Arbuszewski et al., EPSL 300, 2010]. Congratulations, Jenny.
A prior commitment kept me from attending a party honoring Linda Sheridan’s 33 years of service, and celebrating her well-earned retirement from Lamont. I also missed seeing some of the many friends and family who came back to Lamont to celebrate with Linda. Linda: remember, you are never an “ex-Lamonter.”
One year after John Diebold passed away, the Langseth is doing what she’s supposed to: collecting data off the Aleutians on a cruise led by Lamont scientists, in this case, Donna Shillington and Spahr Webb. (Donna has been writing about the project on the Lamont research blog site.) Soon, a team of undergraduates who were prepped by Donna and Maya Tolstoy will be writing about the cruise on a blog they named, appropriately, “Team Diebold goes to sea.” Watch our web site for it. The more time goes by, the more vividly we remember John’s contributions to our science and to the Lamont family. Every day the Langseth acquires data (and even those days it doesn’t), every time one of our marine scientists makes a discovery, and, indeed, every ordinary day at this extraordinary institution, is a celebration of John’s life.