Lamont Weekly Report, June 28, 2013

     This week was notable for President Obama’s address at Georgetown University on Tuesday afternoon devoted in its entirety to the steps his administration will take to address global climate change. After laying out what the New York Times called “sweeping measures” to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, stimulate alternative energy usage, and partner with states and municipalities on climate adaptation strategies (, the President ended on an eloquent note: “The challenge we must accept will not reward us with a clear moment of victory. There’s no gathering army to defeat. There’s no peace treaty to sign…Our progress here will be measured differently — in crises averted, in a planet preserved. But can we imagine a more worthy goal?”

     I am pleased to announce several promotions within the ranks of the Lamont research faculty. Michela Biasutti, Ben Holtzman, Mike Kaplan, Donna Shillington, and Susanne Straub have been promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor. Suzana Camargo, Andreas Thurnherr, and Xiaojun Yuan have been promoted to Lamont Research Professor. All promotions will be effective as of 1 July.

     An administrative change is in the works in the Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics Division. Geoff Abers will be stepping down from the Associate Director position after nearly two and a half years of thoughtful and effective leadership. As of 1 July, the new Associate Director for Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics will be Jim Gaherty.
     Peter Sobel joined Lamont this week as the Observatory’s new Director of Strategic Initiatives, Development, and External Relations. Pete (no known relation to Adam) brings a quarter century of experience in fund raising, communications, program building, raising institutional visibility, and developing strategic initiatives at Yale, Rutgers, and the Foundation of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. For the past seven years he has been Director of Corporate and Foundation Partnerships and Senior Director of Global Business Development at IEEE, where he was responsible for identifying new business opportunities with a focus on emerging markets and developing partnerships with major technology companies and non-governmental organizations. Pete earlier served as a legislative aid in the U.S. Senate and is a certified SCUBA Rescue Diver.
     Another new arrival to Lamont this month is Tara Brant, the Division Administrator for our Marine Geology and Geophysics Division. Tara received a Masters of Public Health degree from the Mailman School, and she held administrative positions for several programs in medical education at the Columbia Medical School. More recently Tara worked in the educational division of the New York University School of Medicine.
     Please join me in congratulating Suzana, Andreas, Xiaojun, Michela, Ben, Mike, Donna, Susanne, and Jim on their new positions, thanking Geoff for his many contributions to Observatory leadership, and welcoming Tara and Pete to the Lamont community.
     On Monday, the port engine on the R/V Langseth failed during the collection of multi-channel seismic data to image the structure of the Galicia Rift. Because the needed engine repair is best done in port, the scientific party spent 12 hours recovering all of the streamers, air guns, and associated gear in the water, and the ship returned to Vigo, Spain, fortunately a short steam away. By Tuesday, a technician from the engine manufacturer was on board, and by Thursday a damage assessment had been completed and all needed parts had been located and ordered. The scientific party has been in contact with NSF over whether the cruise dates might be extended to ensure that most of the planned data acquisition can be completed.
     On Monday, I participated in the first day of a two-day review of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. The day consisted of a well-orchestrated series of thoughtful talks by IRI leadership and staff on the history and current project mix of the institute, as well as opportunities for new directions. The follow-on discussions on this campus will provide a strong basis for strengthening research ties between the IRI and the Observatory, as well as with other units of the Earth Institute. Others from Lamont who took part in the review included Mark Cane, Peter deMenocal, Yochanan Kushnir, Art Lerner-Lam, and Peter Schlosser.
     Another in a series of meetings on opportunities for expanding the partnership between NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University was held Tuesday morning in Mike Purdy’s office. Participants included Nicholas White (Director, Sciences and Exploration Directorate), Piers Sellers (Deputy Director, Sciences and Exploration Directorate), and Peter Hildebrand (Director, Earth Sciences Division) from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Dean of Science Amber Miller; Gavin Schmidt from GISS; and Peter Schlosser and me from the Earth Institute. Gavin will be heading an effort to define a vision and direction for the new partnership, and the group will meet again in mid-August. On a visit to Lamont that afternoon, White, Sellers, and Hildebrand were treated to a tour of Lamont’s Core Repository led by Maureen Raymo, Nichole Anest, and Angel Mojarro; a tour of the IcePod laboratory led by Robin Bell and Nick Frearson; and a wide-ranging discussion of ongoing and planned collaborations between scientists on the Lamont Campus and GISS that included Michela Biasutti, Suzana Camargo, Peter deMenocal, Hugh Ducklow, Arlene Fiore, Joaquim Goes, Yochanan Kushnir, Dorothy Peteet, Michael Previdi, Richard Seager, Tiffany Shaw, Lisa Goddard and Haresh Bhojwani from IRI, and Marc Levy from CIESIN. Our NASA visitors left with a much deeper impression of the breadth of activities in climate science on this campus than when they arrived.
     The Lamont Borehole Research Group (BRG) received a letter this week from Kate Moran, President of Ocean Networks Canada, singling out for thanks the contributions of Gerry Iturrino and Walt Masterson to the successful completion of the Simple Cabled Instrument for Measuring Parameters In situ (SCIMPI) project. SCIMPI is a new seafloor observatory instrument designed to measure temperature, pressure, and electrical resistivity over time in the sub-seafloor, and the BRG team members played key roles in the development and installation of the instrument as part of the Neptune Canada seafloor observatory network.
     Lamont’s 9th Excellence in Mentoring Award Ceremony is being held this afternoon in the Monell Auditorium. The award recognizes the importance of thoughtful mentoring of students and young scientists by our staff members ( Nominees this year include Bob Anderson, Louise Bolge, Merry Cai, Jean Hanley, Bärbel Hönisch, and Susanne Straub, and the Excellence in Mentoring Award for 2013 is going to Bärbel. I hope that you will all have an opportunity to join me in congratulating all of this year’s nominees for their contribution to the professional growth of our younger colleagues.
     This weekend will serve as a sort of New Year’s Eve, because next Monday marks the beginning of 2014 on both the academic and fiscal calendars. I’m confident that you will find an appropriate way to celebrate.