Lamont Weekly Report, March 23, 2012

Yes, I forgot to write a weekly report last Friday, so I'll have to cover a couple of weeks in this one.

We are well into our Spring Lecture series, starting with the tag-team performance of Heather Savage and Pratigya Polissar last Sunday, and continuing with Greg Mountain this coming weekend. We usually fill Monell Auditorium with an engaged audience - the questions are great - and this year is off to the same start. The Development Office (Barb,
Stacey and Erika) continues to do an impressive job organizing and publicizing the lectures, and Phil Fitzpatrick mans the A/V booth. The final two lectures will be on Tax Day, April 15 (Donna Shillington) and Earth Day, April 22 (Peter Kelemen). There's more information in the "Spotlight" section of our website.

We convened last week's meeting of the Lamont Advisory Board at the Columbia Club in Midtown, and followed it with another Director's Circle event. The Midtown location is convenient for many of our Board members, and for a new cohort of guests as well. Jim Davis gave a phenomenal and witty presentation on gravity (next stop: Caroline's) followed by a panel presentation on fracking (Malinverno, Savage, Anderson). Another full house. Our Board is increasingly engaged and supportive, and the Director's Circle concept is working well. This was Frank Gumper's first full meeting as Board Chair, and I look forward to his leadership as we continue to build support for the Observatory.

Contractors have started demolition work on the second floor of the New Core Lab, and the construction managers have taken up residence in the Sutton House (Guest House 6). The alley between the Geoscience Parking Lot and the Borehole back lot has been blocked off to all wheeled and bipedal traffic for safety reasons, so please observe the barriers.

The week of March 12th saw visits from two NSF Program Officers, who offered useful information on new cross-directorate initiatives as well as the core programs. As many have observed, NSF is encouraging more interdisciplinary research at the same time it needs to balance major facility operations with the core programs. This would be hard in any
budget environment, but especially so in the current one. Nevertheless, this office will continue to encourage visits by NSF and other agency program officers, and we are participating actively in DC budget discussions. Moreover, I recognize that the preparation of large multidisciplinary proposals requires a higher level of institutional support. For that, and for the increasingly complex requirements for matching funds from some agencies and foundations, please contact me as early as possible in the proposal preparation process.

Three whitetails were facing down a red fox outside Monell this morning. The geese are back and the spring peepers are peeping. The beach in front of Low Library is standing room only. I expect there to be a run of spring fever in the coming days.