Lamont Weekly Report, May 22, 2015

     Commencement Week at Columbia has marked not only the awarding of degrees to many of the students in the Lamont community but also the change in academic season. On Sunday I attended, and spoke at, the Ph.D. Convocation for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ( Joining the faculty for the event were Nick Christie-Blick, Bärbel Hönisch, and Pratigya Polissar. Among the Ph.D. candidates who participated were Shuoshuo Han, Gene Henry, Ge Jin, Raj Moulik, Rui Pei, Cassy Rose, John Templeton, Kaori Tsukui-Shockey, Stephen Veitch, Mike Wolovick, and Yang Zha. Not a bad showing for our campus! 

    NASA this week announced winners of 2015 Earth and Space Science Fellowships ({95EC29B1-C074-F67B-F246-79B14642063D}&path=open). Among the new fellows in Earth science (and their advisors) are graduate students Winnie Chu (Robin Bell), Xiaoqiong Sage Li (Mingfang Ting), and Jan-Erik Tesdal (Joaquim Goes) from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Bernard Lipat from the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics (Lorenzo Polvani). Congratulations to all!
    Wally Broecker will be receiving an honorary degree next month from the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Lamont alumna Sherry Schiff, a Professor of Environmental Geochemistry at Waterloo and a former student of Wally’s, will be presenting Wally’s citation at the convocation ceremony. Congratulations once again, Wally!
    On Monday, in an article posted online by Nature Geoscience, Arnold Gordon, Bruce Huber, and their colleagues reported results from oceanographic observations and global ocean and sea ice models indicating that much of the warming of the oceans since the end of the last century has been carried from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean by the Indonesian Throughflow. That the Indian Ocean accounts for 70% of the heat uptake by the global ocean over the past decade underscores the importance of that ocean in modulating global climate variability. A Kevin Krajick story on their work was posted on Wednesday (
    On Monday and Tuesday, I was in Houston to chair the Visiting Committee for the Lunar and Planetary Institute. The institute, operated by the Universities Space Research Association, conducts research and manages a number of meetings, workshops, and publications for the planetary science community.
    In yesterday’s issue of Nature, an article on which Chris Lepre and Dennis Kent are coauthors documents radiometric and magnetostratigraphic evidence that stone tools associated with Pliocene hominin fossils in West Turkana, Kenya, date from 3.3 million years ago. This work pushes the earliest known hominin use of stone tools back in time by 700,000 years. A Kevin Krajick story on these findings has been posted on the Lamont website (
    Yesterday and today, Art Lerner-Lam, Kathy Callahan, Kuheli Dutt, Kim Schermerhorn, and I joined Associate Directors Roger Buck, Rosanne D’Arrigo, Jim Gaherty, Dave Goldberg, Steve Goldstein, and Mingfang Ting in the annual performance reviews for all of our scientific staff. Thanks to the considerable prior efforts of our Human Resources staff, this comprehensive and informative overview of research progress across the Observatory over the past year can be accomplished in a day and a half.
    The Education section ( of the Lamont website has recently received a facelift, thanks to the efforts of Cassie Xu, our Education and Outreach Coordinator, and Ariana Falerni, our webmaster. The new layout has been designed to organize our education and outreach activities by audience and to make the site more navigable for anyone interested in our educational programs. These pages will be updated regularly throughout the coming academic year to highlight additional programming. If you have any questions, feedback, or new material, please contact Cassie.
    Another addition to our website is an essay on Lamont’s Research as Art exhibit ( posted by Kyle Frischkorn and David Funkhouser. Organized this year by Kyle, Hannah Rabinowitz, Colin Raymond, and Maayan Yehudai, the exhibit is an annual event designed to display the artistry inherent in many scientific images and illustrations. Awards are given to top entries, and prizes this year went to Dee Breger’s collage of scanning electron microscope images and Mike Wolovick’s radar cross section of a Greenland ice sheet. The works are still on display in the Lamont Café.
    Next week, as a further indicator of the change in academic season, the campus will welcome the new class of Lamont Summer Interns. In the meantime, may you take appropriate note of the Memorial Day holiday and enjoy the three-day weekend.