The Effects of Your Contribution Will Endure Long After the Term of the Award
The importance of endowment funding can be conveyed through the story of Marie Tharp, who joined Lamont-Doherty in the 1950s to map the sea-depth measurements collected on Lamont's research cruises. Marie’s intuitive grasp of Earth’s physical systems enabled her to discern patterns and correlations in the data she encountered. Slowly the ocean bottom assumed an identifiable structure with seafloor ridges circumventing the globe. These maps became vital to the Observatory's success in developing a theory of plate tectonics.
Many of the revelatory ideas generated at the Observatory have their roots in Marie’s contributions:
• Robin Bell served as a chief scientist on the recent International
Polar Year Antarctic expedition to map the subglacial Gamburtsev
Mountains. Like Marie, Bell integrates data to infer hidden landscapes,
in this case employing sophisticated radar to survey the previously
unmapped mountain range.
• In awarding Maya Tolstoy their Women of Discovery prize, Wings
WorldQuest presented Tolstoy with the very pin they had once given
to Marie. Tolstoy examines how earthquakes impact life at the oceans’
• Donna Shillington investigates the fringes of Marie’s ocean maps—
the edges of continents. These regions record the manner in which
oceans form (through a process of continental breakup), or contract,
as one plate slides under another.
• Suzanne Carbotte constructs high-resolution, time-lapse images of the
magma chambers beneath ridges at the East Pacific Rise. Carbotte also
collaborates with William Ryan on Virtual Ocean (www.virtualocean.org)
—a digital mapping application that allows scientists from around the
world to gain instant access to the seafloor’s deepest chasms.
An entire lineage of researchers can be traced back to Marie. And because Bell, Tolstoy, Carbotte and Shillington mentor extraordinary students of their own, Marie lives on as a foundation for other researchers. An investment in one researcher supports an entire succession of scientists—each building upon the work of his or her mentor.
In her final years, Marie assumed the role of a visionary philanthropist, leaving the Observatory a bequest to help support subsequent generations of scientists who, like her, will participate in the quest for new knowledge. She understood that endowed funding creates a steady stream of resources that empowers Lamont-Doherty to attract and retain the brightest minds in the field.
We encourage you to make a gift that builds the Observatory’s endowment and sustains its scientific legacy.
If you would like to make a gift, please contact Stacey Vassallo at 845-365-8634.