Lamont Weekly Report, April 6, 2018

    This week the local weather has been as volatile as tweets from the White House, with a high temperature of 61°F in Central Park on Sunday, a second spring snowstorm on Monday morning, and high temperatures in the mid-fifties and widespread morning fog on Wednesday.

    Columbia University this week announced those who will be receiving honorary degrees at commencement next month (, and the terrific news is that Lynn Sykes will be among the honorees. Lynn will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree for his contributions to the establishment of the theory of plate tectonics and to the development of seismological methods for identifying and characterizing underground nuclear explosions, a key methodology that underlies the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

    By coincidence this week, along College Walk on the Morningside Campus, the vitrine for Columbia University Press includes a prominent poster for Lynn’s memoir, Silencing the Bomb. Patrick Fitzgerald from the Press wrote this to Lynn last week: “We feature leading titles that the Press publishes from Columbia faculty, so it is an eclectic collection. The vitrine will be up for all of April and maybe into early May.”

    The National Science Foundation this week announced recipients of their Graduate Research Fellowships as well as Honorable Mentions (, and our students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences had their usual good showing. Honorable Mentions went to DEES graduate students Carlos Martinez, Julian Spergel, and Thomas Weiss; and fellowship offers went to Tyler Janoski, Corey Lesk, Athena Nghiem, and Henry Towbin. Kudos to all!

    The Geochemistry Division this week welcomed Raphael Dussin as a new Senior Staff Associate. Raphael holds the equivalent of a master’s degree in physical oceanography from the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, and he joins us after spending five years with the Earth system modeling group in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. At Lamont, Raphael will be working in the groups of Galen McKinley and Ryan Abernathey on ocean physical and biogeochemical modeling projects.

    The Marine Geology and Geophysics Division, in turn, welcomed Postdoctoral Research Scientist Julen Alvarez-Aramberri. Julen recently completed a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in co-tutelage between the University of Basque Country and the University of Pau, under the supervision of David Pardo and Hélène Barucq, with a thesis on adaptive finite element simulation and inversion of magnetotelluric data. With a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Basque Government Ministry of Education, Julen is working in Kerry Key's group on the development and application of dimensionally adaptive methods for efficient inversion of electromagnetic data collected to study fluids in Earth's crust and upper mantle. 

    Also this week, Lamont’s Harassment Awareness Month concluded with a discussion of LGBTQ Awareness on Monday. Handouts from that discussion along with additional reading on the subject were distributed to everyone on the Lamont Campus Monday by Jenny Middleton and Sophie Hines. Laura Haynes and Lorelei Curtin followed with a mailing the next day that included the handout and reading materials from the discussion on Harassment in the Field held last week. Please join me in thanking all who participated and particularly Kuheli Dutt for organizing the month-long activities. We are planning that Harassment Awareness Month will repeat annually to ensure that the issues and solutions aired this past month will continue to guide our policies and our collective actions.

    On Wednesday, our Facilities office hosted a champagne reception for Juan Torres, on the occasion of his retirement after 49 years at Columbia University, including 23 years at Lamont. Held in the Lamont Café, the event featured food and festive remarks and was well attended by Juan’s Observatory colleagues and many members of his family. Even as Juan transitions to retirement, his son and grandson are working for Columbia, so the family connection continues.

    On Thursday, Lamont distributed electronically the April issue of our monthly newsletter ( Under the theme “Ocean health and Earth explorers,” the issue includes links to seven stories on Lamont science or scientists, and six media stories from the last month about Lamont research.

    On Monday, Spectrum News NY1 posted a feature on earthquake risk in New York City that included quotes from Won-Young Kim and a good summary of Lamont research on the seismicity of the region ( A related story, this one quoting Lynn Sykes, was carried by Newsmax on Wednesday ( Also on Wednesday, Susan Hellauer’s Earth Matters column in Nyack News & Views was devoted to the survey by Andy Juhl, Carol Knudson, and colleagues of common pharmaceuticals in the waters of the Hudson River estuary (

    On Friday of next week, the Extreme Weather and Climate Initiative is hosting an all-day conference in Morningside on “Urban Floods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.” According to the conference web site ( “Our focus for this conference is the relationship between physical development choices and environmental risk, with a specific focus on large-scale urban floods.” Suzana Camargo is one of the scheduled speakers.

    In the meantime, today’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by sedimentary geologist Shanan Peters (, the Dean L. Morgridge Professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Shanan will be speaking on “Earth’s long-term biogeochemical evolution: The view from the upper crust.” I hope that Lamont’s upper crust will join me in his audience.