Lamont Weekly Report, August 4, 2017

    Last week, when I mentioned the American Geophysical Union’s announcement of the members elected as AGU Fellows for 2017(, I neglected to note that Lamont and Columbia University alumnus Youxue Zhang is among the new Fellows. Youxue completed his Ph.D. thesis in 1989, under the supervision of Dave Walker, on the “Kinetics of crystal dissolution and rock melting: A theoretical and experimental study.” He’s currently the James R O'Neil Collegiate Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Michigan. Congratulations, Youxue!

    The Geochemistry Division this week welcomed the arrival of Stephen Cox as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Sid Hemming’s group. Stephen is not new to Lamont, having worked with Sid as a Columbia College undergraduate on the thermochronology of detrital sediments off Antarctica. In the intervening time, Stephen earned a Ph.D. in geochemistry at Caltech under the supervision of Ken Farley. At Lamont, Stephen will be working on a variety of thermochronology and geochronology projects and will assist in the installation and testing of a new noble gas mass spectrometer.

    On Monday, Lamont’s web site gained a Kevin Krajick press release on the paper posted online by Nature Geoscience last week by Anne Bécel, Donna Shillington, Spahr Webb, Jiyao Li, and colleagues on the seismic structure and tsunamigenic potential of the Shumagin Gap section of the Alaska subduction zone ( The story was picked up by Newsweek (, Forbes (, and other media.

    On Wednesday, the Lamont Summer Interns gave presentations on their summer research projects. A total of 22 students participated in the intern program this summer ( This year’s interns, their home institutions, and their Lamont mentors are as follows:


Zoe Berg Barnard College Goes, Yan
Rachel Buzeta University of Dayton Polissar, Uno, deMenocal, Phelps
Eliza Carter Wesleyan University Hemming, Kaplan, Cai, O’Connell
Elizabeth Faith Columbia College Costa, McManus
Helena Garcia University of Delaware Slagle, Goldberg
James Gibson Vassar College Goes
Dionne Hutson City College of New York Abbott, Block
Claire Johnston Barnard College Nitsche, Kenna
Anna Kaplan Barnard College Mendeloff, Baptista
Sufyan Khalid Columbia College Hemming
Madeleine Killough Barnard College Mailloux
Juliette Lamoureux City College of New York Menke
Shelly Lim Barnard College Yan, Goes
Clara Ma Yale University Westervelt, Fiore
Alyssa Marrero Kingsborough Community College Abbott, Menke
Leah Marshall College of William and Mary Leland, Andreu Hayles
Arianna Medina Dominican College Myers, Juhl
Robert Moon Columbia College Lev, Oppenheimer
Bevan Pearson University of Pennsylvania Franzese, Hemming, Goldstein, Cai
Eleanor Pressman Columbia College Clifton, Fiore
Ailin Valdivia-McCarthy Barnard College Reichgelt, D’Andrea
Margaret Zimmer Columbia College Cai, Broecker, Goldstein


    For those of you following the fiscal year 2018 appropriations process for federal science agencies, the American Institute of Physics posted on Wednesday a helpful comparison (,53228,E29F2E,JH43P,1) of the National Science Foundation budgets under the appropriations bills passed by the House and Senate appropriations committees. The final appropriations bill is likely to involve spending levels for NSF between those in the House and Senate bills in each major budget category, but continuing resolutions and omnibus appropriations bills are wild cards that may change the outcome. As ever, your legislators would welcome your views on the importance of a healthy budget for NSF and other science agencies.

    On Thursday, the August issue of Lamont’s electronic newsletter was distributed to the Observatory’s friends and subscribers ( The issue included links to stories about research at Lamont on carbon capture and storage, climate change impacts on air travel and precipitation patterns in the Sahel, connections between ice sheet melting in Greenland and algal blooms in the Labrador Sea, the recent calving of a Delaware-sized iceberg off the Larsen C ice shelf, and the seismic imaging of tsunamigenic structures along the Alaska subduction zone. Links to news stories about Lamont science and to blogs from Lamont scientists in the field, as well as to a preview of Lamont’s next Open House, round out the issue.

    I spent the workweek closeted in a hotel near Washington, D.C., evaluating spacecraft mission proposals as part of a NASA review panel. The panel meeting, which consumed a full person-year of planetary science experts, is but one step on a long road to final selection for flight of one of the proposed missions more than a year from now.

    We’ve begun the month in which most of the top administrators at Columbia University escape from New York City. May you all similarly find time to enjoy the last month of summer before we’re all jolted back to a new fall semester.