Lamont Weekly Report, July 21, 2017

    Yesterday marked at least two milestones. It was the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, the first time humans walked on the Moon. And it was six months to the day after the start of the Trump administration. For different reasons, both of those events seem a very long time ago.

    This week, too, the extended Lamont family was saddened by the news that John Chute passed away last month. John was a graduate student at Lamont and Columbia University’s Department of Geology in the 1960s, and his Ph.D. thesis on “Polarization studies of geomagnetic rapid variations” was completed under the supervision of Jack Nafe and Jim Heirtzler in 1969. He remained at Lamont as a Research Associate in Mark Langseth’s heat flow group until the mid 1970s. He worked with Mark on the Apollo 15 and 17 heat flow measurements on the Moon, and he also made measurements at sea. He was co-chief scientist on a 1971 cruise of the R/V Robert Conrad between Cape Town and Mauritius on which the longest core then acquired by a Lamont ship was brought aboard. The crew memorialized the milestone with a poem and their signatures, written on two pieces of wood and later framed by John. His daughter Christina will donate the keepsakes to Lamont’s Core Repository. Christina wrote, “My sister and I grew up there as ‘Lamont brats’ in the 1960s and 1970s, when rules were lax and children were allowed to roam unattended, as long as we didn't go into any buildings or bother senior scientists. The ladies in personnel were an easy touch for dimes for the candy machine. I also worked there in high school (in Dennis Hayes's group) and after college (for Walter Pitman). It is a special place.” After his time at Lamont, John was a professor of geology at Lehman College, CUNY, for 30 years. He last lived in Tappahannock, Virginia, but he was born in Biddeford, Maine, where he grew up on a farm with neither electricity nor indoor plumbing. A memorial service will be held tomorrow afternoon at the Friends School of Portland, in Cumberland Foreside, Maine. Please send any remembrances of John or his time at Lamont, and I will be happy to share them with his daughters.

    Even as we bid collective farewell to a former Lamont colleague, we may also welcome a new arrival.

    New to the Lamont Directorate this week is Executive Assistant Victoria Carrasco. A graduate of Furman University who has taught English classes in Ecuador and Switzerland, Victoria has worked both in academia and the private sector. Her most recent position before joining the Observatory was as Executive Assistant to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Manhattanville College. Please drop by the Monell Building in the near future to introduce yourself to her!

    Yesterday, the American Geophysical Union announced the recipients of the society’s medals and awards for 2017 ( Former DEES Assistant Professor Tiffany Shaw, now at the University of Chicago, will receive AGU’s Macelwane Medal; and Brown University’s Don Forsyth, who spent his postdoctoral years at Lamont, will receive the Ewing Medal.

    At this month’s meeting of the Council of Deans, also held yesterday, Provost John Coatsworth updated attendees on the status of unionization of graduate research and teaching assistants. Columbia University’s request that the National Labor Relations Board rule on whether actions by union representatives and Board agents improperly affected the election outcome ( is pending at the Board, in anticipation that a ruling will be made after President Trump’s nominees for two open seats on the five-member Board are confirmed by the Senate. The Provost’s Office, through its Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, is preparing an online briefing on EOAA and Title IX issues that will be rolled out this fall. All Officers of Instruction and Officers of Research will be required to complete the briefing.

    Notwithstanding that we are experiencing New York City’s third heat wave of the calendar year, may you enjoy the late-July weekend.