Lamont Weekly Report, July 31, 2020

    Hello Friends,  As I start writing this (on Thursday) of course there is only one thing I really need to say:  HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY MARIE THARP!!!!  What a special moment to reflect upon this early pioneer in oceanography, someone who not only helped put the Earth on the map, but also helped put Lamont on the map.  There has been so much great content about Marie this week, from twitter posts, to interviews, to photographs, to podcasts, to videos — she has clearly become a hero to many, and rightly so. 

    A couple highlights for me were hearing Marie talk, in her own voice, at the beginning of the Pod of the Planet podcast entitled “Marie Tharp’s Girl Talk”, as well as seeing the amazing comparison between her map and modern bathymetry in Vicki Ferrini’s engaging “story map”.  It was fun to read Ocean Speaks, a children’s book about Marie’s life that I recommend for any Lamont parent with kids under 8 — it is a very sweet book.  Marie was so marginalized in the 1980s when I was at Lamont that, even though I knew her name and knew that she lived nearby, I never met nor saw her.   The full significance of what she had accomplished was lost on me — it was the Heezen-Tharp map and people seemed to take the map for granted.  At that time, it was Walter Pitman’s age of the seafloor map and Bill Haxby’s ocean gravity map that were inspiring admiration!  A former Lamonter, Mimi Katz, recently told me that Marie labelled a seamount near the Drake Passage Inky after her pet poodle.  I spent some time this week with a magnifying glass looking for it but did not find it….perhaps it’s an urban myth.

    As we go from scientists of the past to scientists of the future, I’d like to congratulate Seung Hun Baek, who defended his PhD thesis on Monday entitled "Hydroclimatic Black Swans: Characterization of the Oceanic and Atmospheric Drivers of Spatially Widespread Droughts in North America".  I would also like to congratulate Mukund Palat Rao who, on Wednesday, successfully defended his thesis, "Hydroclimate variability and environmental change in Eurasia over the past millennium and its impacts".  Wishing you both much success as you take your next steps.  In other Lamont news, Adjunct Senior Research Scientist Geoff Abers became Chair of the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department at Cornell and Adjunct Senior Research Scientist Nikki Davi became Chair of the Department of Environmental Science at William Paterson University.  I also have to give another shout-out to Peter deMenocal who will become the next President and Director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute this fall.  I sent an all-Lamont announcement out last week but should have mentioned it in the Friday newsletter as well.  Honestly, by the time Friday comes, Monday seems like it was a fortnight ago. 

    In other news, Cristina Mittermeier’s Summer Stars Lecture “Life on the Water’s Edge” on Tuesday was absolutely beautiful and inspiring.  Thank you to everyone who sent feedback—I appreciate it.  DEES announced that the GRE requirement will be removed for future applicants to the PhD program. This move, adopted by a growing number of universities, will hopefully allow for a more diverse and inclusive participation in our graduate program. Research suggests that tests such as the GRE not only tend to disadvantage marginalized students, but are also not an effective predictor of student success. Finally, the DEI Task Force is planning to host a Lamont-wide Listening Session on Wednesday, August 5, from 12:30 to 1:55pm.  Their goal is “to make sure that no voice goes unheard in our comprehensive inventory of where obstacles and barriers lie, what we can do to invigorate already successful programs, and what structures remain to be built. We have put together a form for people to sign up to participate in the listening session.”  Please save the date. 

    Another date to pay attention to is Friday, August 7th.  This is the Colloquium Committee’s deadline, hopefully soft, for accepting nominations for this year’s colloquium speakers (please use this simple form).  This year's committee includes student members Tanner Acquisto (MGG), Shanice Bailey (OCP), Alexandra Balter (Geochemistry), Clara Chang (BPE), Sarah Giles (SGT), and Joohee Kim (Geochemistry) with Kevin Uno as faculty liaison. From Kevin, “We are assembling an exciting lineup of speakers for this year with an emphasis on diversity among the speakers. We encourage members of the Lamont community who are submitting nominations to consider this an opportunity to increase diversity in our community.  And think big!  Since we are virtual, speakers can be from anywhere on Earth or even the space station (if they have Zoom).”  Imagine that!  Even in space you probably can’t escape zoom….

    I also want to remind everyone of Art’s email on July 24 (Subject: Lamont Campus Research Ramp-up Update) which stated, “Effective Monday, July 27, the Research Group A list will be expanded, and AD's will schedule to allow up to 50% building occupancy, including private offices, and allowing 1 on 2, face to face, indoor meetings.  Outdoor meetings of 4 or 5 will also be permitted subject to distancing and appropriate hygiene measures. All buildings are now accessible for critical research that cannot be performed remotely, with limited office occupancy permitted for those who cannot work effectively remotely.  The overarching guidance remains if you can work effectively remotely, continue to do so.  Employees who are not reliant on the shuttle for transportation are now permitted to work outside of normal hours to conduct critical research, subject to the approval of their supervisor and/or DA.”  Continued thanks to Art, Pat, Edie, Steve, Howie, and many others who work so hard to keep us safe.

    More (important) housekeeping….this week LDEO IT released a Desktop/Laptop Endpoint Protection and Registration form that everyone should fill out in order to document their compliance with national standards that Columbia policies are based on.  The form itself is a simple one, but before completing it you will need to bring your devices into compliance, so the responses serve as an affirmation of compliance instead of lack of it.  Mahdad’s IT staff will offer zoom sessions to help you absorb the issues involved.   Please look for the reminders about this form, and the virtual office hours offered to go over the policies in the coming days.  

    I’ve felt more stressed out than usual this week — of course there are the invisible-virus-particles-floating-in-the-air, but so much else is going on in the world as well.  If you are protesting consider reading this helpful information from The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund and please be safe.  And again, reach out to Virginia in HR or any of the many resources Columbia offers if you are struggling — we are all struggling but you know what I mean — don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

    Finally, today marks my one-month anniversary of becoming Interim Director.  It has been a wonderfully busy month with the highlight being all the new people I have met and gotten to know in this new role, both at Lamont and on the downtown campus.  Of all these people, the person I’ve spent the most virtual time with is Art Lerner-Lam and I’d like to give him a special thanks for being such a great colleague and Deputy Director.  Art has been at Lamont since the mid-80s — a “lifer” — and there are few I know that are as dedicated to Lamont and its people as he.  Over the last month, his integrity, frankness, support, and wry humor have made this transition far easier for me than it might otherwise have been.  I am especially grateful for the large amount of mundane, yet very important administrative demands that he moved from my shoulders to his own, giving me the bandwidth to focus on strategic initiatives and interactions with the Lamont campus and wider Earth Institute community.  Thank you so much Art.

    Wishing everyone a relaxing summer weekend.

                         Best, Mo







Lamont celebrated Marie Tharp’s 100th birthday all week long on social media (#MarieTharp100). A kick-off blog post includes all of the Marie Tharp posts that have been released this week. You may note the Marie Tharp blog posts, Andy Revkin's Sustain What with Vicki Ferrini & Dawn Wright, Episode 8 of Pod of the Planet podcast entitled “Marie Tharp’s Girl Talk”.  Lamont also launched our new Marie Tharp website where all of our new MT content is housed (along with lots of other resources), including Mo’s reading of Ocean Speaks ( and her companion video on why we celebrate MT ( 




Earth's Ocean Floor Is Less Well Mapped than Other Planets
July 30, 2020
Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.

100 Years of Marie Tharp - The Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor and Laid the Foundations of Modern Geology
EGU Blogs 
July 30, 2020
Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.

Marie Tharp: An Inspiration for the Past, Present and Future
EGU Blogs 
July 30, 2020
Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.

Paris Beehives Trace Notre-Dame’s Toxic Fallout
The New York Times 
July 29, 2020
Article cites research by Lamont geochemist Lex van Geen.

Marie Tharp Pioneered Mapping the Bottom of the Ocean 6 Decades Ago – Scientists Are Still Learning about Earth’s Last Frontier
The Conversation 
July 28, 2020
Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.

Marie Tharp at 100
The Map Room 
July 27, 2020
Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.

A Future of Retreating Glaciers in the Himalayas
July 27, 2020
Article quotes Lamont geochemist Joerg Schaefer.

Marie Tharp's Seafloor
Story Map 
July 23, 2020
Story map by Lamont marine geophysicist Vicki Ferrini.

Notre Dame Fire Released More Lead Dust into Air than First Estimated
July 23, 2020
Article on research by Lamont geochemist Lex van Geen.

WHOI Appoints New President and Director
Ocean News 
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Article features Lamont paleoceanographer and Center for Climate and Life director Peter de Menocal.



Pod of the Planet Ep. 8: Marie Tharp's Girl Talk
July 30, 2020 
In this episode of Pod of the Planet, we celebrate the life of Marie Tharp and the inspiration she has been and continues to be to many scientists today.

8 Surprising Facts About Marie Tharp, Mapmaker Extraordinaire
July 29, 2020 
Maybe you already know that she created some of the first maps of the ocean floor and helped discover plate tectonics. Here are some lesser-known facts about this history-making cartographer.

Lamont’s Marie Tharp: She Drew the Maps that Shook the World
July 27, 2020
On the 100th anniversary of her birth, her grit and brilliance are as legendary as her work.

Marie Tharp’s Adventures in Mapping the Seafloor, In Her Own Words 
July 24, 2020
The pioneering mapmaker explains how she and her colleagues discovered underwater mountain ranges 40,000 miles long, and helped to show that the continents are not stationary.