Lamont Weekly Report, June 4, 2021

    Hello Friends,  I’ll start with a walk down memory lane.  Retired Lamont scientist and historian John Armbruster reminded me last week that last Friday was the 70th anniversary of the official dedication of Lamont Geological Observatory.  Work was already well underway in Lamont Hall and Maurice Ewing was the Founding Director.  I have been reading Naomi Oreskes’ fascinating book “Science on a Mission” about the early days of the three major oceanographic institutions, Lamont, Scripts, and Woods Hole.  Cold war submarine warfare needs for better navigation maps and better understanding of sonar signal transmission in the ocean drove huge government block grants to these institutes, including navy ship support.  Central to all this research was an ongoing debate/battle/negotiation over whether the massive amounts of observational data collected should be classified.  Much of it was and Naomi discusses how that impacted the pace and unfolding of the plate tectonic revolution.  I look forward to reading more this weekend.

    As I wrote earlier in the week, Prof. Art Lerner-Lam will be stepping down as Deputy Director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory on July 1, 2021.  I am deeply grateful to Art who agreed to stay on temporarily when I stepped into the role of Interim Director in July of last year. Art has worn many hats at Lamont over the decades, starting as a junior researcher, carrying out ground-breaking work as a seismologist, capably leading Lamont as Deputy Director, and even stepping in as Interim Director about a decade ago.  More recently, I know we are all grateful for his incredible dedication in guiding our campus through the pandemic, especially during those early dark days fraught with uncertainty and fear—his was a steady calm voice in a chaotic world.  I am also glad to say that Art has agreed to continue as the campus COVID liaison as we navigate our return to “normalcy” in September.  

    Please also join me in congratulating DEES faculty member Prof. Maya Tolstoy who was named Dean of the University of Washington School of the Environment.  Maya plans to start in January and is now the third DEES faculty member who has taken over leadership of a major national Earth and ocean centered research institution in the last 12 months.  #Lamontleads!

    Also moving on is Assistant Director for Academic Affairs and Diversity Kuheli Dutt who has accepted a position at MIT where she will be leading efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion for MIT’s School of Science, comprised of 6 departments, 5 interdisciplinary programs, and 5 centers. She will be reporting directly to and serving as an advisor to the Dean of the School.  As evidenced by the many emails circulating over the last week, her presence and efforts at Lamont over the last decade have led to innumerable changes that improved work life for so many members of our community.  Kuheli’s work facilitating open discussion of critical issues of diversity, equity, justice, racism, and inequality has been crucial to advancing our campus culture.   Her data-based research has had a global impact in shining a light on inequities in the geosciences and hundreds, if not thousands, of people have benefitted from the seminars and workshops she has led.  Kuheli, you helped set Lamont on a new path and we will not fail to build on the strong foundation you leave behind.  

    And I cannot fail to pass on, from Kuheli, a reminder that this is LGBTQ+ Pride Month.  Please check out the Columbia Resources to Promote LGBTQ+ Inclusion which includes a CU LGBTQ+ Resource Guide, info on how to be a Visible LGBTQ+ Ally, and LGBTQ+ themed Zoom backgrounds. Also check out Upstander and Allyship: Addressing Hate and Violence on June 16th, 2:00-3:00pm. And here is some info on New York City Pride Month Events including the Annual NYC Pride March on June 27th. We hope to be guided and informed by these resources as we make Lamont as inclusive as possible for our LGBTQ+ colleagues.  Note that “You are welcome here” stickers are always available in the Directorate—just email Miriam C. if you want one or some.

    On May 21 Columbia Climate School State of the Planet featured a personal essay titled “Watching My Dad Die With Optimism Changed My Outlook on Climate Change” by CIESIN post-doc Cascade Tuholske.  His article was originally published in Outside magazine.  It came out during my week off but is so moving a tribute that I want to share the link here.

    In State of the Planet, Pod of the Planet Episode 15: “Flying Into the Eye of the Volcano”, Kevin Krajick interviews Einat Lev about her recent trip to visit Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland, along with aerial videos from its eruption.  Closer to home, on June 10 at 4:00 PM, join LIVE K-12 hosted by Cassie Xu and featuring “The Ice That Made Manhattan” with Michael Kaplan, Lamont Research Professor. In this session Mike will talk about “clues that scientists look for, to know that the New York City region was covered by an ice sheet, or the evidence that was left behind across the surrounding area”. Register here.

    At the end of another week filled with meetings concerning Lamont, the Climate School, DEES and everything else, one meeting stood out.  Peter Kelemen and Dave Goldberg were part of an elite group of university researchers briefing the Columbia Climate Board of Advisors, President Bollinger, and other “top brass” on the cutting-edge work being done in the area of decarbonation at LDEO and Columbia University.  The creative and multifaceted approaches being developed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere give me hope that we can bend the curve downwards and start lowering atmospheric CO2 in next decade.  A terrific explanation of the methodology Peter and his colleagues are pioneering can be found in this article in the MIT Technology Review.

    Last but not least, be on the lookout while driving on campus—it’s turtle crossing season at Lamont.  Joaquim Goes spotted this old snapper crossing the road near Marine Biology and Geoscience.

    Have a lovely weekend.   Mo








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