Lamont Weekly Report, March 15, 2019

    For another week, the fourth in a row, the extended Lamont family lost one its members. Herman Galberd, Manager of Administrative Services at Lamont from 1979 until his retirement in 1994, passed away on Sunday. Herman joined Columbia University’s Electronics Research Lab in 1956, and from 1962 to 1979 he was Director of Research Services in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, so he worked for Columbia for a total of 38 years. Some of Herman’s other milestones and interests can be found in the obituary prepared by his family (

    Arnold Gordon wrote, “ I remember Herman's easygoing manner, his sense of humor, and his dedication to Lamont. Following in the tradition of Arnold Finck, Lamont's first business administrator, Herman bonded together the personnel in our administrative and research units.”

    Mark Cane added an illustrative recollection: “My favorite Herman story involves Eli Katz. (It helps if you knew Eli.) Eli sent a note in his typically impolitic style to Herman complaining about something. Herman sent it back with a message scrawled at the bottom: ‘Dear Eli, I thought you would like to know some crazy person is signing your name to things.’”

    And for a fourth week, while some of us paused to remember a colleague, there were signs of progress on other activities across the Observatory.

    Last Friday, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Elizabeth Case posted an article about gender equity in polar science on the blog of the Cryospheric Sciences Division of the European Geosciences Union ( Coauthored with graduate students Violaine Coulon from the Université libre de Bruxelles and Florence Isaacs from Victoria University, Wellington, Elizabeth’s article documents the gender balance in the field as a function of cohort age; describes historical obstacles to women in cryospheric science, particularly barriers to fieldwork; and offers suggestions for how each of us can encourage and support women scientists in the discipline.

    Another nod to International Women’s Day last Friday was a Sarah Fecht interview with Lauren Moseley, who serves on the Board of Women in Science at Columbia and is committed to enhancing diversity in STEM fields at the university ( Interview questions ranged from Lauren’s research area, to the goals of WISC, to steps each of us can take to support our women colleagues. I particularly applaud Lauren’s argument that the spirit of inclusiveness displayed on International Women’s Day should be sustained every day of the year.

    On Saturday, the Board of Trustees of Barnard College held a daylong “retreat” in the Comer Seminar Room. During an hour that the Board devoted to hearing about and touring Lamont, organized by Martin Stute, Board members viewed two geochemistry labs in Comer, were treated to a tour of the Polar Geophysics Lab by Robin Bell, and were introduced to the Lamont Core Repository by Barnard alumna Clara Chang. Phil Fitzpatrick and Marian Mellin provided logistical support for the meeting, and Meghan Fay joined me in accompanying the tour group.

    On Monday, Lamont’s Advisory Board held a half-day meeting in New York City. After meetings of the Board’s Education and Marketing Committees, the full Board heard a summary of recent activities at the Observatory from me and a report on development progress from Meghan. The core of the meeting was an update on Lamont’s initiative on Changing Ice, Changing Coastlines, with Jacky Austermann, Robin Bell, Miranda Cashman, Chloe Gustafson, Joerg Schaefer, Marco Tedesco, and Gisela Winckler serving as presenters or participants. Others attending from Lamont included Marie Aronsohn, Noelle Bannister, Nicole deRoberts, John Halpin, Susan Holgate, Art Lerner-Lam, Marian Mellin, Pablo Pedraza, Margie Turrin, Stacey Vassallo, and Cassie Xu. The meeting ended with a reception at which Board members could mingle with the faculty and students.

    Also on Monday, the White House released the President’s budget for government fiscal year 2020. The budget increases spending for the Department of Defense but reduces spending for nondefense programs by an average of 11% from this year’s budget. Federal science agency budgets received varying reductions, with the National Science Foundation budget down by 12%, that for the National Institutes of Health down by 15%, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science down by 17%. Congress has not followed the directives of the President’s budget for either of the past two annual budget cycles, but next fiscal year will be complicated by statutory spending caps in the Budget Control Act of 2011 that will come into force without new legislation, as well as by the impending Presidential election.

    On Wednesday, as part of Harassment Awareness Month at Lamont, Joli Ienuso, Prevention Coordinator for Columbia University’s Sexual Violence Response Team, led a training session on Bystander Intervention to a full audience in the Comer Seminar Room. Joli is also Co-Chair of the Manhattan Sexual Assault Task Force Campus Subcommittee.

    On Wednesday, Sonya Dyhrman and Maya Tolstoy were the featured presenters at the fourth Earth Series event hosted by the Earth Institute and held on the Upper East Side. Under the theme “Ocean exploration: A dive into Earth’s final frontier,” Sonya spoke about her work in microbial oceanography, Maya talked about her experience studying mid-ocean ridge systems, and Alex Halliday served as moderator. Those from Lamont who joined me in the audience included Peter de Menocal and Spahr Webb; Lamont Advisory Board members Dennis Adler, Dan Bennett, Walter Brown, and Wendy David; former Board member Chuck Callan; and Meghan Fay and most of her development team.

    News stories this week included a Gothamist article Monday on Marco Tedesco’s citizen science X-Snow Project to enlist high school students and other local residents to document snowflake shapes as one measure of changing winter climate characteristics in the region ( This week’s “Earth Matters” column in Nyack News & Views was guest written by Andrew Goodwillie on the topic of renewable energy in the local area ( A Marie Aronsohn story posted to our web site Tuesday ( dealt with climate reporters who specialize in stories on climate change, including Janet Babin – who has accompanied Nicolás Young and colleagues on fieldwork in Greenland – and John Wendle – who has joined Billy D’Andrea and others during fieldwork on Svalbard.

    Yesterday, Hari Sreenivasan, the anchor of PBS NewsHour Weekend, brought a production crew to interview Mo Raymo in the Lamont Core Repository. The interview, which focused on Mo’s research and the work of the repository, is scheduled to air on WNET this Sunday evening at 6 and again at 6:30 pm. I hope that you will set your DVRs accordingly.

    Today’s Earth Science Colloquium will be Lamont’s Annual Diversity Seminar and will be given by Erika Marin-Spiotta, an Associate Professor of Geography and an affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies; the Departments of Soil Science and Forest and Wildlife Ecology; and the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison ( Erika’s seminar will be on the topic of “Building partnerships to transform workplace climate in geoscience.” May you leave your geoscience workplace in time to partner with me in building her audience.