Lamont Weekly Report, September 30, 2016

     On Sunday, Jeff Weissel relayed the sad news that former Adjunct Senior Research Scientist and long-time Lamont Senior Staff member Bob Stoll passed away on September 17 ( Bob’s primary Columbia University affiliation was as a Professor of Civil Engineering, but he spent a considerable fraction of his time at Lamont, where he worked on acoustic wave propagation in marine sediments, the mechanics of granular media, and the properties of gas hydrates. He was the author of Sediment Acoustics, published by Springer-Verlag in 1989, and an editor of Shear Waves in Marine Sediments, published by Kluwer in 1991. A memorial service for Bob will be held at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow, October 1, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Tenafly, New Jersey, and a reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to the Alzheimer's Association ( in memory of Bob. 

     The passing of a friend and colleague to many was balanced by other campus milestones over the past week. 

     Last Friday, Jiyao Li successfully completed his Ph.D. thesis defense. His thesis, on “Seismicity and seismic imaging of the Alaska megathrust fault,” was supervised by Geoff Abers and Donna Shillington. Other members of his thesis committee were Heather Savage, Spahr Webb, and alumnus Mladen Nedimović from Dalhousie University. Jiyao had accepted a position in March at the Schlumberger-Doll Research Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Donna writes that Jiyao “has done a remarkable job of effectively working two jobs over the last 6 months to finish his thesis. He put together a very nice dissertation and gave a great talk about it on Friday.” Kudos to Dr. Li! 

     Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation announced awards from their Cultivating Cultures for Ethical STEM program, designed to explore and identify factors that are effective in the education of ethical STEM researchers across all fields of science and engineering ( Among the projects receiving awards this year is one at Lamont, led by Bob Newton, Cassie Xu, and Margie Turrin. The three-year project, entitled “Educating young researchers in environmental ethics,” will seek a better understanding of structures and interventions that can facilitate ethical maturity in young investigators. The Secondary School Field Research Program and a network of Outward Bound schools in New York City will serve as the formal and non-formal science learning environments to be studied. 

     The Biology and Paleo Environment Division this week welcomed the arrival of Visiting Senior Research Scientist Reed Scherer. A micropaleontologist and biostratigrapher who works on the history of the Antarctic ice sheets and other studies of climate change, Reed is on sabbatical leave from his position as Board of Trustees Professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at Northern Illinois University ( He will be visiting Lamont for a month and a half to collaborate with Mo Raymo, Sid Hemming, and Robin Bell on research topics in paleoclimatology, oceanography, and geochemistry. Just last week, Reed was lead author of a paper in Nature Communications reporting new models for isostatic uplift and wind transport of unconsolidated marine deposits that link marine diatoms in the Transantarctic Mountains to a substantially diminished East Antarctic Ice Sheet during Pliocene warm periods. 

     On Monday, the 12th Excellence in Mentoring Award Ceremony recognized outstanding mentoring across the Lamont Campus ( This year a total of 60 nominating and seconding letters were submitted in support of 11 nominees, including Laia Andreu-Hayles, Louise Bolge, Arlene Fiore, Jim Gaherty, Steve Goldstein, Andy Juhl, Heather Savage, Jason Smerdon, and Elisabeth Sydor and Xiaoshi Xing from CIESIN. The 12th Excellence in Mentoring Award went to Bob Newton. A Stacy Morford story on Bob and the Secondary School Field Research Program that he directs has been posted on our web site ( Independently, Ameena Peters, an SSFRP alumna, has written movingly about the program’s influence on her educational and career decisions ( Congratulations, Bob! 

     Also on Monday, Lamont hosted a visit by Earth Institute Management Advisory Board member Burt Staniar and several leaders and friends of the New York City Outward Bound Schools, including NYCOBS President and CEO Richard Stopol, NYCOBS Advisory Council member Sanna Thomas, NYCOBS Chief Advancement Officer Paola Vita, and Rick Evans, a former Presiding Partner at Debevois & Plimpton. Joining me for discussions with the visitors were Art Lerner-Lam, Farhana Mather, Bob Newton, and the Earth Institute’s Steve Cohen and Anna Bedsole Jump. In between discussions, the group was given tours of the IcePod lab by Robin Bell, Nick Frearson, and Margie Turrin; the Seismic Sound Lab by Ben Holtzman; the Core Repository by Nichole Anest and Mo Raymo; the microbial oceanography lab of Sonya Dyhrman; and the Tree-Ring Lab by Brendan Buckley. 

     A ClimateWire story tied to the first Arctic Science Ministerial, hosted by the White House Wednesday to bring together the science ministers of 25 nations to discuss Arctic research priorities (, quoted Peter Schlosser on the much more rapid warming that the Arctic is experiencing than the planet as a whole. That same day, Live Science ran an interview with Ben Holtzman on his work with the Seismic Sound Lab and the SeismoDome planetarium show ( 

     Also on Wednesday, barely two days before the absence of an agreement would have triggered a government shutdown, the U.S. Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund government agencies through December 9. Both the House and Senate then promptly recessed ( until after the November elections. 

     On Thursday, I met with the Earth Institute’s Jennifer Genrich, Vilma Gallagher, and Adrienne Kenyon, along with Art Lerner-Lam, Kathy Callahan, Farhana Mather, Stacey Vassallo, and Kim Schermerhorn to hear an update on plans for Lamont’s Open House one week from tomorrow, October 8. Although many traditions from past Open Houses will be continued this year, there will be a new emphasis on Lamont’s strategic initiatives in the lectures and exhibits ( 

     The R/V Langseth came out of dry dock last week at International Ship Repair in Tampa, Florida, and is currently dockside to complete the remaining projects. The ship has been repainted, and inspections have been completed of the propulsion system, all sea valves, and all onboard tanks. A water heater and potable hot water tanks have been replaced. Three new 12 Hz transducers were installed in the Science Pod, as was a transducer for the new bridge speed log. Other maintenance tasks included replacement of sections of flooring throughout the ship, renovation of the ship’s office, cleaning of vents and equipment in the galley, and repairs and replacements to hydraulic systems and engine and compressor room equipment. Sean Higgins writes, “In all, this [work] has entailed a strong group effort led by Marty Klein, new Chief Engineer Jay Butler, Phil Neis, and Paul Ljunggren and support from the OMO office on the coordination of all logistics. [There has also been] great support from Edie Miller and Karen Hoffer to keep money flowing and work going, which is invaluable in maintaining a good working relationship with the yard.” Sea trials and testing are scheduled for this weekend, final inspections are expected next Monday, and the ship is scheduled to depart on Tuesday for her next scientific work off Chile. She will sail with the first new Captain hired for a Lamont ship in more than two decades, John “Brandon” Waldrip, who will join Captain Mark Landow next week on a transit to Panama to become familiarized with the ship. 

     This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by our own Billy D’Andrea. He will be speaking on “Atmospheric CO2 and climate variability during Antarctic deglaciation in the Early Miocene.” I hope to see you there.