Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, July 15, 2016

     To those of us striving to improve the stewardship of our planet, the savage acts that lately fill world news reports are deeply disturbing. The tragedies in Dallas and Nice remind us that our species, for all its accomplishments, can commit natural disasters every bit as devastating as those we study in Lamont’s laboratories. We can hope that progress on understanding and mitigating the worst aspects of human behavior will proceed apace with progress on understanding and mitigating the changes to our planet that humans collectively have set in motion.

Lamont Weekly Report, July 1, 2016

     This week included the end of an academic and university fiscal year on Thursday, and the beginning of a new year today. A flurry of personnel and budget activities marked the lead-up to the change in the calendar. 

     Noteworthy among them are three promotions on the Lamont research faculty, all effective today. Natalie Boelman and Michael Previdi have been promoted to Lamont Associate Professor, Senior Staff, and Jonathan Nichols has been promoted to Lamont Associate Professor, Junior Staff. To Natalie, Michael, and Jonathan, congratulations! 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 17, 2016

     The Earth and Planetary science community mourned the death this week of Jerry Wasserburg, isotope geochemist and cosmochemist, Crafoord Laureate, and long-time member of the faculty at Caltech. Jerry’s laboratory largely defined the history of the Moon and established the timescale between nucleosynthesis and solar system formation.

Lamont Weekly Report, May 27, 2016

     A second week in a row began with sad news for the extended Lamont family, with a belated report that Columbia and Lamont alumnus Charles Officer, Jr., had passed away last month (http://www.vnews.com/Obituaries/Charles-Officer-Obituary-Hanover-NH-1518946). A theoretical geophysicist with broad interests, Chuck was well known as the author of several textbooks and a number of popular books in Earth science. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 20, 2016

     The week began sadly for the extended Lamont family with the news that one of our most distinguished members, John Imbrie, passed away last Friday. Considered one of the founders of modern paleoceanography, John taught at Columbia's Department of Geological Sciences (now the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences) from 1952 to 1967 and served as department chair. The recipient of many awards and honors, John shared the 1996 Vetlesen Prize.

Lamont Weekly Report, April 29, 2016

    It is worth a few moments to celebrate the birthday today of chemist Harold Urey, whose discovery of deuterium in 1932 while on the Columbia faculty was recognized with a Nobel Prize two years later. Following his work on the Manhattan Project, Urey made seminal contributions that helped to establish the fields of cosmochemistry, planetary science, and what is now called astrobiology. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 15, 2016

    

Today’s date makes me think of income taxes. This year, as with the past several, the hectic spring schedule forces me to throw up my hands and file for extensions on federal and state taxes so I can finish gathering the needed information over the summer. 

The spring schedule, of course, sometimes brings good news. This week, Peter Schlosser learned that he has been elected to membership in the German National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1652, the organization is the oldest continuously operating scientific academy in the world. Congratulations, Peter! 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 8, 2016

     Late last week, the Observatory was saddened by the news that a member of the Lamont extended family had passed away. Michael Vitelli, who worked as a Systems Analyst for Columbia University for nearly 10 years, first on the Morningside Campus and then at Lamont, died at the age of 52 on March 30 in Nyack after a long illness (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/lohud/obituary.aspx?n=michael-j-vitelli&pid=179474380&fhid=14974).

Lamont Weekly Report, March 25, 2016

     Margie Turrin learned last week that she is to receive this year’s Distinguished Service Award from the Rockland County Municipal Planning Federation. Margie was recognized for her leadership of the Rockland Planning Land Use for Students (RPLUS) program (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/edu/plus/). A milestone event for the program was a symposium last Friday, held at SUNY Rockland Community College, at which the RPLUS students presented their community project to mentors from the county. Congratulations, Margie!

Lamont Weekly Report, March 11, 2016

     The week we were reminded that Earth shares the solar system with other objects. The Moon passed between the Sun and Earth on Tuesday night (our time) and produced a solar eclipse visible in its totality from Indonesia. And one day earlier, asteroid 2013 TX68 – 20 to 50 m across – passed within about 4 million kilometers of Earth (http://earthsky.org/space/asteroid-2013-tx68-uncertain-trajectory-closest-earth-mar-5-2016), about 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

Lamont Weekly Report, March 4, 2016

    Arriving at Lamont this week was Jonathan Kingslake, a new Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Jonny received his Ph.D. in glaciology in 2013 from the University of Sheffield, where he studied subglacial water flow and outburst floods with Felix Ng and Grant Bigg. As a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey between then and now, he led field expeditions to West Antarctica to document annual changes in ice sheet structure and longer-term ice flow patterns with phase-sensitive radar measurements.

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