Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, December 16, 2011

It was great to see so many friends and family at the Lamont holiday reception Wednesday afternoon. Many thanks to Miriam Cinquegrana and Bev Wuerfel for organizing the festivities. I promise we'll order more crackers next time.

I kept various meetings and appointments regarding Lamont space and communications, agency relationships, and a few other matters. We're in serious planning mode for space in several of our buildings, including planning for labs in support of several of our biogeoscience recruiting opportunities. We'll convene a group to discuss the programming for biogeo labs after the first of the new year...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 9, 2011

AGU week was the usual flurry of sessions, town halls and committee meetings, with a few social gatherings thrown in. Of course, the best of these, from my unbiased perspective, was the Lamont reception on Tuesday evening. The crowd was large, loud, and loquacious. Mia Leo and her husband, Dick, were there, receiving toasts and congratulations, washed
down with warm memories. Many thanks go to Stacey Vassallo and Erika Freimuth for keeping this great tradition in top form...

Lamont Weekly Report, December 2, 2011

A pre-AGU week of almost daily highlights:

Monday: Mia Leo's retirement celebration was a wonderful testament to all she has done for our students, not to mention all she has done for DEES and Lamont. Among the standouts: the ecclesiastically subtle hymn to her; the doo-wop performance by the Chairs, complete with funky variable time signature; the Folksmen-style hootenanny, enhanced by a
QMDA-flavored percussion section; and, of course, "Mamma Mia," which improved on the original lyrics of possibly the most overrated bubblegum pop band on the planet...

Lamont Weekly Report, November 23, 2011

Pratigya Polissar has taken over the chairmanship of the LDEO Campus Life Committee from Jason Smerdon. Thanks to Jason for doing a great job, and thanks to Pratigya for taking this on. The Campus Life Committee is the most effective way for the broader Lamont community to express its opinions about our working environment and make suggestions
for improvements. The Chair of the committee meets with the Executive Committee several times each year to provide updates and generate action as needed...

Lamont Weekly Report, November 18, 2011

I'm pleased to introduce Emily Soergel, who is joining us in the Director's Office as a Program Analyst.  Emily holds an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from SIPA, and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Florida. She will assist us in our long-term financial and programmatic planning. Emily's position is supported with funds from the Earth Institute.

The federal government has been on continuing resolutions since the start of the federal fiscal year FY12 on 1 October, with funding for the science agencies frozen close to FY11 levels...

Lamont Weekly Report, November 14, 2011

Today, November 11, is a palindrome in some formats. Moreover, it's the
last 'binary' date of the century (111111). The next binary date is
January 1, 2101 (010101). See you then.

Today is also Veterans Day. Many members of the Lamont community have served in the armed forces, or have family members who have served or are currently in uniform. This is a day to pay tribute to their contributions, their service and their sacrifices...

Lamont Weekly Report, November 4, 2011

Voila. The lights are on.

After nearly a week, power to Lamont appears to be fully restored. Dick Greco's crew has been on campus continuously since the beginning of Saturday's storm, keeping track of the backup generators, cleaning up debris, and saving trees where they could. The latest hiccup Thursday afternoon - a dangerous one - was a downed 13 kilovolt feed, which
brought O&R hardhats to the campus. One of them, a 41-yr O&R employee, knew Dick (who has been here for 44 years); it's probably that sort of relationship - among the many that Dick has nurtured over the years - that got us up and running ahead of other O&R customers...

Lamont Weekly Report, October 28, 2011

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, to which we belong, held its semi-annual meeting in DC this week. Dave Goldberg and I also attended a meeting of the Scientific Ocean Drilling Subcommittee of the Ocean Leadership Board. These were useful and informative meetings, highlighted by a series of presentations by Ocean Leadership and NSF senior management on the state of the federal science budgets and the impacts on ocean science research and facilities. A few tidbits: we are more confident about the support for ocean drilling within NSF, though the National Science Board still has to weigh in; NSF's Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction (MREFC) account, which supports the construction phase of the Ocean Observatories Initiative, is stressed; infrastructure support costs covered by OCE (ships and other facility operations and maintenance costs) are increasing relative to top-line OCE funding; and NSF as a whole is developing more directed science initiatives, such as Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES)...

Lamont Weekly Report, October 14, 2011

Walter Brown, a member of our advisory board and a longtime friend and supporter of Lamont, was the recipient this week of the National Maritime Historical Society's David A. O'Neil Sheet Anchor Award. He was honored Wednesday evening at a gala dinner at the NY Yacht Club in midtown. Chuck Callan, another member of our board, together with the
Purdys, the Ryans, and a few other Lamonters, were able to celebrate with Walter. Not being a sailor, I had to look up the definition of "sheet anchor." It definitely fits Walter's character. Congratulations, Walter!...

Lamont Weekly Report, October 7, 2011

Open House 2011 garnered 3098 visitors by official count, 7 less than last year. That's a very good number, considering the threatening skies and our hiatus two years ago. The lectures were packed, kids were engaged, and there were huge numbers of Morningside students in attendance. Altogether, it was a great day, with the staff barbecue providing the right finishing touch. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone, including Exxon/Mobil Community Relations, the Earth Institute
and a number of private donors for their financial support. Does anyone know the names of the 7 who wimped out?...

Lamont Weekly Report, September 30, 2011

Once each year, the USS Constitution, the world's oldest, floating, commissioned warship in the US Navy, is towed from her dock in Boston Harbor and then berthed in the opposite direction to ensure that she weathers evenly. Once each year, the LDEO Borehole Logging Truck is brought out for Open House demonstrations, and afterwards returned to its parking spot. It has weathered quite evenly, thank you very much...

Lamont Weekly Report, September 23, 2011

The equinox has passed, fall has fallen, and Open House 2011 (October 1) is around the corner. The tents will go up next week. Buildings and Grounds, Security, the Development Office, the External Relations Team, and, to be sure, most of the science staff and students, are all busy with preparations. Some of our alumni will be returning to campus and, as usual, there will be a few VIPs floating around. Most importantly, Marc Speigelman will be doing his Sid Viscous act on a tub of

Lamont Weekly Report, September 9, 2011

The Scholarly Communications Program of Columbia Libraries/Information Services has been organizing a seminar series entitled “Research without Borders.” Kerstin Lehnert , Director of the Integrated Earth Data Applications facility at Lamont and an authority on geoinformatics, will be speaking at an upcoming program on Tuesday, September 27th, at noon in the Faculty House. From the event description:

Data Management and Federal Funding: What Researchers Need to Know...

Lamont Weekly Report, September 2 2011

I hope you've been able to dry out since last weekend. Irene cut quite a swath. The city seemed to survive; I live in a high-rise in "Zone B" on the West Side and was watching the storm surge lap up and over the aprons of some of the piers on Sunday morning. By that afternoon, the wind was coming in from the west. Things seemed calm, so I opened a west-facing casement window to get some air. Dumb move: my windows open inward and sure enough every loose thing in my living room got blown away. I had to put on sneakers in order to get enough grip on the floor to push the window closed. Still, I was lucky; I know some of you lost power or were flooded or were stranded somewhere. I'm just glad none of you were hurt.

Lamont Weekly Report, August 26 2011

On Tuesday, around 13:56, while I was sitting in Hogan Hall going over our upcoming NSF meeting about the Langseth, my daughter tweeted that she had just felt an earthquake. The Virginia earthquake occurred at around 13:51. It takes about a minute for the P-wave to reach the NYC metro area, and about another minute for a large waveset (a kind of surface wave) to hit, which is presumably what she felt. So now I know that my daughter's telecom latency is about 3 minutes. This is a very useful number.

Lamont Weekly Report, August 19 2011

A few Lamont proposals over the past several months have required some extra steps because they involved research on human subjects and required a signoff on research protocols. Legal protections of human subjects, in any country, are rigorous, and apply to a wide range of potential research. Columbia maintains an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which is charged with the review and approval of protocols. There is a web site ( with FAQs and other guidance. In addition, Bev is organizing an information session with representatives of the IRB, to be held soon after the start of the fall semester. Point of clarification: Lamont Research Professors do not need waivers to request IRB approval. Make sure your title is entered correctly when you make the application...