Lamont Weekly Report, August 10, 2012

One of the small pleasures from my early scientific career was the episodic arrival, by regular mail, of a postcard-sized list of the most recent publications by scientists at Lamont. Each publication carried a number, and if I circled the numbers of the papers with titles I found interesting and returned the card to the Lamont librarian, a package of reprints of those papers would arrive a few weeks later. The lists constituted a handy record of all Lamont publications, and for those of us at other institutions the reprint mailing service provided a welcome shortcut to the common practice of mailing reprint requests (also typically post cards) to individual lead authors.

Nowadays our staff members order paper reprints of their publications about as often as they make their telephone calls on a rotary dial. Nonetheless, the central tracking of all publications by Lamont scientific staff is as important as it was in that era. Timely notice of an imminent publication permits our news writers to prepare a release to the media, scheduled to coincide with the paper’s publication date, announcing that Lamont has gained important new information on the workings of our planet. Annual numbers of Lamont publications are tracked by the Earth Institute and no doubt others at Columbia. Moreover, complete lists of our publications, with links to electronic reprints when permitted by publisher policies and if updated on a regular basis and readily locatable on the Lamont website, can serve as a resource to our scientific colleagues and those seeking more information on stories in the scientific news.

There is a simple procedure in place by which the Lamont Directorate tracks Observatory papers, and I am told that it is followed by many of you. As soon as a paper of yours is accepted for publication, please notify Beverly Wuerfel, send her a copy of your paper, and give her an estimate of its publication date. Bev will notify Kim Martineau and Kevin Krajick, who will assess the paper’s potential as a news story and work with you to craft a release. Once the paper is published, an entry will be added to the publications page on Lamont’s website. In the longer term, we plan a fresh look at those publications pages as part of a larger examination of the reach and effectiveness of the Observatory’s overall efforts in communications.

Yesterday, the United Nations announced the formation of a Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tapped Jeff Sachs to lead the effort. The Earth Institute will serve as secretariat for the network. A copy of yesterday’s press release by the UN ( provides a few more details. I look forward to learning more about the initiative and opportunities for contributions from Lamont scientists at an Earth Institute Directorate meeting next week.

An important event in the coming week is the celebration of Kim Kastens and her 31 years of contributions to Lamont’s programs in marine geology, geoscience learning and education, science journalism, and gender equity. As of early next month, Kim will be a Distinguished Scholar and Principal Scientist at the headquarters of the Education Development Center outside of Boston. The celebration will be held next Friday, at 3:30 pm in the Lower Lobby of Monell, and all on campus that day are encouraged to attend and wish Kim well on the next leg of her career journey.

For most of this past week, I have been away from the Lamont campus. From Tuesday to Thursday I chaired a meeting of the MESSENGER Science Team held in Salem, Massachusetts. On Monday, a grandson of mine arrived in this world only a few towns away (Winchester, Massachusetts). The dates and venue of the Science Team meeting were set more than a year earlier, but I was unable to convince many of my MESSENGER colleagues that I had not arranged the meeting dates and location so as to meet my new grandson. Sometimes long-laid plans just have happy consequences.