Lamont Weekly Report, February 13, 2009

The Federal stimulus package that the Senate-House Conference Committee has agreed to contains a total of $3.5B for NSF, including $2.5B for research and Related Activities (i.e. the Research Directorates), $300M for Major Research Infrastructure and $400M for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction. NSF has to spend this in 120 days (I think that's right) so I expect it will go to programs for which they already have fully reviewed proposals.  It will have long term impact over the next 2-3 years as it will relieve pressure on programs - allowing managers to fund the backlog of
activities that have been held back for lack of funding.  This is really important and very very good news for us all!

The House passed this earlier today - the Senate may vote as early as this evening.  It is almost too good to be true!

So this was a very good week to receive a visit from Tim Killeen, the Assistant Director for the Geosciences at NSF - he had an excellent visit on Wednesday, and I believe went away impressed. Interestingly, he had never before visited Lamont.

Dave Goldberg and I went down to DC last Sunday - primarily for discussions on Monday with the leadership of the Alliance that leads the US component of the Ocean Drilling Program.  For the first time in many months there was great optimism associated with these conversations because the JOIDES Resolution is out of the shipyard in Singapore and underway across the Pacific, a few days away from the start of test drilling operations.  We also visited NSF to talk about
support for the Langseth beyond 2009 - now that the stimulus package is a reality we hope that we can continue to receive strong support for our seismic operations.

In case anyone ever wonders, there is no sense or logic associated with what gets included in this weekly report, and what does not.  It gets written usually in 25 minutes most often after the colloquium when I am in town on a Friday afternoon. So if I forget to mention things of importance, folks should not be offended - it is just that I am thinking of the Rolling Rock waiting for me at TG instead of recalling a balanced view of the weeks events.

But one thing I must not forget to recognize this week is the accomplishment of DEES grad student Janelle Homburg who has won the
Outstanding Student Paper Award for the 2008 Fall AGU for a poster that contains within its title, the phrase "The jelly sandwich bites back."  Janelle - this is a real accomplishment - many congratulations. (And I am talking about the award and the much- deserved recognition - not the catchy title!)

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and NSF is going to get an extra $3.5B - what's not to smile about?

Have a great weekend,

- Mike