Lamont Weekly Report, July 22, 2011

Kim Martineau and David Funkhouser, with input from Maya Tolstoy and Jim Gaherty, organized a TV Media training workshop on Tuesday. I wasn't able to attend, but I heard it went well. (I was visiting some of our donors in their Park Avenue offices that morning. It's a parallel universe, but that's a tale for another time.) Given the importance of our science to public discourse and the frequent need to respond to press inquiries, we should be supportive of our media team's efforts to help us deliver our message appropriately, professionally, to various audiences and through traditional and "new media" outlets. Although it takes a lot of effort to organize one of these workshops, I hope we can run them on a regular basis. Many of you are old hands at this, and doing it well. That's appreciated. The critical balance is maintaining our scientific credibility while delivering what the public wants - and needs - to know. We shouldn't be tentative about this; I hope these workshops make it clear that, properly structured, this is a legitimate and necessary component of our institutional mission. Not incidentally, our funding agencies and donors notice our efforts.

We have completed the first full year of our Lamont Research Professor system, and, while there have been a few minor bumps along the way, everything seems to be working smoothly. One of the new features is the so-called "Confirming Review" for new Lamont Assistant Research Professors, prepared and discussed after they've completed their first year in title. It's been fun to do these, because every one of our recently hired colleagues is off to a great start at Lamont. And thanks to those of you who are helping mentor our new research staff; your efforts amplify their successes.

I've asked each of the Associate Directors to work up a preliminary science and hiring plan for their respective divisions. Please assist when asked. The primary reason for doing this is that we need to discuss such matters in the near term with candidates for Lamont director. But we should also consider this to be step one in generating some coherence within the research staff, and between research professors and DEES. Inevitably, this will be high on the priority list for the next director.

This brings me to a director search update. We have spent the last 6 weeks or so contacting candidates on a "longish short list" to assess their interest in the position, and have gotten a very good response. Over the next two months, the search committee will be holding informal and confidential discussions with potential candidates to "kick the tires," so to speak. Those discussions will result in a true short list of candidates who will be invited for more comprehensive interviews. The finalists from that part of the process will be invited to Lamont for more open discussions with various constituencies. If all goes according to plan, the search committee will deliver three names to the Provost by Thanksgiving.

Denny Hayes communicated to me the sad news that Mary Evangeline "Laney" Kohler, Henry Kohler's wife, passed away on July 14. (Henry, perhaps the most famous of our ship captains, died in 1997.) Here are Denny's words:

"Laney sailed with the VEMA on a number of cruises between 1960 and 1980.  She was always greeted enthusiastically by the ships crew. Her presence brought a little more levity and a little more empathy for life on the "VEMA". Somehow the good captain Henry was always a bit mellower when she was around. (There's quite a bit more about Laney's positive influence while on the ship that could be added.)"

Laney was interviewed for our oral history project in 1996. Her obituary can be found here:

and a link to the interview can be found here: