Lamont Weekly Report, May 10, 2013


    The week has befitted the season, with deciduous trees freshly leafed and days of warm and sunny skies interspersed with drenching but needed showers.

    Lamont’s spring 2013 newsletter was released early this week and will arrive shortly in the mailboxes of thousands of the Observatory’s alumni and friends. Thanks to the considerable efforts of Rebecca Fowler and colleagues at the Earth Institute, this issue has a new design and is the first to be printed in color. You may obtain a copy through your Division Administrator or browse the online version at

    On Tuesday afternoon, the Earth Institute sponsored the last of the year’s Sustainable Development Seminar series in Lerner Hall. On the theme of “Unconventional hydrocarbon extraction,” the seminar was moderated by Peter Kelemen, included presentations by Geoff Abers and Sally Odland, and drew a large and diverse audience.

    A story by Kevin Krajick on Tuesday describes the journey of the Diebold bench, a memorial to John Diebold ( The red-oak bench was originally installed in Piermont, near the pier where Lamont ships once tied up, but it was washed away by Hurricane Sandy. Through the efforts of Ted Koczynski and others, the bench was located and retrieved, and it currently awaits repair prior to relocation on the Lamont campus. I sailed with John more than three decades ago on the R/V Conrad, and I remember well his easy confidence with all marine operations, his helpful and friendly demeanor, and his sense of humor and broad smile, so I look forward to the bench’s restoration as a well-traveled memorial.

    On Thursday morning, at the meeting of the Council of Deans, the Provost led a discussion on a variety of topics, including the status of ongoing searches for Columbia’s next Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences and the next Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA’s interim dean, Robert Liebermann, has been named Provost at the Johns Hopkins University), faculty diversity initiatives, and recommendations of the Provost’s Working Group on Retirement.

    The Provost reminded those in attendance that proposals to the President’s Global Innovation Fund to provide grants that take advantage of Columbia’s Global Centers for international initiatives in research and education ( are due on 30 May. In his words, “Be sure you don’t leave money on the table.”

    On Thursday afternoon, John Grotzinger delivered the 18th W. S. Jardetzky Lecture. A former postdoctoral research scientist at Lamont (1985-88), John is now the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology at Caltech and Project Scientist for NASA’s Curiosity rover, now exploring the Martian surface. John’s lecture on “Curiosity’s mission at Gale crater, Mars” was well attended.
    Yesterday and today, Lamont’s seismologists are hosting a workshop on seismic attenuation in the mantle. The workshop is sponsored by the Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research, and the attendees include an international group of researchers as well as several from the Lamont community.
    On Thursday evening next week, May Tolstoy will give the fourth and final lecture in Lamont’s Spring Public Lecture series. Her talk, on “Deep sea earthquakes: Science and technology,” will be given at the AppNexus Auditorium in the Flatiron District, as part of Lamont’s efforts to expand our outreach efforts to the New York City community.
    In the meantime, may we all take time this weekend to remember and honor mothers, both our own and the mothers among us.