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.

The campus did lose quite a few trees, including the one in front of the Seismology/Marine Biology building, a sentimental favorite. The beauty of this campus is, in part, in its arboretum, with some special specimens dating back to the John Torrey days. With some foresight and funding, we might be able to evaluate the health of campus trees and develop a decent census, the better to protect them against future damage.

In a different context, centralized power backup is much discussed but is not a viable option at present. There are creative ways to think about alternatives, but we would need to develop a different source of capital funding. Again, something to consider as we develop a strategic plan and a campus master plan. One thing Pat O'Reilly is doing: he's re-assessing the building-by-building needs for backup generators so that we can prioritize additional installations over the next few years.

My daughter pointed out that Wednesday was a palindromic date, using either the American date convention (11/2/11) or the computer geek filename list ordering convention (20111102). (I admit that I was more impressed that she still remembered palindromes - we would play around with them when she was in grade school.) In any case, Wednesdays are also the standing date for a weekly Earth Institute Management meeting chaired by Steve Cohen, which Edie Miller, Kathy Callahan, and I (or at least one of us) try to attend. This is a chance for Lamont to exchange information and to access administrative, development and communications resources available to us from Earth Institute headquarters. This has been helpful in the past, and will be helpful heading forward as we seek to minimize administrative costs, increase back-office efficiency and maximize institutional science support.

The Ultra-Clean Lab is undergoing commissioning tests, and its performance is exceeding even optimistic predictions. Time will tell, but we may be able to claim that our UCL is the world's cleanest. We will surely quantify this in the months ahead.

Kathy Callahan is meeting with each of the research division administrators. There are three goals: get a first hand look at division finances, including a separate accounting of promised matching funds and discretionary expenditures; discuss divisional space needs; and get a sense of administrative "style" (for lack of a better word). The purpose is to allow us in the Director's Office to better manage the distribution of centralized discretionary funds among the research divisions, and to improve my response to requests for matching and seed funds. This will be useful as we start to put together the FY 2013 budget over the next few months.

Don't forget about effort reporting.

As you know, we are making considerable institutional investments in biogeoscience and are in negotiations on several new recruitments. Together with the renovations on the second floor of the New Core Lab and plans for the Core Repository being developed by Mo Raymo, these investments will generate space needs in Geoscience and the Marine Bio wing of the Seis/MB building. In the next few weeks, Rosanne D'Arrigo and I will work out an inclusive and participatory process to move all of these developments forward systematically, taking into account immediate office and lab needs, as well as the intermediate and longer-term outlook.

It's a good problem to have.