Lamont Weekly Report, September 30, 2011

Once each year, the USS Constitution, the world's oldest, floating, commissioned warship in the US Navy, is towed from her dock in Boston Harbor and then berthed in the opposite direction to ensure that she weathers evenly. Once each year, the LDEO Borehole Logging Truck is brought out for Open House demonstrations, and afterwards returned to its parking spot. It has weathered quite evenly, thank you very much. In any event, the truck's appearance is a sure sign that Open House is around the corner. Stacey Vassallo, Dick Greco and their teams have been working overtime making sure everything will be in place for another great day. The weather forecast is mixed, so a bit of collective optimism is in order. Please remember to park in the Geoscience and Comer lots if you arrive after 9:30 or must leave during the day.
Otherwise, volunteers can park in the Oceanography lot. For those coming from Morningside, bus schedules are posted on our Open House web site. And don't forget the end-of-the-day Rose Garden party and terminal BBQ.

Next Friday, October 7, the NY Marine Science Consortium, of which Lamont is a member, will hold its annual meeting in Monell. More information is available at: and a list of talks and posters is at:

Wade McGillis has been our representative.

EVPR Mike Purdy and Dean of Science Amber Miller are organizing a series of "Science Socials" to facilitate interactions among the University's science and engineering departments and institutes, including Lamont. The first one of these will be held next Tuesday, October 4, from 5 - 7 PM at Faculty House. This is an important opportunity for us to develop deeper relationships with our colleagues on the Morningside campus. Please respond to
if you plan to attend.

This is welcome news: NSF has announced a major initiative for early-career scientists seeking to balance their family obligations with the demands of a scientific career. Briefly, NSF will make it possible to structure awards to accommodate individual family responsibilities, including supplemental funding where necessary to continue laboratory operations during family leave. More information, including rationale and a preliminary description of the initiative, is at this site: .  Quoting from the summary:

'NSF has launched targeted workplace flexibility efforts in the past, but the new initiative is the first to be applied Foundation-wide to help postdoctoral fellows and early-career faculty members more easily care for dependents while continuing their careers. The new initiative will offer a coherent and consistent set of family-friendly policies and
practices to help eliminate some of the barriers to women's advancement and retention in STEM careers. It will:

-       Allow postponement of grants for child birth/adoption - Grant recipients can defer their awards for up to one year to care for their newborn or newly adopted children.

-       Allow grant suspension for parental leave - Grant recipients who wish to suspend their grants to take parental leave can extend those grants by a comparable duration at no cost.

-       Provide supplements to cover research technicians - Principal investigators can apply for stipends to pay research
technicians or equivalent staff to maintain labs while PIs are on family leave.

-       Publicize the availability of family friendly opportunities - NSF will issue announcements and revise current program solicitations to expressly promote these opportunities to eligible awardees.

-       Promote family friendliness for panel reviewers - STEM researchers who review the grant proposals of their peers will have greater opportunities to conduct virtual reviews rather than travel to a central location, increasing flexibility and reducing dependent-care needs.

-       Support research and evaluation - NSF will continue to encourage the submission of proposals for research that would asses the effectiveness of policies aimed at keeping women in the STEM pipeline.

-       Leverage and Expand Partnerships -- NSF will leverage existing relationships with academic institutions to encourage the extension of the tenure clock and allow for dual hiring opportunities.'

Note also that Lamont and Columbia have some policies in place to promote family-career balance. The web page for Lamont's Office of Academic Affairs and Diversity is a good place to start.

Director Search Update: Jeff Sachs and I met with Interim Provost Coatsworth this week to brief him on Lamont and the search. It was a good meeting, and I have absolutely no reservations about Low Library's support for our process. Director candidates will be visiting Lamont on October 11th, October 13th, October 31st, and one or more dates to be
scheduled in early November. The search committee is organizing a series of open meetings with the candidates and other opportunities for discussion and feedback. I will be sending out several notices within the next 10 days describing these meetings, and identifying the candidates. The scheduling for these visits has been especially complex, so please bear with us as we enter the final stages of the search.

I'm sure most of you are following the budget discussions in Washington. If you choose to do so, our various professional
organizations offer opportunities for your voice to be heard, ranging from Congressional staff visits to letters to your representatives. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the American Geological Institute and the AGU Science Policy web site all provide useful information. As usual, please let me know if you are planning a government visit or are invited to testify to federal, state or local political institutions.

EarthCube, an important NSF Cyberinfrastructure initiative, has issued a new guidance document, available here:

Finally, something to fuel my flux capacitor: I'm writing this report on Saturday morning before Open House gets underway and am relying on those superfast neutrinos from CERN to get this report delivered by Friday afternoon. I'll know if it works before I actually write this. Is this a solution to proposal deadlines?