Lamont Weekly Report, September 9, 2011

The Scholarly Communications Program of Columbia Libraries/Information Services has been organizing a seminar series entitled “Research without Borders.” Kerstin Lehnert , Director of the Integrated Earth Data Applications facility at Lamont and an authority on geoinformatics, will be speaking at an upcoming program on Tuesday, September 27th, at noon in the Faculty House. From the event description:

Data Management and Federal Funding: What Researchers Need to Know
New requirements from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal agencies have brought data management and sharing into the spotlight. This trend will continue as more research sponsors, and the general public, demand increased access to federally-funded research data. This event will examine the goals of these requirements and explore the technical, scientific, and professional challenges resulting from efforts to preserve and share data.
More info at this link (note RSVP by September 16th):
Barb Charbonnet and I had a productive meeting on Wednesday with Quentin Kennedy, the retiring chair of our advisory board, and Frank Gumper, now vice chair and the incoming chair, to go over the agenda for next Wednesday’s board meeting. The board, under Quentin’s leadership, has been a consistent source of both support and wisdom, and that will certainly continue with Frank’s firm hand on the tiller. It has been our practice at these meetings to keep the board apprised of the latest research with presentations from our scientific staff; these have been a consistent highlight of the meetings. Nick Frearson and Mo Raymo are doing the honors this time around.
The start of the term also means back to the business side of life at Lamont, which in turn means a bunch of meetings in Low and DC. There’s nothing short-term to report just now; I’ll take up space in later reports with some longer-term items.
I was in DC on September 11, 2001, in a meeting in the AAAS building. One gets attuned to sirens in New York, so I didn’t think much about the commotion just outside our 2nd floor window around 9AM. A little later, a colleague came in and told us the Pentagon had been hit and one of the WTC towers had collapsed. We moved to the main auditorium where AAAS staff had set up a feed from CNN, and we stood at the back watching as the second tower collapsed. I was able to get back to NY on a Metroliner the next day. The train was packed, but utterly quiet. You can see the Lower Manhattan skyline as the train passes through Elizabeth, Newark and the Meadowlands; all I remember from that trip is the smoke and silence.
The next day I learned that Weibin Wang, a DEES Ph.D. who had studied with Chris Scholz, had been at work at Cantor Fitzgerald. Top floors, Tower 1. He left behind his wife, Wen Shi, and three children. Weibin was one of several DEES students from that era who found terrific jobs in quantitative financial modeling and econometrics. I remember feeling, at his thesis defense, that this was exactly what good science training is supposed to do: open doors to a dream and provide the basis of a fulfilling life. The Times had a paragraph on Weibin, and his name is on the wall at the memorial.
The Columbia community was among those deeply affected that day. Most everyone we talked to suffered a loss, or was just one degree removed from someone who had lost a spouse, a child, a friend. This weekend will be a weekend of remembrances. The University activities are listed at this link:
The American Institute of Physics has distributed a link to a speech made by Rita Colwell, then the director of NSF, soon after September 11th. It’s as relevant today as it was then.