Lamont Weekly Report, January 27, 2017

       On Tuesday morning, with a half-page spread in The New York Times, Columbia University and the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation announced that Mark Cane and Princeton University’s George Philander are to share the 2017 Vetlesen Prize for their work on the tropical atmosphere-ocean system that led to an understanding of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and its global impacts. A press release by Kevin Krajick on their work and its importance and a video interview of the laureates were posted that day on the Lamont web site ( A link to that story is still featured today on Columbia University’s home page ( The prize will be given at a ceremony and dinner to be held in the Low Library rotunda in April. In the meantime, please join me in congratulating Mark and George for this well-deserved honor!

     Late last week, the American Geophysical Union announced the winners of Outstanding Student Paper Awards given for presentations at the 2016 Fall Meeting last month in San Francisco ( I am pleased to report that DEES and Lamont graduate students Julius Busecke, Helen Janiszewski, Xiaomeng Jin, Kira Olsen, Daniel Rasmussen, and Maayan Yehudai and DEES senior Tianjia (Tina) Liu all received awards this year. Congratulations to all!

     On Tuesday evening, I attended a cocktail reception at the home of Earth Institute Management Advisory Board member Burt Staniar and his wife, Nancy, held to raise the visibility of Lamont and particularly the Center for Climate and Life. Peter deMenocal was the featured speaker at the event, also attended by Farhana Mather and the Earth Institute’s Steve Cohen and Anna Bedsole Jump.

     On Wednesday, Eos published a lengthy article on gender bias in the Earth sciences ( Among other topics, the article described the study published by Kuheli Dutt and colleagues last year on gender bias in recommendation letters written in support of applications for Postdoctoral Fellowships at Lamont, and it featured a photo and quotes from former Lamont Postdoctoral Scientist Heather Ford, now at Cambridge University.

     In a newsletter of monthly highlights for January distributed by Columbia University’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, the lead story was a link to Kevin Krajick’s news release last month describing the report in Nature by Joerg Schaefer, Bob Finkel, Nicolás Young, Roseanne Schwartz, and their colleagues of evidence from cosmogenic nuclides in bedrock samples from the bottom of the GISP2 ice core in central Greenland that that landmass was essentially ice free for extended portions of the Pleistocene Epoch, from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago. An earlier posting by Columbia News includes a video interview with Joerg (

     On Monday afternoon next week, the Observatory will host a campus Town Hall to discuss possible federal policy changes under the Trump administration, changes in leadership in Congress, and implications for federal science agency budgets, immigration and workplace equity issues, and related topics. We will be joined by Mike Purdy, who will speak to the view of Columbia University’s senior administrators; Joel Widder from Federal Science Partners, Columbia University’s Washington lobbyists, who will discuss the status of federal science budgetary, workforce, and policy issues; Robin Bell and Adam Sobel, who will summarize the actions to date and plans of the American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society, respectively; and Farhana Mather, who will summarize recent changes to the private and foundation fundraising landscape, including Columbia University’s capital campaign. The Town Hall, to begin at 1 pm in Monell Auditorium, is open to all.

     Meanwhile, the Earth Science Colloquium kicks off its spring season this afternoon. Today’s speaker will be volcanologist and former Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow Esteban Gazel, now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University ( Esteban will be speaking on “Life cycles of mantle plumes.” I hope that the life cycle of your day will permit you to join me in the audience for the talk.