Lamont Weekly Report, March 12, 2021

Hello Friends,  A lot has been going on over the past two weeks, most obviously the arrival of warm spring weather and uplifted spirits.  This is also the time of year when graduate student admissions are in full swing and the Observatory competes for the best and brightest in the nation.  Last Friday, in my joint lab meeting with Jacky Austermann, we welcomed three prospective students, Emily, Yichen, and Mila.  Jacky had the inspired idea of asking each person in our group to say one thing they liked about Lamont after introducing themselves and their research.  Here is what the grad students, postdocs, and techs said about why they liked Lamont:

  • Bordered by two state parks—so easy to take a hike at lunch.
  • Like having the best of both worlds, living in NYC and taking a shuttle to the middle of nowhere every day.
  • Love the cafeteria food...surprisingly awesome.
  • Intellectual community at Lamont...I have colleagues at other institutions that feel pressured and stressed in their programs.  Lamont is a large community of geoscientists with a huge range of interests, but all of whom want to talk to each other.  Rate of intellectual stimulation is very high.
  • Ultra, super-cool lab facilities—clean labs and facilities like no other I’ve seen.
  • Campus is beautiful escape from city and such a critical mass of people covering breadth and depth of Earth sciences
  • Critical mass at Lamont...I’ve seen big departments vs small departments. 
  • So much sunlight in my office! 
  • I appreciate the welcoming lab group having never been to Lamont (this one is from a first-year person who, due to COVID, has never been here).
  • Lamont’s history of leadership on so many issues of climate and solid Earth.  Lots of women on faculty with families.
  • All the students that come through; hearing about projects; fascinating place and beautiful campus.
  • Research commune like no other with a real friendly, collegial feel to it.
  • I like our lab’s more integrated and collaborative than what I was used to.
  • Inter-connectiveness and fluidity of the community at Lamont...lots of cross-talk and not siloed.

     As you might imagine, and as a Lamont super-fan, I was pretty proud to hear these sentiments expressed.  I share this list in hopes that it might be shared with others thinking about whether or not to come to graduate school at Lamont.  And to those in windowless offices, I’m working on that problem.  Ideally there should be no one at Lamont in a windowless office. 

     I’ve been in other productive meetings this week.  On Wednesday, Gerry Rosberg, Senior Executive Vice President of the University, and David Greenberg, Executive Vice President for University Facilities and Operations, as well as a number of other leaders from main campus, came and toured the Lamont Campus.  We paid particular focus to Lamont Hall and the Oceanography Building as candidates for future renovation to net-zero buildings on an envisioned net-zero campus. Of course, such ambitions require financial planning and for that we are lucky to have a crack team led by Edie Miller.  How crack a team are they, you ask?  Well Edie, Kim Schermerhorn, and myself also had a meeting with Bill Berger, Executive Director of Sponsored Projects Administration at Columbia, and Victoria Hamilton, who directs the Office of Research Initiatives at Columbia, as well as a number of others on Wednesday.  The purpose was to discuss the build-out of a university-wide leadership dashboard.  This would be an online financial tool to help facilitate the kind of strategic planning and tracking we are doing at Lamont and make it available across the university.  #Lamontleads

     Also on Wednesday, the Earth Institute hosted a Town Hall on Combating Anti-Asian Bias. Following an introduction from Alex Halliday, Kuheli Dutt gave a brief, but informative, presentation. The event then opened up to a discussion amongst the participants. I found this discussion to be both moving and enlightening—thank you to my Asian colleagues for sharing their lived experiences. Open dialogue like we witnessed at this event is an important step in fostering an inclusive community.

     And speaking of listening, we hear, hear, hear the calls for daycare to reopen and are working on it.  Please, please, please let Jennifer Lamp or Sheean Haley know if you would have a potential enrollee this coming spring or summer.  This is critical information we need in our discussions with Bright Horizons.  All of Columbia is concerned with the daycare issue and they recently announced the University’s Crisis Care Reimbursement Program, available from March 15 to April 16, 2021. Follow the instructions on the Work/Life Website to register for Crisis Care starting March 15th.  Central administration also reminds us that the regular Back-Up Care program is also available during this time period, if you prefer to use in-network caregivers or child care centers. If you have any questions, please reach out to the Office of Work/Life at

     In other news around the campus…DEES Professor Galen McKinley has just been appointed by the U.S. to sit on the intergovernmental PICES Working Group on Ocean Negative Carbon Emissions. In addition, three outstanding early career scientists accepted Lamont Postdoctoral Fellowships this year.  They are: Brandon Shuck, who will work on new high-resolution R/V Langseth datasets from subduction zones to better understand the factors and mechanisms that underlie subduction zone hazards (in collaboration with Anne Bécel and Suzanne Carbotte); Alireza Bahadori, who will be investigating the link between tectonics, climate, and surface processes in rift settings using numerical models (in collaboration with Jacky Austermann); and Anne Barkley, who will be investigating charcoal deposits in sediment cores in North American temperate/boreal forests and in North Atlantic Ocean marine sediment cores, with the aim of reconstructing long-term fire activity and its impact on marine primary productivity (in collaboration with Gisela Winckler).  I want to thank the fellowship committee one last time for their dedicated efforts to this important task. 

     Marie Tharp is certainly having her moment!  This week the village of Woods Hole in Massachusetts will officially rename one of their streets Marie Tharp Lane.  From Peter “Gone-but-not-forgotten” deMenocal, “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to bring our great institutions together to honor Marie, who contributed so much to our science and public appreciation for the oceans.”

     I’ll wrap up with a lovely update from Steven Jaret, a postdoc at Lamont who, on Tuesday and in conjunction with the NE GSA meeting, co-led a virtual field trip to Central Park. This trip highlighted his new geochemistry results from the park’s famous schist outcrops, a spin-off of work and interest initially begun by Terry Plank and Kennett Flores several years ago. The trip (over Zoom) had 35 people in attendance, including students, faculty, USGS, and state survey mappers from PA, NJ, NY, CT, and MA. They even had one student join in from Costa Rica!  Steve reports the group had a lot of great discussions and says it's nice that NYC geology is gaining interest among folks in the region. A new field guide is also being published and will be out in a larger volume of GSA field guides later this year—however, if you want it now, Steven Jaret can get you an advance copy.  I’m thinking a few fun geochemical facts could be a great way to impress a date on a romantic stroll through the park? #geeklove?

     That’s all I got.  Bring on the weekend and daylight savings.   Spring forward o clock of mine! 

     Best, Mo








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