Lamont Weekly Report, March 26, 2021

     Hello Friends,  It has been a quiet week.  A week to ponder what the near future will hold.  An easing of pandemic pressures?  Enhanced stress with a new virus variant?  Of course, relief that appointments for vaccines are becoming increasingly easy to schedule.  In the Dean’s Council meeting yesterday, we were told that discussions are being had and guidance will soon be forthcoming on issues ranging from summer travel policies, visitor policies, return to work policies, small gathering policies, vaccine policies and more.  How do we all come back together safely and create the synergistic and collaborative community of scholars and staff we all value and miss? 

     Report from the campus—it still feels deserted.  I sense Comer is the only building that is the least bit crowded (and many of those people are construction workers).  Here in Monell, it is typically just myself, Max (of course), and another colleague at the far end of the corridor.  Occasionally the mail is dropped off.  I typically see a few cars in front of Oceanography (and also now see the beginnings of the electric car charging station).  There are more geese on campus than I’ve ever observed, mostly paired up, and I look forward to a gaggle of goslings in April.  I’m sure the fox that lives in the cliffside below Monell is also looking forward to that.  A big fat possum walked by yesterday (pregnant?).  Today I saw a land beaver (aka woodchuck, aka groundhog) and a giant pileated woodpecker.  The deer herd seemingly continues to grow.  No fawn sightings yet, but the soccer pitch is getting incredibly well-fertilized.  The hellebore patch in the Rose Garden is in full bloom and yesterday evening was the first performance by the peepers in the pond.  The more abundant wildlife is small compensation for missing the vibrancy of our community of colleagues.

     Colleague Jonny Kingslake pointed me to the news article about the new CEO of Citibank, Jane Fraser, recently declaring Fridays off-limits for Zoom, citing mental exhaustion and Zoom fatigue.  We agreed that we (and everyone) should try to aim for Zoom-free Fridays again.  That will be my summer aspirational goal for the campus and I really hope we will also be able to have outdoor TGIF as the COVID restrictions loosen.  One last campus observation—a few have asked about the new Adirondack chairs around campus.   They were made of white cedar by a small family business in Maine called Allagash Wood Products. As part of their commitment to the planet, the company plants cedar seedlings in the forests of northern Maine, working “to ensure that a healthy forest will be available to future generations”. 

     Last week, a group of recent Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellows discussed their Nature Sustainability paper, "Supporting interdisciplinary careers for sustainability", with Alex Halliday and Rita Colwell (first woman director of NSF) as part of the Sustain What? conversation series. In their paper, the EI Postdocs discuss the institutional policies that presently support interdisciplinary careers and highlight the remaining issues that make interdisciplinary work particularly challenging for early career scholars. They offer specific suggestions on how to improve hiring, performance reviews, funding, and the publishing process to better reflect stated support for applied, interdisciplinary work.  I really appreciated reading their paper and you can watch the Sustain What? discussion or read their paper here.

     I’d like to thank graduate student Casey Brayton for sending this update on this week’s Seminar for Race, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice.  The series welcomed Jackie Qataliña Schaeffer, an Iñupiaq woman from Kotzebue and Senior Project Manager at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). Jackie shared stories about how Alaska Natives on the frontlines of climate change are adapting to their rapidly changing environment. She emphasized that Alaska Natives have been stewards of the land for 10,000+ years and will continue to care for their lands, responding to environmental threats as their communities always have, with strength and resilience. ANTHC’s vision is Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world. If you would like to learn more about Jackie’s work at ANTHC, please check out the Center for Climate & Health website and read their Climate Assessment Reports, and subscribe to the Center for Environmentally Threatened Communities monthly newsletter to keep up to date on climate change news in Alaska. 

     Kuheli Dutt alerted us to the upcoming International Transgender Day of Visibility on 31 March 2021. This event is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and their contributions and successes, and also to raise awareness on the challenges and discrimination faced by the transgender community (including right here on our campuses). Learn more about it from the Human Rights Campaign and GLSEN resources for educators, students, and allies.  The

     Columbia School of Social Work is also sponsoring a celebration featuring performances by artists D’Lo and Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi on Thursday, April 1st at 6:30-8:30pm ET.  RSVP required. How great to have access to these free art performances during our closed-down world.

     In science/research news, many of the articles linked below cover ground we went over last week.  However, I particularly enjoyed the profile of Lamont graduate student Elise Myers (yes, that is her portrait hanging on the wall in the cafeteria!) and learning about her work on the Hudson River.  And you should all know about Einat Lev’s opinion column at CNN about the ongoing eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland!

     I’ll end with a huge congratulations to two of our current graduate students who heard this week that they had won a prestigious NSF Graduate Fellowship Award.  Kudos to Claire Jasper and Caroline Juang!  (And you coincidentally have the same initials…weird.)  In addition, honorable mentions were given to Ingrid Izaguirre, Andrew Hollyday, and Casey Ivanovich.  We are so proud of and happy for you all!  Congratulations.

     Wishing you all a peaceful, restorative weekend.

     Best, Mo








Cross-Country on a Carbon Budget

Nyack News & Views

March 24, 2021

Article by environmental law professor Karl Coplan, spouse of Lamont polar scientist Robin Bell.


A Dip in Atmospheric Carbon May Have Facilitated Dinosaur Dispersal


March 23, 2021

Article on study by Lamont paleomagnetist Dennis Kent and colleague.


How the Triassic Extinction Helped Dinosaurs Take Over the Planet


March 23, 2021

Article quotes Lamont paleontologist Paul Olsen.


Fossils in a Forgotten Ice Core Rewrite Greenland's Icy Past


March 22, 2021

Article on study by geochemist Joerg Schaefer, paleoclimatologist Dorothy Peteet, and colleagues.


Earthquake Detected Near Altamont

Times Union

March 20, 2021

Article cites Lamont earthquake research.


The Gulf Stream Is Weakening and It Promises Stronger Storms For NY and NJ


March 19, 2021

Article quotes Lamont physical oceanographer Arnold Gordon.


Safe to Swim? Scientist’s Study of River Bacteria Motivated by Environmental Justice

Slice of MIT

March 19, 2021

Article features Lamont Ph.D. student Elise Myers.


Hurricanes Keep Showing Up Early — Forecasts Are Catching Up

MPR News

March 18, 2021

Interview with Lamont climate scientist Suzana Camargo.


Greenland Was Once Ice-free — and Seas Were 20 Feet Higher: Study

New York Daily News

March 16, 2021

Article on study by geochemist Joerg Schaefer, paleoclimatologist Dorothy Peteet, and colleagues.


Bet You Didn't Expect to Find Million-Year-Old Trees in Your Freezer


March 16, 2021

Article on study by geochemist Joerg Schaefer, paleoclimatologist Dorothy Peteet, and colleagues.


13 Women Who Made Scientific History

Best Colleges

March 16, 2021

Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.