Lamont Weekly Report, May 17, 2019

    The last phases of the academic year seemed to accelerate into view this week, with final examinations ending today and an explosion of tents, grandstands, and fences on the Morningside Campus indicating that Commencement will be held next week. The week also brought multiple welcome milestones to staff and students at Lamont.

    Róisín Commane received the good news late last week that she has been awarded a Lenfest Junior Faculty Development Grant by Columbia University. Her winning proposal was on the topic of “Urban to rural gradients of greenhouse gases and air pollution in New York City.” Congratulations, Róisín!

    Michael Kaplan received formal notice this week that he has been elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. A brief citation of the rationale for Mike’s fellowship will be published soon on GSA’s web site and in the July issue of GSA Today, and he will be honored at the Awards Ceremony at the society’s 2019 Annual Meeting, to be held this September in Phoenix. Kudos to Mike!

    This week featured the completion of annual performance reviews for members of the Observatory’s scientific staff. On Monday, I met with Lamont’s Associate Directors, Art Lerner-Lam, Virginia Maher, Kuheli Dutt, and Kim Schermerhorn to discuss the reviews of all of our scientists. As in past years, the exercise provided an affirming overview of the progress that we have made over the past year toward our research and educational missions.

    On Tuesday, Daniel Sousa successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on “Multiscale imaging of evapotranspiration.” In addition to his thesis supervisor, Chris Small, Dan’s committee included Doug Martinson, Bill Menke, and Pierre Gentine and Manu Lall from the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering. Dan has accepted a position at the La Kretz Research Center at Sedgwick Reserve (, operated by the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dan writes, “My work there will focus on using both remote and in situ measurements to investigate questions related to water availability and ecological dynamics in the California Rangelands.”

    One day later, Yen Joe Tan successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on the quite different topic of “Earthquake and volcanic processes at mid-ocean ridges,” completed under the supervision of Maya Tolstoy. Yen Joe’s committee, in addition to Maya, included Bill Menke, Felix Waldhauser, Spahr Webb, and Allan Rubin from the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. Yen Joe will move first to a postdoctoral post with Bill Ellsworth’s group at Stanford University and thereafter to a faculty position at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

    To Drs. Sousa and Tan, congratulations to you both!

    The R/V Marcus Langseth is in the northwestern Pacific this week conducting the second phase of the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain Seismic Experiment (, led by Donna Shillington and Tony Watts. To date, the shipboard party has completed a refraction profile across the Emperor seamount chain to a network of ocean-bottom seismometers, a two-dimensional multi-channel seismic (MCS) reflection profile along the same line with the Langseth’s 15-km-long streamer, and an MCS line oblique to the seamount trend. Refraction and MCS reflection profiles are planned along the seamount chain, after which the ship will head to Kodiak, Alaska, in about two weeks.

    The International Ocean Discovery Program will see a change in science parties on the JOIDES Resolution drill ship next week in Punta Arenas, Chile, and current and past personnel from Lamont are playing important roles in both the expedition that will be ending and the one that will be setting out. Maureen Raymo, as Co-Chief Scientist, leads the science party for the current Expedition 382, Iceberg Alley and Subantarctic Ice and Ocean Dynamics (, a team that includes Sid Hemming (stratigraphic correlator/petrophysics) and Lamont alumni Suzanne O’Connell (sedimentologist), Lisa Tauxe (paleomagnetist), and Trevor Williams (expedition project manager) (

    Gisela Winckler, in turn, will serve as Co-Chief Scientist for IODP Expedition 383,  Dynamics of the Pacific Antarctic Circumpolar Current (, and the science party will include Julia Gottschalk (sedimentologist) and Jennifer Middleton (stratigraphic correlator), as well as Lamont alumni Chandranath Basak (inorganic geochemist), Jesse Farmer (sedimentologist/core description), and Christina Ravelo (stratigraphic correlator) ( A Kevin Krajick story on the goals of Expedition 383 was posted to Lamont’s web site on Wednesday (

    The 2019 issue of Past Global Changes, the magazine of the program of the same name, is on the topic of Paleo Constraints on Sea-Level Rise and includes short articles by Jacky Austermann and Mo Raymo ( Jacky’s paper, written with Alessandro Forte from the University of Florida, is on “The importance of dynamic topography for understanding past sea level changes.” Mo is coauthor of a paper, led by Ken Miller from Rutgers University, on “Peak sea level during the warm Pliocene: Errors, limitations, and constraints.”

    On Wednesday, Winslow Hansen was the guest speaker at a local AARP meeting held at the Jewish Community Center of Rockland in West Nyack. The topic of his presentation was “Resilience and reorganization of 21st-century forests in western North America.” 

    Yesterday, Radley Horton testified before the Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries and Weather of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in a hearing on “Atmospheric Science Research and Forecasting Innovation.” The hearing focused on recent research in the atmospheric sciences, particularly in the area of forecasting, and how to make the results of research broadly accessible and usable. Other witnesses included Waleed Abdalati, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder; Deborah Bronk, President of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences; and Erika Washburn, Director of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve. A video and the text of Radley’s testimony can be found in a Marie Aronsohn story on our web site (

    On Monday and Tuesday next week, Lamont will host a small workshop on “Water in the Mantle.” Terry Plank is a member of the workshop organizing committee, along with Uli Faul from MIT, Greg Hirth from Brown University, and Jessica Warren from the University of Delaware. Lamont presenters at the workshop sessions, which will be held in the Comer Building, will include Terry, Anna Barth, Samer Naif, Josh Russell, Henry Towbin, and Lucy Tweed.

    In the meantime, this afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by geophysicist Robert Sohn, a Senior Scientist in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ( Rob will be speaking about “The fascinating and complex geology and hydrodynamics of Yellowstone Lake.” I hope that the fascinating and complex among you will join me in his audience.

    Today’s colloquium will be the last of the academic year. This year’s series has brought us a diverse and intellectually compelling slate of outstanding speakers on timely and important topics. Please join me in thanking this year’s Colloquium Organizers Lloyd Anderson, Christine Chesley, Genevieve Coffey, Una Miller, Elise Myers, and Lucy Tweed, as well as Colloquium Coordinator Radley Horton!

    To celebrate the end of the colloquium series, and to recognize some of the more artistic among our staff and students, Miriam Cinquegrana has organized a photo exhibit – the second in a planned series of exhibits – to follow the colloquium in the Monell Lower Lobby. With a theme of The Aleutians, Alaska, the exhibit will feature photos by Anna Barth, Billy D’Andrea, Jonathan Nichols, and Dan Rasmussen. A reception will accompany the exhibit, and I hope to see you there.