Lamont Weekly Report, January 8, 2010

Since I have been Director, I have not started a New Year with such prospects for activity and change in so many different areas of the institution. Although essentially all of this is good, change inevitably brings a lot of work and many tough decisions. This time next year many things will be different. My relatively robust predictions for the New Year include:
    - The beginning of major work on the complete renovation of the top
      floor of the New Core Lab to give the BPE Division the quality
      laboratory facilities they have needed desperately for years
    - Key additions to our staff with excellent new appointments in
      Atmospheric Sciences, Geodesy, Paleoceanography, Geodynamics,
      Terrestrial Ecology and Biological Oceanography
    - The conversion of our Doherty staff into the new 9 month Lamont
      Research Professor positions
    - Injections of major new funding from NSF to drive the significant
      expansion of our Polar research efforts
    - Although all will not be delivered during 2010, I predict at least
      six (if not more) major mass spectrometer instruments (representing
      many millions of dollars of both Federal and Institutional
      investment) will be on order to substantially modernize and expand the
      laboratory analytical capabilities of both the Biology and
      Paleoenvironment and Geochemistry Divisions.

So that is some of what I see in my not-so-fuzzy crystal ball - and many of you know there is more - much more (e.g. completion of the ultra clean lab in the Comer Building - this afternoon we received formal word of ~$1.2M funding from NIST for this).  So, as I say, this is all good. It brings health and dynamicism to our Institution - but it also brings tough challenges, and when all these things start happening at the same time, some degree of chaos. But this does not
worry me too much - if there is one thing that we have experience in handling around here... it is chaos.

So, when I wish everyone a happy, successful and prosperous New Year it is based to some degree on fact. 2010 will be a landmark year for Lamont. But any satisfaction that we gain from this should be tempered by the harsh reality that ten per cent of the good citizens of this country are unemployed. We are the lucky ones, and we should remember and appreciate that.

And before I get flooded with emails reminding me of all the things that are NOT as they should be around here - yes I know that. I know Lamont Hall should have been renovated ten years ago, I know we should put more money into building maintenance and energy conservation, I know that, through no fault of our own, the number of operating days for our research vessel Langseth in 2010 are marginally sufficient to support a viable operation, I know that the percentage of women on our research staff is too low (only four of our DARS are women right now - we need to change that).  I am not so naive as to believe that all is sweet and rosy - there remain many areas of my responsibility that need improvement. Just today I received formal notification from downtown that the income from our endowment will be decreased yet
again in the next fiscal year, so there will be need (again) for tough budget decisions.

OK - enough philosophy for one year... have a good weekend - and remember that the days are getting longer already - the sailing season will be here before we know it.