Lamont Weekly Report, June 7, 2013

     This week the campus has been treated to daylong serenades by the abundant local representatives of Brood II cicadas.

     The R/V Langseth sailed from Vigo, Spain, on Saturday. After a half-day of steaming, the scientific party and crew began deploying the seismic streamers, air gun arrays, and other equipment needed to conduct a three-dimensional structural study of the Galicia rift. Progress on the 45-day cruise can be followed through the daily blogs posted by Donna Shillington and others at

     On Monday, Art Lerner-Lam joined a group led by the Earth Institute’s Steve Cohen and Nancy Degnan in a meeting at the midtown offices of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights for a discussion about the center’s Compass Program. The RFK Compass Program “works with institutional investors to advance a discussion of the connections among investment performance, fiduciary duty, and public interest issues to optimize risk-adjusted rates of returns and address current and future global challenges” ( The center’s concept of sustainable investing recognizes the need to understand environmental risks, among other factors. Art will be attending a discussion later this month in Hyannis, Massachusetts, about how such understanding might be incorporated into a curriculum for institutional investors. The Earth Institute is entering into an agreement with the RFK Center to develop a provisional curriculum, and there should be opportunities for Lamont scientists to participate.

     On Tuesday Lamont hosted a visit by Deborah Stiles, Columbia’s Vice President for Research Operations, and Rudina (Rudi) Odeh-Ramadan, Columbia’s new Associate Vice President for Research Administration with oversight of the Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA). Stiles and Odeh-Ramadan met with Lamont directorate staff (Art Lerner-Lam, Kathy Callahan, Emily Soergel, and me), representatives of our staff in administration and finance (Edie Miller, Maribel Respo, Bonnie Bonkowski, Jean Economos, Sally Odland, Moanna St. Clair, Sandra Tiwari), Sean Higgins from OMO, three representative principal investigators (Pratigya Polissar, Andreas Thurnherr, and Chris Zappa), Bob Chen from CIESIN, and Haresh Bhojwani and Andrew Robertson from IRI. Discussions focused on recent efforts at SPA to improve services provided to PIs and research administrative staff.

     On Tuesday evening, new members inducted into Columbia University’s "25-year Club" in a ceremony in the Roone Arledge Auditorium included Lamont’s Virginia DiBlasi-Morris from the Ocean and Climate Physics Division and Langseth Chief Engineer Albert Karlyn.

     Lamont’s Strategic Planning Committee presented their latest ideas on the strategic plan they are developing to an all-hands town hall meeting in the Monell auditorium this morning. The committee has made considerable progress in the articulation of a plan that argues persuasively for the maintenance of Lamont’s core strengths in basic science, identifies several key research themes that cross-cut the traditional disciplines and divisions, and highlights a number of targeted initiatives for particular focus in research and fundraising. Considerable constructive feedback was provided by attendees, and the committee welcomes further input by electronic mail.

    In the news this week, Dorothy Peteet was interviewed by WAMC and Northeast Public Radio for the show “Academic Minute” on the history and paleoclimate of the Hudson River area ( Gisela Winckler was quoted in a story posted today on on climate change, mountain glaciers, and fresh water supply in Peru (

     Next week promises to be a busy one. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Lamont and the Earth Institute will host a Bhutan Symposium, organized by Joerg Schaefer, Peter Schlosser, and Ed Cook. A meeting of Lamont’s Advisory Board this Wednesday afternoon in the Comer Building will be followed by a Director’s Circle talk by Hugh Ducklow on “The disappearing cryosphere and Antarctica’s changing ecosystems.” And on Saturday in the Guild Hall in East Hampton, the Hamptons Institute and the Roosevelt Institute will be hosting a panel presentation on “After Sandy: What can we do about climate change?” The panel will include Steve Cohen, Adam Sobel, and Sabine Marx from the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions and will be moderated by author Dava Sobel (

     In the meantime, we can wonder how steady rainfall affects the ardor of our local cicada population.