Lamont Weekly Report, March 5, 2010

The February 22nd issue of the Columbia record finally made it to the top of my pile and who should be on the front page but a very peaceful-looking Steve Goldstein - many congratulations Steve - he won one of the seven University-wide Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Awards - in recognition of his exceptional teaching and mentoring skills.  A well deserved honor.

Many thanks to Lex van Geen and his post doc fellows selection committee - I have received the results of this year's evaluation process. Out of the 114 applications they identified 8 worthy of being shortlisted, with three within that shortlist being described as truly exceptional.  We have two offers out and under consideration right now, and I just completed the very depressing but necessary task of personally signing the 106 decline letters that will be bringing sadness to many very bright folks from all over the world.

As many of you know, I am sure, there are several significant personnel departures from science leadership in DC coming up over the next few months. Arden Bement is stepping down before the end of his Presidential appointment as director of NSF - no rumors at all that I have heard about his replacement - but this is obviously a critically important position for us.  And secondly, someone who is not of such direct importance to us, but has played a major role in defending the
importance of basic science in Congress:  Vernon Ehlers has announced his retirement - one of only three physicists in all of Congress. With his retirement we are losing an important voice of reason and knowledge among the usually misdirected cacophony of uninformed debate on science issues on the Hill.

Speaking about cacophony, I am pleased that this week is over - for several reasons, but most notably because it has been pledge week on NPR - and this destroys my usually tranquil morning commute to work.  I continue to be amazed that this repetitive pestering is actually an effective form of fund raising - but apparently it is. Maybe Lamont should adopt this strategy - send multiple daily pleas for support to our donor list until they beg for mercy and give us money... or
maybe not.

Over 50 degrees on Sunday 'they' say - spring must be just around the corner.

Have a great weekend,