Lamont Weekly Report, May 1, 2009

Despite the glorious weather last Sunday afternoon, Brendan Buckley's talk at the Spring Public Lecture series, the last for this season, attracted a good audience - this was the first event of many during the week. Brendan told a wonderful story about how he is linking the history of past droughts in SE Asia (reconstructed from tree rings) to the disappearance of ancient civilizations in the region.  Every year attendance at this lecture series increases - a couple of years ago we
had to start charging an entry fee to control the numbers somewhat - but still the pressure grows -  Lamont owes a great debt of thanks to all this year's speakers - thank you Michael Studinger, Dorothy Peteet, Nick Christie-Blick and Byrdie Renik (and of course Brendan).

On Monday evening there was a recognition of Provost's Alan Brinkley's many contributions to the University - he will be stepping down at the end of June - a very plush, and well-attended reception in the Rotunda of the Low Library. Notably one of the Alan's accomplishments that President Bollinger recognized in his speech was that of creating the
Research Professorships at Lamont.  We all certainly owe Alan a great deal of thanks for that.

Tuesday saw the final EI Academic Committee meeting of the academic year in the afternoon and in the evening the Wings WorldQuest awards ceremony that honored our own Maya Tolstoy for her pioneering work on mid-ocean ridges and seafloor processes. This was a spectacular evening - held at the Rooftop in Tribeca - attended by movie stars and
TV personalities - with the accompanying paparazzi - a very different and honestly enjoyable atmosphere.

The week ended with the first annual Arthur D. Storke Memorial lecture. Stephen Kesler from the University of Michigan gave a great talk and a group of us will be entertaining him for dinner this evening - in Piermont - similar to Tribeca, in that from both locales you can see the Hudson River!

If you want to learn about building global sustainability through interdisciplinary scholarship here is a great event planned for next week - Thursday 3pm in the Satow room of Lerner Hall downtown - a group of the Earth institute post doc fellows will be talking about their research, and Jeff Sachs will be giving the closing remarks.

Please be assured that the leadership of Lamont, along with folks downtown are monitoring the H1N1 flu virus situation.  Decisions about any actions that we should take institutionally will be made in a timely way and in full consultation with the leadership downtown. The University's Pandemic Preparedness Work Group (PPWG) began a nightly conference call meeting last Friday as news of the epidemic broke. Lamont's Safety Manager, Howie Matza, has participated in these calls on our behalf, and will continue to do so for as long as the epidemic persists.  Today the University's Emergency Management Operations Team (EMOT) was convened by the PPWG as a step towards heightened preparedness.  In brief, this is the message we have taken away from that meeting.  The pandemic meets all of the criteria of the pandemic
for which we had previously assembled contingency plans - by virtue of it's efficient spread, novel strain and worldwide impact.  However, our response has been tempered by the mildness of the strain.  We are not alarmed at this time and our most basic advice is if you are sick, stay home and get better. We believe that not canceling our events is more beneficial than any prevention that might be gained thereby.  We will continue to be informed by PPWG, who is keeping their website updated in real time.  Please check out for more information.

Have a great weekend,

- Mike