Lamont Weekly Report, October 21, 2011

Awards time!

 Congratulations to:

John Templeton: Sara Langer Book Prize

Steve Brusatte: Best TA

Andy Juhl: Best Teacher

I forgot my own safety tip for the Diebold Memorial Chili Cook-off: get there in time to get something to eat. In any case, there was certainly a happy buzz in Lamont Hall despite the weather. Chili and assorted beverages are certainly effective and democratic emoluments for all the hard work that gets done around here. But here's the thing for us latecomers: Shouldn't the tasting be done just a spoonful at a time? With palate-cleansing sorbet in between? Or would that violate the feeding trough culture we have come to know and love? Just sayin'. And to keep fame from fleeing, the winners are (1st, 2nd, 3rd, thanks to Claire Bendersky):

Dessert: Ellen Foy, Cassy Meyers, Allison Lacko

Corn Bread: Howie Matza, Cathleen Dorothy, Mark VanKeuren

Veggie Chili: John Templeton, unrecorded, Lisa Streit

Meat Chili: Stefan Mrozewski, Ted Koczynski, Allison Hartman

Apologies to the 2nd place veggie chef.

Leave it to the Tree Ring Lab, though, to salve the hunger pangs with a late-running party celebrating a record-breaking round of proposal submissions - or whatever. And with Indian food no less. I managed to scam a few cooking tips and a couple of bags of spice from Sandra Tiwari, which should allow me to forego SeamlessWeb for a few weeks.

Margie Turrin, George Lozefski and other Lamonters (with assists from Kenna, O'Mullan, Nitsche, and Subramaniam) participated in the "Day in the Life of the Hudson River" on Tuesday, organized by NYS DEC, the Hudson River Estuary Program and Lamont, with support from Americorps and other sponsors. This year's event introduced more than 3000
students to river research at about 60 sites along the Hudson. There is an informative website at:

Conny Class and Steve Goldstein hosted the "near-completion opening" of the new Comer Ultra Clean Lab today. It's a world-class facility, and will be undergoing commissioning tests before becoming fully operational. Although the construction was partially supported by an award from NIST, we are relying on donations and gifts to provide the
required institutional match. Barb Charbonnet and her team have spent an enormous amount of energy on this project, raising more than $900,000 from more than 130 donors. Still, we need to raise an additional ~~$400,000, no small task in today's philanthropic environment. Nevertheless, congratulations to the construction team - including Pat O'Reilly's crew - who together with Alfred Schneider and our scientists steered this facility from vision to reality.

Speaking of development, we will be hosting our second annual Director's Circle event tomorrow in Comer. The inaugural event proved to be a successful experiment in bringing Lamont to the attention of a new cohort, and this year's event looks even more promising. The focus this year, as it was last year, is on our science and our pursuit of the most difficult and important problems. We have a great team of speakers contributing to an engaging program. I'll let you know next week how it turned out.

Please continue to provide feedback on the Director Search to The feedback from the first two visits has been good, but it could be better.

Two more milestones this week:

After making wonderful and important contributions to Lamont, Dove Pedlosky is leaving us for a new position in communications at NYU. It's a great career move for Dove. It's been a privilege to work with her, and I will miss her dearly.

And lastly, Walter Pitman celebrates his 39th birthday today. No scientist is more emblematic of all that is great at Lamont. If you catch him at lunch or on the bus, you will learn more than you thought you knew about the relationship between imagination and dogged determination that underlies great science. And you'll get a history lesson, complete with facts and foibles, on what it was like to be there at the birth of plate tectonics. In recognition of Walter's dedication to undergraduate education, DEES and Lamont have established the Walter Pitman Award, to support undergraduate travel to a major earth science meeting. Walter: all the best.