Lamont Weekly Report, October 28, 2011

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, to which we belong, held its semi-annual meeting in DC this week. Dave Goldberg and I also attended a meeting of the Scientific Ocean Drilling Subcommittee of the Ocean Leadership Board. These were useful and informative meetings, highlighted by a series of presentations by Ocean Leadership and NSF senior management on the state of the federal science budgets and the impacts on ocean science research and facilities. A few tidbits: we are more confident about the support for ocean drilling within NSF, though the National Science Board still has to weigh in; NSF's Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction (MREFC) account, which supports the construction phase of the Ocean Observatories Initiative, is stressed; infrastructure support costs covered by OCE (ships and other facility operations and maintenance costs) are increasing relative to top-line OCE funding; and NSF as a whole is developing more directed science initiatives, such as Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES). We discussed some of the implications at our Excom meeting this morning: my own sense is that Lamont - the institution and the individual scientists - can be competitive in this complex funding environment. Clearly we will be discussing this many times over as we develop the framework and content of a Lamont strategic plan, because many of these changes play to our strengths as an institution. More to come.

Our Second Annual Director's Circle took place last Saturday. This event was designed last year by Mike Purdy and Barb Charbonnet to develop another cohort of Lamont supporters by drenching them with an exciting afternoon of science. In order of appearance: Peter Kelemen (w/Michael Cembalest, a member of our Board); Robin Bell, Donna Shillington, Peter Kelemen and Ajit Subramaniam (giving short master classes); Peter deMenocal, Pratigya Polissar,  Baerbel Hoenisch, Maureen Raymo (giving a sequence on biogeosciences). We had a large audience filled with new faces, and they remained engaged throughout. Thanks to Barb, Stacey Vassallo, Erika Freimuth, Dove Pedlosky and Jennifer Potocnik for making this happen.

Edie Miller has been busy filling vacant positions and realigning some existing ones to better support our research. New hires include: Wanda Espinal, Accounts Payable Supervisor; Nina Aguilar, Accounts Payable; Jen Potocnik, Financial Analyst; Sara Wolf, Coordinator of International Research Assignments. Welcome aboard! It is hard to overstate the
importance of a smoothly run administrative operation to our science. With both day-to-day operations and long-term analytics, Edie's team has made it possible for the Associate Directors and me to make decisions based on fact. Our new colleagues above will be part of an administrative division that is bombarded almost daily by externalities that could, in theory, get in the way of our science. That they don't is a testament to their dedication. Still, some new rule gets dropped on us nearly every day, a constant reminder that our administrative team has to be adaptive and responsive. Kelemen knows what I'm talking about when I assert that our admin is trying its best to be a diode.

By the way, Jen Potocnik was the missing Chili contest winner in last week's report: 2nd Place Veggie!

We held our annual 10-year anniversary luncheon on Monday. Good colleagues, good food, and good conversation: This year's decadal fellows are:

Michael Bell
Anthony Dachille
Antonio Deloatch
Paula Kolacia
George Lozefski
Juerg Matter
Bernard McKiernan
Charles McNally
Frank Nitsche
Andrew Robertson
Golam Sarker
Joerg Schaefer
David Schaff
David Strom
Felix Waldhauser
Gisela Winckler

Lastly, Kim Martineau has assumed responsibility to forward news items to the weekly Earth Institute operations newsletter. This is an important way for us to keep our colleagues in the Earth Institute informed about Lamont. Please keep Kim in the loop.

Snow this weekend? Say it ain't so...