Lamont Weekly Report, October 7, 2011

Open House 2011 garnered 3098 visitors by official count, 7 less than last year. That's a very good number, considering the threatening skies and our hiatus two years ago. The lectures were packed, kids were engaged, and there were huge numbers of Morningside students in attendance. Altogether, it was a great day, with the staff barbecue providing the right finishing touch. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone, including Exxon/Mobil Community Relations, the Earth Institute
and a number of private donors for their financial support. Does anyone know the names of the 7 who wimped out?

NSF has issued a 'Dear Colleague' letter describing a new initiative to promote international research and education collaborations. Three pilot projects have been funded. The program, known as 'Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI)' is described here:

SAVI, and other NSF initiatives such as Sustainability Research Networks (part of SEES), FESD, and the PIRE program (sorry for the acronym soup), portend an increased NSF emphasis on interdisciplinary, multiple partner projects. We've competed effectively for these in the past (examples include the decades-old Continental Dynamics Program in EAR), and it will be worth keeping track and participating in the leadership of these initiatives. We must also keep track of how these cross cutting programs balance against the core programs, something we should be able to do on
several fronts.

The 'Science Social' at Faculty House hosted by Amber Miller and Mike Purdy attracted a large number of Lamonters, which, by my count, was the single largest unit representation. I hope we can continue these interactions; Mike and Amber have established a good mechanism, hopefully to be followed by other opportunities to reduce the intellectual distance between Lamont research and relevant disciplines on Morningside.

A long discussion at the EI faculty meeting on Monday hinged on how and on what basis that group should admit new members. (The Lamont Director and the DEES chair are ex officio members.) This bears discussion internally at Lamont, as well, because of our importance to the Earth Institute and our interest in furthering earth and environmental science
more broadly at Columbia. Understanding the role of the EI faculty in EI management is an important first step. More to come.

Students: corporate recruiting season is underway, with Exxon/Mobil already in the tank, and others being scheduled. Historically, these have been organized out of the SGT division, and Dana Miller is handling the scheduling. ConocoPhillips is recruiting next week.

Columbia's Ombuds Office, headed by Marsha Wagner, is always available for consultations. In the interests of facilitating contact, they have offered to hold office hours here at Lamont.  Appointments can be scheduled on the first Friday of the month and will take place in the Lamont Hall Reading Room (1st floor), where confidentiality can be assured. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 212-854-1234, and Virginia Maher or Kuheli Dutt can supply more information.

If you saw me grumbling today, apologies. Blame it on the Yankees.