Lamont Weekly Report, September 17, 2010

I attended John Diebold's Memorial service organized by his family in Nyack on Sunday afternoon.  It was an event befitting John's greatness of character - with wonderful remembrances, incredible photographs and beautiful music. It was very moving - in fact tough to get through with composure - I had to leave quickly at the end - just too much hurt.  As I hope you all know we will have our own John Diebold event this coming Friday - September 24th 1:30pm in the Monell Building - the program is on our web page.  We will celebrate his science and his many irreplaceable contributions to Lamont.  A fund has been established in his name - to support students going to sea on research cruises- if you would like to contribute please contact Barb Charbonnet in the Development Office.

I spent Monday on the Hudson River with Biological Oceanographer Andy Juhl - sampling monthly repeat sites between Haverstraw and Kingston. It was not only a wonderful day - away from the pressures of the office - but I learned a tremendous amount about the many different factors that control the health of the river waters - as well as the
analytical techniques that produce the enterococcus counts that are the most basic data collected.  You can see all the results on (Lamont's partner in this effort, along with Greg O'Mullan at Queen's College) - click on 'Water Quality'. In a few days the data I actually helped collect will be up there! (Doubtless with atypically large errors!)  Andy told me earlier today that three of the 18 stations that we occupied recorded contaminant levels above the EPA guidelines.

It was a great privilege on Wednesday night to share a dinner table, not only with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Bhutan, but also with the legendary Ted Sorenson (John F. Kennedy's speechwriter) - not to mention President Bollinger and Jeff Sachs!!  This was, of course, part of the celebrations marking the visit by the Prime Minister of this wonderful nation, (from which the world should learn so much) to Columbia University. Wednesday was a non-stop 16 hour day - wears thin after a while.

Just to let everyone know that we are grappling with a very troubling problem with the Comer Building - exhaust from the building's backup generator gets sucked into the air circulation system - obviously resulting in unacceptable contamination (but equally obviously, only when the backup generator is actually running - which hopefully is rarely, but... winter is coming). We have for some time been searching for an affordable fix. It now seems unlikely that such a solution exists.  Obviously this is a design screw-up of the first order - the generator should not have been located where it was. But it
looks like it will cost us substantially more than a hundred $K to correct - another unexpected and painful draw upon our already limited resources.  I have asked Pat to come up with a final decision on action in 1-2 weeks, so we can move towards a permanent solution.

Open House will be here before we know it - Saturday October 2nd.  This year we are planning to 'advertise' on Morning Edition on WNYC the week prior so hopefully we get an even greater crowd than usual.  This is an important day for Lamont - our one opportunity each year to show our friends and neighbors what we do - thank you to all who are
helping prepare exhibits - we are trying to make it a record-breaking year attendance-wise - I think the record to date is something close to 4000.

Have a great weekend,