State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

MPA Students Tour Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Professor Jason Smerdon leads a tour of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus.

On July 1, students from the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program (MPA-ESP) traveled to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to expose the students to the research being conducted by Lamont researchers. The trip was organized by researchers Jason Smerdon and Benjamin Bostick, who teach the Climatology and Environmental Chemistry courses for the MPA-ESP program.

Many of the case studies the MPA-ESP students have used for lab work come from came from Lamont, and it is at Lamont that many of MPA-ESP faculty conduct their research. By visiting the Lamont campus, the students were able to put a “face” to the science they learn in class.

core lab
Students visit the Core Lab.

The trip began with an introduction to Lamont by the director, Sean C. Solomon, who introduced some scientific “firsts” Lamont is responsible for. Once students had been orientated, researchers came to discuss their research, which offered an overview of the types of projects being conducted at Lamont and how they relate to the MPA-ESP program.

“I got to learn how people work here and the profound meaning their work has. It’s a rewarding experience,” student Li Chen said. Through a series of lectures, students were able to gain valuable insight into the research conducted at Lamont. These lectures ranged from discussions on bacterial release of arsenic in Bangladesh to the use of Be10 to find the age of moraines (debris left by glaciers) to measure how glaciers reacted to past climates.

Following the morning presentations, students got to tour the Lamont campus, which student Xuan Hong Lim said left the students “awestruck.” Locations included the original Lamont manor house, where they learned about the history of Lamont, and got to see the modest beginnings of the research institute. Also on the tour was the Core Lab, which houses tens of thousands of seabed core samples from every ocean. These cores can be used to help determine paleoclimate conditions as well as serving myriad other scientific purposes.

“The core sediment lab…makes me want to join a ship crew and take core samples!” student Bridget Hardy said. Also on the tour was the Gary Comer Building, home to Lamont’s new Geochem research facilities, where students learned about research being done on the effects of hydraulic fracturing from Beizhan Yan, an issue of great interest to many of the students.

Overall, the visit was an informative look at the research being conducted by Earth Institute researchers and how it applies to the courses the MPA ESP students are enrolled in this summer.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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