May 2018 Letter from the Director

Science in the Nation's Capital

 
When one thinks of key centers for scientific research in the United States, places like Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas in California usually come to mind. Washington D.C. is more often associated with the nation's governance, but this overlooks the large number of scientific organizations based in the Washington region. Examples of such organizations conducting research on topics that overlap those pursued at DTM include the USGS, NASA Goddard, the Applied Physics Lab (although those familiar with DTM will recognize APL as originating at DTM with the proximity fuse work done during World War II), the Smithsonian, University of Maryland, and John Hopkins. DTM may be one of the smaller of these organizations, but this does not stop us from serving as a hub for science discussions in the DC area, bringing together the large number of national, state, and private research efforts in the area.
 

Reservoirs and Fluxes Community participants at Carnegie's Broad Branch Road campus. Photo: Roberto Molar Candanosa, DTM.
 
May started off with the meeting of the DCO DECADE (Deep Earth Carbon Degassing) group that brought 15 scientists from around the world to our campus to discuss with DECADE leader and DTM Staff Scientist Erik Hauri the many research efforts being pursued to better understand the abundance and fate of carbon in Earth's interior. Later in May, Alan Boss hosted the ChExo (Chesapeake Bay Area Exoplanet) meeting that brought in 70 scientists from the greater Washington area to discuss the latest progress in finding and characterizing exoplanets. A highlight of the meeting was projection of the first star field image taken by TESS some 3 seconds after the embargo on the image was lifted by NASA. TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) is overseen by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and was built by Orbital ATK, headed by Carnegie Trustee David Thompson. Thompson last year invited several from DTM to the TESS assembly site near Dulles Airport to see the spacecraft before it was transferred to Cape Canaveral for placement at the tip of a Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
 
DTM's Meredith MacGregor at the ChExo meeting. Photo: Roberto Molar Candanosa, DTM.
 
The key reason for DTM playing such a prominent role as a scientific center in the area is the leadership role that DTM scientists play in many of the research topics of interest to these groups. We are proud to serve this role, and to be an active member of the vibrant research community in the Washington area. Our campus is the perfect site for such small meetings because of its central location, ease of access, excellent meeting and AV facilities, and skilled assistance of DTM staff Michael Acierno, Janice Dunlap, Adriana Kuehnel, Roberto Molar, and Susanna Mysen in arranging meeting logistics, IT, communication and outreach.
 
Sharing Science
 
Another reflection of DTM's role in national and international science is our ability to attract prominent scientists to serve as Tuve Senior Fellows. Our current Tuve Fellow, Dr. Albrecht Hofmann, returns to DTM after a long absence. Dr. Hofmann was a postdoc at the Geophysical Laboratory and then a staff member at DTM until 1980, when he left to be director of what he developed into one of the world’s leading research centers in solid Earth science: the geochemistry department of the Max Planck Institut für Chemie in Mainz, Germany.  We are very happy to be able to welcome Al and his wife Julie back to DTM and to share with him the latest advances in our fields of science from both sides of the Atlantic.  Al presented his Tuve Lecture “A New Look at Earth’s Crust-Mantle Evolution” on May 30.  The lecture will be available on the DTM YouTube page shortly after the lecture.

 

 

 

 


 

 
 
Carnegie BBR Poster Gathering, held on May 23, 2018. Photo: Roberto Molar Candanosa, DTM.
 
This month we also held the annual all-BBR campus poster session that included poster presenters from the University of Maryland. Organized this year by GL postdocs Zack Geballe and Steve Elardo with DTM postdocs Miki Nakajima and Sharon Wang, the poster session brought the campus together on a beautiful Spring day for casual conversation and the exchange of information on the wide ranging science being conducted on campus. The posters remained on display the next day to the benefit of our campus neighbors who attended the final Neighborhood Lecture of the season presented by GL Staff Scientist Tim Strobel. Tim did an excellent job of describing his fascinating work on the creation of new materials with wide ranging properties in a way that was understandable to the diverse audience. As with all our previous Neighborhood Lectures, Tim's is available for viewing on the GL web page and is well worth a look if you were not there to see the lecture in person.



The Workplace Environment
 

Another recent seminar worth watching is the postdoctoral workshop presented by Dr. Laura Kramer, who is a Professor Emerita of Sociology at Montclair State University. She is author of the book "The Sociology of Gender: A Brief Introduction" and was involved in many capacities in the development of the ADVANCE program at NSF that was directed at increasing the participation of women in STEM careers. Her presentation focused on the subtle types of behavior that occur often in professional settings that work to diminish diversity in the workplace. For me, a highlight of her presentation was the inclusion of some simple solutions to help foster more open work environments that encourage effective communication and inclusion of diverse viewpoints.

By unanimous vote of the Carnegie Board of Trustees, Dr. Eric D. Isaacs has been appointed the 11th president of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Photo: University of Chicago.

A particularly exciting bit of news in May was the naming of Dr. Eric Isaacs as the new President of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Dr. Isaacs currently is the Executive Vice President for Research, Innovation and National Laboratories at the University of Chicago, where he oversees the Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab as well as the university's partnership in the Giant Magellan Telescope. Formerly, he worked at Bell Laboratories for 15 years before joining Argonne National Laboratories, where he became director in 2009. We welcome Dr. Isaacs to the Carnegie Institution and look forward to working with him to continue and expand Carnegie's research efforts.

The announcement of Dr. Isaacs' appointment was made at the annual meeting of the Carnegie Board of Trustees. Another highlight of that meeting was the evening presentation by new Geophysical Laboratory Director Mike Walter, who provided an exciting overview of the many ways that diamonds are providing new information about Earth's deep interior from both laboratory experiments and natural samples. Without a doubt, May provided a number of indications of an exciting future for Carnegie and DTM.

 
 
Richard Carlson, Director, DTM
Carnegie Institution for Science