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Lamont-Doherty director named to new post


The marine geophysicist who has served as director of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for the past decade has been named to a new post.

G. Michael Purdy will become Columbia’s executive vice president for research effective Feb. 1, the university said Friday.

Purdy will be replaced on an interim basis by Lamont-Doherty’s associate director, Arthur Lerner-Lam, who will serve while the university conducts what is expected to be a worldwide search for a permanent director.

Columbia University’s president, Lee Bollinger, and the Earth Institute’s director, Jeffrey Sachs, informed staff of the changes in an email sent Thursday.

Lamont-Doherty, part of the Earth Institute, is a research center dedicated to seeking knowledge “about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world,” according to its website.

In that pursuit, Lamont-Doherty’s 300 research scientists study everything from global climate change and earthquakes to nonrenewable resources and environmental hazards. The scientists work on every continent and in every ocean on the planet.

In a statement, Bollinger commented on Purdy’s efforts.

“He helped build a world renowned interdisciplinary research institution with the capacity to apply its scientific expertise to the complex problems facing a global society,” Bollinger stated.

“He possesses not only the respected scholarly and administrative experience required for this position, but also a deep familiarity with Columbia’s academic culture, and our ambitious goals for scientific research in the years ahead,” Bollinger stated.

Lerner-Lam heads Lamont-Doherty’s Division of Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics. He is an expert on earthquakes and other natural hazards, and Sachs said Lerner-Lam was responsible for “bringing seismological knowledge to earth-affected communities around the world.”

Lerner-Lam recently led an international scientific task force in assessing the future earthquake risk to Haiti and nearby nations following a devastating earthquake that struck more than a year ago.

Above, top, G. Michael Purdy; above, bottom, Arthur Lerner-Lam (Photos provided by Columbia University).

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Friday, January 21st, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

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The Nature of Things provides a chance to talk about the wild denizens that share the Lower Hudson Valley with us and the natural settings that make this place home for everyone. From Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Great Swamp and beyond, almost anything related to the environment is fair game in this blog.


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SBenischekJournal News staff writer Greg Clary writes Earth Watch, reporting on environmental issues in the lower Hudson region. Clary has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Journal News since 1988 and has covered police and courts, transportation, municipal government, development and the environment in the Lower Hudson Valley, among other topics.
Laura IncalcaterraLaura Incalcaterra covers the environment, open space and zoning and planning issues for The Journal News. A Boston College graduate, Laura grew up in Rockland, attended East Ramapo schools and has worked for The Journal News since 1993. Laura has written features and covered North Rockland, crime, government and a host of other issues.
SBenischekMike Risinit covers Patterson and Kent in Putnam County, as well as environmental topics touching on the Hudson River and the Great Swamp. Risinit has been a reporter at The Journal News since 1998.
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