Cosmo Lab Lamont Lab Letter

This document was written with contributions from all lab members and is work in progress, it is a first step for us toward a more inclusive and diverse research group, we have lots of work to do!


Mission Statement

We are a multidisciplinary and international group that works on a broad range of problems and employs a range of methodologies (eg. field geology, theoretical work, geochemistry, geophysics, modeling). We strive to conduct research that improves understanding of glaciers and climate change in a way that centers the needs of the communities we work in. We have a strong commitment to fostering the learning/growth of students. We are actively working against harassment in the Geosciences (see Clancy et al., 2020; Field Ethic section) and are working to become an anti-racist lab, beginning with the following (after Chaudhary and Berhe, 2020):

  •     Hold regular (monthly?) discussions about antiracism 
  •     Continue to address racism in our lab and safety guidelines
  •     Publish and write grants with BIPOC colleagues
  •     Evaluate our lab’s mentoring practices (see Expectations for PhD Mentors)
  •     Amplify BIPOC voices in our field 
  •     Support BIPOC in their efforts to organize


Core Values

Communication - having open communication between all members of the lab is critical to our success.

Participation - everyone should make a good faith effort to participate fully in all lab discussions and activities.

Equity - ensuring that everyone's individual needs are met, and providing all members with opportunities for mentorship, growth and professional development


Core Values and Expectations for All Group Members 

  • Take the Implicit Association Test to help build an understanding of the unconscious biases that you (and everyone else) have.
  • Attend group meetings, including those in which our focus is on DEI-specific issues.
  • Ensure your CU trainings are up to date (laboratory safety training, sexual harassment training, etc.)
  • Be equitable when assigning tasks or asking others for their time (e.g., be cautious of gender-biases in service-type requests, etc.)
  • All group members will follow the Lamont Code of Conduct, much of which is echoed throughout this document. 
  • As a group, revisit and revise this lab letter at least once a year, when any new group member joins, or at the suggestion of any group member. 


Group Meetings 

We have weekly group meetings (currently scheduled for Wednesdays 12 to 1 pm). The purpose of these meetings is to (i) learn from each other about research happening within and beyond our group, (ii) provide space for talking about experiences and issues that impact research and learning, and (iii) discuss steps forward to improve our science, our group, and the broader geoscience community. To achieve these goals we commit to:

  • Creating a comfortable environment where everyone is able to ask questions and share thoughts. 
  • Communicating openly and respectfully: it’s important to tell each other when we disagree but we have to do this in ways that don’t shut the conversation down. When discussing other groups’ work, criticize ideas, not people. 
  • Learning together: Although we all come to these meetings at different levels, we’re here to learn together. 



Our group proposes an authorship policy in which colleagues who collect or analyze samples, conduct, enable, or support local field work on any level, or otherwise allow for project completion should be included in the list of authors publications or conference abstracts. We expect students, postdocs and junior scientists to be lead authors of the publications related to their respective projects. PIs should communicate authorship expectations or alternatives to this policy to participants in advance. We expect students, postdocs and junior scientists to be lead authors of the publications related to their respective projects.


Field Ethic 

Resource for field code of conduct and inclusivity tips

  • Incorporate Lamont Code of Conduct Annex 1
    • Expectations/roles of all participants and trip logistics should be outlined in a pre-trip meeting (held over Zoom if participants are at different institutions). To participate in fieldwork, you will also be part of determining the field logistics. 
  • Create an inclusive field environment where all participants feel ownership over the field season. Incorporate items in this article
    • Keep in mind that not everyone may feel comfortable or safe in particular cities, states, or countries due to racism, anti-LBGTQ+ sentiments, or gender-related norms or laws. We must be good allies for each other! 
    • Women who are pregnant or nursing will likely need extra water, rest stops, pumping breaks, and potentially a way to store/carry breastmilk
    • Disabilities should not preclude participation whenever possible; be creative and open-minded when planning inclusive trips
      • Ensure people feel comfortable and safe to disclose any disabilities that might affect field operations in advance.
  • Plan field campaigns keeping in mind the need for personal time, rest stops, differences in endurance or physical ability, and bodily functions
  • Communicate illnesses, injuries, or other issues to the PI/group leader; do not push yourself beyond what is safe
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks - this puts everyone in danger!
  • When applicable, ensure you have permission from property owners or the proper permits to collect/ship samples
  • Conduct a field party meeting before deployment:
    • Discuss risks/hazards of the particular site
    • Ensure all participants are given proper training (safety training, bystander intervention training, etc.)
    • Discuss the expectations and responsibilities of all participants
    • Ensure team members know who to report problems or harassment to (PI, someone outside the camp, etc.)
  • Use of alcohol/recreational substances:
    • Discuss with the entire field team before deployment whether or not alcohol, etc. will be available. If anyone is uncomfortable, run a dry camp
    • Every member is responsible for their behaviour; any overuse, putting oneself or others at risk, or harassment of team members will not be tolerated
  • Ensure participants have the ability to communicate with people outside of the field camp (someone to report problems to, and/or their family/support system, etc.). This can include satellite phone(s) and/or two-way satellite texting devices (i.e., Garmin InReach). 
  • Working with local communities and scientists:
  • See also: Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic (NSF) and other NSF Polar Programs policies


Conferences & Conference Presentations 

  • Students are encouraged to present to the group at least 2 weeks prior to a conference
  • Funding student conference travel: we strive for equal opportunities for all students with respect to conference travel, and internal funds could be made available for such equality reasons. The GSAS Conference Matching Travel Fund (they will match green money) and the Graduate Council Student Travel Grant you are pretty much guaranteed to get if you apply.
  • Send your poster/talk to your advisor/coauthors at least a few days prior to the conference
  • Allow co-authors adequate time to read/edit conference abstracts or materials before submission
  • At the conference, abide by the conference code of conduct, as well as the items in this document
  • If applicable, PIs should provide funding for childcare needs for conference attendees when possible
  • If organizing a workshop or conference, follow best practices for planning inclusive science meetings, see for example:
    • Be aware of religious/cultural holidays
    • Ensure a diverse list of invited speakers or panelists (e.g., no “manels”), as well as a diverse organizing committee
    • Organize events in locations in which members of underrepresented communities will be comfortable and safe
    • Ensure the venue is ADA compliant and accessible, with technology to aid people who are visually or hearing-impared (e.g., captioned talks, etc.)
    • Allow for virtual participation
    • Plan meeting events during regular working hours, with multiple breaks
    • Ensure there is an accessible lactation room and refrigerator, as well as enough breaks during the day for persons needing to pump (~20-30 mins every few hrs)
    • Organize childcare onsite or near to the venue if requested
    • Remember that some attendees may need “recharge time” away from social events; offer flexibility and do not overschedule


Expectations of PIs

  • See below for expectations of PIs mentoring students
  • Allow staff (hourly or salaried) and students to attend seminars or events of interest, including talks and DEI-focused events
  • Support/encourage mentees and staff to pursue career development opportunities (workshops, trainings, conferences, etc.)
  • Ensure that all project participants are aware of and adhere to the lab code of conduct
  • Ensure equitable access to the laboratory, instruments, software, etc. for all participants
  • Follow CU/LDEO policies for the management of funded projects
  • You will likely, and should, be on the committee for a grad student that is in the group, but whose primary advisor is one of the other PIs.


Expectations of Lab Staff (what group members & visitors can expect from us)

  • Ensure safety in the lab - training new students, visitors, etc.
  • Welcoming students & visitors to the lab, introducing them to chemistry for perhaps the first time
  • Lab staff work together respectfully to coordinate tasks & goals for the group
  • Communicate within the research group about student, postdoc, and visitor progress, potential problems that may arise, and ideas on how to solve them
  • Lab staff are supervisors in regard to lab work: everyone should follow the guidance of the lab staff


Expectations of Postdocs 

  • Lead submission of collaborative papers and/or proposals with other members of the group
  • Submit a NSF or equivalent proposal as lead PI.
  • Aid in the mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students as appropriate, subject to the expectations in the section “Expectations of PhD mentors.” This can look like: 
    • Being available, particularly to graduate students, to provide input and guidance on abstracts, papers, research questions, and general discussions
    • Day-to-day interactions with others working in the same lab
    • Hiring an undergraduate intern or REU student to work through existing programs at Lamont/EI


Expectations of Postdoc Mentors

  • Support postdocs to navigate the process of submitting an NSF or equivalent proposal as lead PI. 
  • Work with the postdoc to establish a mentoring committee during the first 6 months of their appointment who can regularly meet with the postdoc to provide input and feedback on research, career paths, etc. 
  • Work with postdocs to understand their career goals/interests and provide them with opportunities for professional development that support that. This can look like:
    • Working closely with PhD students on a chapter or project 
    • Having an intern or REU student
    • Guest lecturing in classes, summer schools, etc.
  • Review manuscripts and funding applications on a timeline agreed upon with the postdoc, e.g. within two weeks of receiving them. 


Expectations of PhD Mentors

  • Ensure students have 12 months of salary support, including backstop by DEES. 
    • Be transparent with students about the benefits of external fellowships for salary stability, and work with them to create competitive fellowship proposals early on in their degree (see Expectations of PhD Students)
  • Take responsibility for envisioning projects for PhD students that are realistically completable on a five-to-six-year timeline
  • Strive to provide at least one field experience for any interested student (see also Field ethic)
  • Support students in building a diverse set of skills. These can include lab work (primary), coding, numerical modeling, field skills, field planning, remote sensing, modern processes/future projections, teaching, leadership
  • Help students develop a research plan and check in about milestones/goals on a regular basis (e.g. at least every semester). Give feedback to students about their progress/work so they can grow and learn
    • Be aware of and/or coordinate with Kaleigh to make sure students are hitting educational/curricular milestones
  • Review manuscripts and funding applications on a timeline agreed upon with the student, e.g. within two weeks of receiving them. Feedback should be appropriate for the draft. For example, provide broader structural comments on the first draft of a manuscript and save line edits for later drafts.
  • Write recommendation letters that do not have implicit gender bias. If you cannot write the student a strong letter, tell them. (Bias calculator) Consider sharing your letter with other mentors of the student in support of this goal.
  • Provide support for post-PhD plans, whether that be in academia (help make connections, review application materials, write recommendation letters) or outside academia (allow students to explore other career paths via internship, etc.)
  • Encourage students to build networks of mentors beyond the main PI(s). Aid students in networking with colleagues outside of their main research group or institution. This can look like:
    • Supporting students on their path toward independence and toward an early leadership profile that is different from that of the supervisor
    • Considering who is on a student’s committee at Lamont and having a breadth of divisions/expertise represented
    • Sending student to interdisciplinary meetings, or to work with collaborators with different facilities and/or expertise for short research stays
  • Treat all students fairly and provide similar, equitable opportunities for all of your mentees responsive to their individual interests, needs and goals
  • Provide funding for conference travel and registration for the three conferences that students are expected to present at during their PhD (see number 6 of “Expectations of PhD Students”)
  • Communicate proactively with mentees about commitments within a one-year time frame (e.g. fieldwork, leave) that will impact turnaround time for feedback
  • Devote one hour per week in your schedule which is for meeting with or thinking about your mentee and their progress


Expectations of PhD Students

  • Communicate with your advisor when issues arise which impact progress.
  • Build a research plan that complements the DEES milestone map: Work with your advisor to create a five-to-six-year plan for your research that includes clearly defined milestones. Break it down into weeks, months, or semesters as appropriate to set achievable goals, and keep your advisor filled in on your progress. 
  • Expect to complete your PhD on a five-to-six-year timeline and make progress towards project goals accordingly. 
  • In Year 1 or 2, write a fellowship or grant application. This will provide an opportunity for you to build a writing process with your PhD advisor early on. 
  • Send drafts of fellowship/grant applications, manuscripts, etc to your advisor/coauthors with enough time before the deadline for them to give you feedback (at least two weeks). Make sure to work out the timeline with your advisor and be mindful of their schedule (e.g., field seasons, end of the semester).
  • During their PhD, students should plan to present at AGU at least once, a smaller workshop at least once (e.g.,  Arctic Workshop, Antarctic Earth Sciences Meeting), and one other large conference (e.g., GSA, EGU, Goldschmidt). 


Expectations of Undergraduate Students

  • Ask questions when you don’t understand (unless you could get the answer from a quick google search)
  • Be present in group settings and communicate about concerns. Communicate with supervisor(s) about lab work. 
  • Be aware of and adhere to the lab code of conduct
  • Learn and understand all safety protocols and dangers for the chemicals, procedures and equipment you will be working with, in addition to taking all required safety classes.
  • Take care of yourself: your physical and mental health is paramount.


Expectations of Visitors/Visiting Students & the Host

  • Make sure that you are responsive to the visitors prior to their arrival, especially regarding administrative requests. Visitors need to plan ahead many weeks or even months, both at home and with respect to their stay at Lamont (e.g. accommodation, visa applications, etc.). In this process, it is helpful to have a reliable partner at the destination of the research visit.
  • Make sure that the visitor has your contact information where you can be reached in case of an emergency before, during and potentially also after the visitor’s arrival. 
  • Offer assistance in finding housing
  • Regarding first time visitors: Make sure that they know how the shuttle system works and inform them on how to obtain the Columbia ID card: (Morningside, Kent Building). 

  • Welcome visitors at Lamont and introduce them to fellow cosmo group members
  • Introduce visitors to Moanna and Arlene, who will help them with administrative tasks, e.g. office space, keys, etc. 
  • Visitors are expected to be full participants in the lab.
  • Check in with your visitors regularly and try to help them make the most of their stay in Lamont.


For visitors that need a J-1 visa:

General information on the J-1 visa:

For detailed, step by step information, see section “How to Sponsor a J-1 Visiting Scholar” in:

Lamont’s Human Resources Department (Dominique Young) and the Columbia’s International Office will guide the visitor through the process until he/she/they obtains a visa.

The host is responsible for:

  1. The specific start and end date of the stay. 
  2. Confirmation of the funding (min. USD $2,800 per month)
  3. Obtaining the visitor’s CV 
  4. Obtaining an appointment letter for the visitor. 
  5. Sending funding letter and CV to the HR director (Virgina Maher) and Geochemistry Associate Director (Gisela Winckler)
  6. Visitor’s reporting of his/her/their arrival at Lamont (both online and in person at Lamont’s Human Resources Office). 

Student fellowship opportunities and points of contact for guidance

  • NSF GRFP -Allie Balter-Kennedy, Benjamin
  • NASA Fellowship -Josh Maurer (although he is off email right now)
  • Fulbright  -Carly Peltier and Mike K
  • GSAS Teaching scholars-teach your very own class! I’m happy to share my application and Glacial Geomorphology course materials with you -Carly Peltier
  • National Geographic Early Career grant small grant for field work-Carly Peltier 
  • Geo Society of America Student Grant. - Nicolás Young, Allie Balter-Kennedy, Tess Walther, Benjamin Keisling


Lab Code of Conduct

  • Everyone working in a lab has to take and is responsible for taking  all relevant safety training classes (in person or online) as required by the University.
  • In addition to the safety classes, learn and understand all safety protocols and dangers for each specific chemical, procedure, or equipment you will work with. Read the Safety Data Sheets (SDS)!
  • Participating in routine lab maintenance is expected. The lab only works if the entire team maintains and helps out in the lab. Assistance in lab maintenance and cleanliness even if not directly related to your individual specific project is expected. 
  • Watch out for your colleagues in the lab. If you see something that doesn’t look safe, say something. If you think someone doesn’t understand something, ask and offer assistance. It is always better to offer unneeded assistance than to assume a person already knows everything. 
  • Coordinate with the lab staff, Roseanne & Jean, to plan your projects ahead of time!


The following signatories agree to uphold and update this document:

Allie Balter-Kennedy

Bryn Stecher

Carly Peltier

Jennifer Lamp

Tess Walther

Nicolas young

Michael Kaplan

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This document was inspired in part by documents from other groups:

Tamera Pico, UCSC

Ryan Abernathy, Columbia