Director’s Blog 6/11/19

Director’s Blog June 11, 2019
By Ian Billick, PhD

It’s been a mad rush to get RMBL open. With 100+ people living in Gothic, it’s hard to remember that 8 days ago is when we could start driving and we had to traverse snowbanks to get to buildings and outhouses. Here are some quick impressions/updates.

Because I know people really care— we had an internet outage for about an hour on Monday, June 10th. Unlike previous outages that involved the entirecounty, this involved a failed uninterruptible power supply (yes, I’m aware of the irony) in Gothic. We are making some changes that will hopefully make things more robust! We have plans to transition to a new internet service provider the last week of June. There may be some short outages associated with that. We’ll keep the community posted. Assuming the transition goes well, the bandwidth to Gothic will jump more than an order of magnitude. I promise not to start writing longer blogs.

We only have water to a handful of cabins, the shower house, the GRC and Johnson Lab, and the community center. The work crew is moving pretty quickly to get it going, but not only has access to the townsite been late because of the snow, but it has also been colder! Many of our pipes are above ground and if we open them too soon, they freeze. Barring an onslaught of the Gothic gremlins (they are both ingenious and persistent), we expect to have potable water everywhere early next week. I know it is inconvenient, but hey, global warming should solve that problem in the future…

The students have largely arrived and it is a great bunch. Rosemary Smith has now been running the program for a full year. She oversaw it last summer with Rachel Steward, but this spring was the first time she handled admissions. She brings great energy to the program and we’re very fortunate to have her (and Jimmy Lee) running herd. Having her oversee the program has allowed Jennie to provide more science support.

I just submitted a proposal to NSF’s Field Station and Marine Lab program to develop a spatial modeling platform that would enable us to provide you a series of fine-scale microclimate estimates (e.g., snowmelt date) linked to your research sites. The work would involve a mixture of sensors (a series of micromet stations), drone data collection, and integration with satelliteimagery. We have requested salary for half the costs of a postdoc for four years. If funded, the intent is to add a position full-time with the additional time being dedicated to research support and related research. Staffing is a complicated topic, and feel free to shoot me questions. We’d like to provide more science support (particularly around informatics and spatial modeling), handle a growing and diversifying research community, and create redundancy on Jennie’s position as Science Director.

The North Village parcel in Mt. CB, the 160 acres on the west side of the road, across from the CBMR maintenance shop where the road turns from pavedto gravel, and including the horse stables, has officially sold. We have been talking with the purchaser and with the sale, things will start to get serious. I expect to know more by the end of July. At the spring meeting, RMBL’s Board put the focus on housing. Housing costs in CB are crazy. If we don’t address staff housing, the cost of operating RMBL will sky rocket. Also, we have lots of scientists living offsite and they are struggling to line up affordable housing. We also see North Village as an opportunity to get a handle on recreational pressure on research (e.g., a Mt. CB Visitor’s Center and transit center), as well to better support research, education, and outreach year-round. Now is the time to let us know what you think!

Jennie and I look forward to meeting new scientists and catching up with old friends! Let me know if this blog posts spurs any questions. And if you have topics you would like to see me blog about, let me know.