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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 23, 2005

UI Student Travels To Colorado Environmental Meeting By Bicycle, Train

When University of Iowa graduate engineering student Elliott Campbell begins a Saturday, Sept. 24 trip to present his research findings at the International Carbon Dioxide Conference in Broomfield, Colo., he hopes to minimize the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases he adds to the atmosphere.

That's because he plans to travel by bicycle and train, instead of by automobile and airplane.

"It's a unique trip," said Campbell, "because it satisfies the environmental principals that motivate our group's research and our need to communicate with other scientists."

Campbell, a member of the UI chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), will begin the bicycle phase of his trip from the grounds of Earth Expo, an environmental and alternative energy festival, being held from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday in the UI's Hubbard Park. His trip will involve 200 miles of bicycling and include a ride on Amtrak's California Zephyr route. Ultimately, Campbell plans to attend the conference and present results from an atmospheric chemistry model that he used to analyze measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide and related gases made from a NASA DC-8 airplane.

Whatever else the trip may achieve, Campbell and his colleagues believe it should strive to minimize the amount of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere.

"This trip will result in about 70 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than a similar trip by airplane," said Marcelo Mena, fellow UI graduate student and ESW member. Mena and other ESW members calculate that carbon dioxide emissions resulting from travel by all of the conference's attendees (some 380 people are expected to attend) at 170 tons of carbon. In order to lessen the carbon output, conference organizers can purchase carbon credits that offset conference emissions through projects that reduce fossil fuel consumption and/or preserve natural habitat. In this case, Mena indicates that carbon credits would cost about $1,800 if purchased through various European companies.

Mena said that the environmental benefits of the trip will send an important message to scientists. "Sometimes researchers believe they are working towards the betterment of humanity, but the way we carry out our research, be it lab materials wasted or long distances traveled, does not always reflect our motivation to protect the environment," he said.

Campbell and Mena work with professors Greg Carmichael, Jerry Schnoor and Charlie Stanier at the University of Iowa College of Engineering's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research ( ESW conducts local and international projects that combine environmental and social benefits. Further information about ESW can be found at: Additional information about Campbell's trip can be found by contacting him at either 3198-335-3695 or

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,