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Clarkson University Students Win Epa “Biodiesel” Grant

[A photograph for newspaper use is available at]

Four Clarkson science and engineering students have received notice from the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) that the proposal they submitted for the EPA’s P3 Award program was winner of a $10,000 grant. The students are Anirban Ghosh ‘07, majoring in Environmental Science and Policy; Erica A. Gonyo ’06, majoring in Industrial Hygiene; Hope Matis ’07, majoring in Chemical Engineering; and Matthew R. Williams ‘07, majoring in Biology.EPA Award

P3 is a partnership between the public and private sectors to achieve the mutual goals of economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet and providing a higher quality of life for its people. Through the partnership, grants are provided to teams of college students to research, develop, and design sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. P3 highlights “people, prosperity, and the planet” ─ the three pillars of sustainability ─ as the next step beyond P2 or “pollution prevention.”

Clarkson’s proposal titled “Biodiesel as a Sustainable Alternative to Petroleum Diesel in School Buses” was selected by the EPA for funding during the 2005 - 2006 school year. 

Diesel exhaust is potentially harmful to human health and is a significant pollutant, yet few people have studied children’s exposure to these fumes. The Clarkson team will examine the use of biodiesel as an alternative replacement fuel for school buses operating in the rural, cold climate of northern New York. As part of the project, biodiesel and diesel emission concentrations will be monitored onboard and near school buses at Potsdam Elementary School. From the data collected, the team hopes to be able to provide information on the range of children’s exposure to diesel and biodiesel emissions.

“The study has potentially rewarding benefits,” comments Andrea Ferro, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson and one of the group’s advisors. “With our current dependence on diminishing oil resources, businesses are looking for ways to find a renewable, cost effective fuel.”

Biodiesel is a sustainable alternative fuel that can be locally produced and can both reduce emissions and produce emissions with less toxic components than petroleum-based fuels. The Clarkson study will also help determine if biodiesel could have a significant economic impact on future development of Potsdam and the surrounding region.

Alan Rossner, assistant professor of Biology and Industrial Hygiene, and Susan Powers, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the Coulter School of Engineering and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, also advised the Clarkson team. Roshan Jachuck, professor of Chemical Engineering, and additional Clarkson students will be joining the research project team this year. In the spring of 2006, Clarkson and the other teams that have received grants will be invited to Washington, D.C., to present their findings to a panel of judges from the National Academies of Science and Engineering. Winning teams will receive further funding for design development and implementation.

Rossner and Powers will hold an informational meeting for students interested in becoming involved in the P3 project on Tuesday, September 6, at 5:30 p.m. in the Science Center, Room 176A (pizza and soda will be served).

Clarkson University is a private, nationally ranked university attracting enterprising, high-ability scholars from diverse backgrounds who thrive in a rigorous, collaborative learning environment.  Learning is in a positive, friendly and supportive atmosphere that spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. Faculty pursues research and connects students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving. The University enrolls 3,000 students.

PHOTO CAPTION:  Clarkson University students Erica Gonyo, Anirban Ghosh, Hope Matis, and Matthew R. Williams have received a $10,000 grant from the EPA to study biodiesel as a sustainable alternative to petroleum diesel in school buses.” The student’s proposal was a winner in the EPA’s P3 Award program. Shown in the front row are students Erica Gonyo, Anirban Ghosh, and Hope Matis. In the back row (left to right) are Clarkson faculty members Alan Rossner, Andrea Ferro, Susan Powers, Matthew Williams (student), and Roshan Jachuck.
[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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