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Measuring our carbon footprint

RIVERSIDE, Calif. All of us contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. But there are ways to reduce our carbon emissions. How we travel, what we eat, what we consume and what we discard are just some of the factors that contribute to our carbon footprint. How, though, do we measure our impact on our climate?

The public has an opportunity to find out on April 26, when Louis S. Santiago, an assistant professor of physiological ecology at the University of California, Riverside, will give a free lecture on campus in which he will explain how a person's carbon footprint can be computed.

His hour-long lecture is titled "Earth 101: What's Your Carbon Footprint?" It will begin at 6 p.m. in Rooms D-E, University Extension Center (UNEX).

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Seating is open. Parking at UNEX will be free for lecture attendees.

"As with most questions, 'What is your carbon footprint?' has a short answer and a long answer," Santiago said. "I will explore both of these, and give examples of how our actions are linked to global processes. The bottom line is we can all do something to reduce our carbon footprint."

Santiago received his Ph.D. in botany at the University of Florida in 2003. Three years later, he joined UC Riverside, where he is a faculty member in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and co-director of the Facility for Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry.

His research is focused on the connection between plants and their environment. One primary research interest of his is how plant functional traits are the result of resource availability, and how these traits feed back into ecosystem processes.

"My lab measures photosynthetic carbon uptake by leaves, so you could say I work on the carbon footprint of leaves," he said.

Last year, Santiago was awarded the USDA E. Kika de la Garza Fellowship to work in Washington, D.C. on challenges faced in the development of a well prepared Hispanic workforce. Other distinctions include appointment as a research associate with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and awards from the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Bureau of Land Management.

This year's lecture series, titled "Earth 101: What You Need to Know About Life on Our Planet," aims to boost the public's awareness and understanding of science and of how scientists work.

Santiago's lecture will be introduced by John Robertson, a physical science teacher in the Riverside Unified School District.

The talks are being hosted by UCR's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and the Science Circle, a group of university and community members committed to advancing science in Inland Southern California.


Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California - Riverside

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