Published author and environmental scientist Hollis Weber credits Upper Iowa University with exposing him to the possibilities for an environmental science major. Now at EarthView Environmental, Coralville, Iowa, Weber works with his colleagues to provide expertise in land use and natural resources planning to municipalities, land use planners, developers and individual homeowners through the regulatory compliance process and provides planning, innovative design options, funding options and project implementation and monitoring.
Weber, an Anamosa, Iowa, native, enrolled in Upper Iowa University in 2002 intent on playing midfield for the UIU Peacock men’s soccer team. As with most college students, he was putting himself through school, and had to take a year off due to financial reasons. He then attended Kirkwood Community College part-time, and with Upper Iowa’s disciplined-focused articulation options, was able to get back to where he started – and where he wanted to be.
Weber chose to major in environmental science because he wanted to be in a profession where he could be outdoors, instead of behind a desk. The summer before his senior year, he had the opportunity to work with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources conducting water quality testing at its parks beaches to determine E.coli levels and if it would be safe for the public to swim in the parks. That experience was a jumping off point for his senior research project where he collected water samples at Volga State Park lake to test for E. coli levels. Through this, he determined if a beach was constructed there, the bacteria levels would be low enough for the park to keep the beach open.
With his bachelor’s of science degree from Upper Iowa University, Weber chose the University of Wyoming-Laramie for its traditional master’s program. There, he focused on rangeland ecology and watershed management (now ‘Ecosystem Management’) with an emphasis in water resources.
With a solid foundation of knowledge from Upper Iowa and his undergraduate research experience, Weber said he was a much better candidate for the master’s program. His work in GIS at Upper Iowa, as well as experience presenting research to a crowd were very helpful as he took on more rigorous topics and intense research opportunities.
Weber’s paper, Instantaneous Capture and Mineralization of Flue Gas Carbon Dioxide: Pilot Scale Study (Reddy, KJ, Weber, Hollis, Bhattacharyya, Pradip, Morris, Argyle, Taylor, David, Christensen, Mikol, Foulke, Thomas, and Fahlsing, Paul), was published in Nature Precedings.
“There were four professors, one in renewable resources, one in chemical engineering, two in economics, one post-doctoral student in renewable resources and one master student in economics associated with this project,” said Weber. “The economists were looking into the feasibility of retrofitting this system onto already existent coal-fired plants. My focus was to get the pilot scale testing equipment built, installed at the plant and running properly. I also did multiple runs to test the effects of different moisture percentages entrained in the flue gas and how that affected the levels of carbon dioxide remaining in the flue gas after its reaction with fly ash. The project, called Seques Tech, is still ongoing, and has resulted in a few patents”
With EarthView Environmental, Weber is now making a positive impact through wetland restoration – a topic on which he is both knowledgeable and passionate. “If you destroy one, you can’t just go out and buy another,” he said. “In the past 150 years we have drained over 90 percent of our (Iowa) wetlands for agriculture or development. A wetland is like a sponge, so if we had more, we wouldn’t see as much flooding as we do. They’re among the most diverse of all natural communities in Iowa and filter sediment and organic wastes, which impact our water quality as well.”