I was a post doc at TU Vienna and working on a method for determining organic and black carbon in small atmospheric aerosol samples. At a meeting in Zurich I met Prof. Don Leyden from Denver University and he was very interested in implementing the method at his lab for determining the organic carbon in oil shale samples. It was just after the first (1973) oil crisis when oil prices were at highs making the exploitation of shale oil commercially feasible. Exploration drills at sites in Colorado were producing a large number of samples for analysis, at a time when no fast method for the carbon determination was available.
Thus, I was invited for a 6 month term at DU - a post doc semester which was made possible by a Fulbright travel grant. The method was installed and tested. It allowed analyzing large sample amounts since a determination took only about 5 minutes. My professor was very happy with the results and since there was time left I was invited for a wonderful and unforgettable trip to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. After the end of my stay at DU I spent 4 vacation weeks in the west, visiting the Aerosol Research Group of Dr. Novakov at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, and performing a round trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Circle including Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Mesa Verde, Arches National Park, Brice Canyon and Zion National Park.
Prof. Leyden and Dr. Novakov became lifelong friends and I repeatedly visited them in the US or met at meetings. The contacts to Dr. Novakov brought further fruitful cooperations, between European and US scientists in the fields of fog chemistry and heterogeneous atmospheric chemical reactions and resulted in a conference series "International Conference of Carbonaceous Particulate Matter" held in three years intervals in USA and Austria.
The Fulbright‐Assisted US trip at the age of 26 was of high importance for my further career. The scientific method, the way of presentations, and the work intensity, differed from my European experiences and at the end there were clearly positive influences from both sides.
In the current wave of EU research funding a cessation of the Fulbright grants for Europe‐US exchange would be extremely counterproductive for cooperation of European and US scientists. In my experiences European cooperations were very interesting, but the cooperation with US groups were exciting. I think a cessation of the Fulbright grants would be a dramatic shortcoming as both sides took advantages of the cooperations in many fields. In my view the ending of Fulbright grants with Europe would be a further sign of the decline of governmental interest in high quality international research.
Hans Puxbaum was an Austrian Fulbright Scholar in chemistry to the University of Denver, Colorado in 1977–78. Photo courtesy of Hans Puxbaum.