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Clean Air Now Founder Honored

UC Riverside Announces the Robert M. Zweig, M.D. Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Future doctors studying at UC Riverside will receive a legacy from a local physician

(October 22, 2003)

Robert Zweig

Robert Zweig

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (Oct. 20, 2003) -- The friends of the late Robert M. Zweig, the co-founder of Clean Air Now, will present $25,000 to endow a memorial scholarship to go to students in the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences.

A ceremony to celebrate the scholarship will be held 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, November 9, in room B107 of the Pentland Hills Residence Hall at UC Riverside. Superior Court Judge Charles Field will serve as master of ceremonies, interim Dean Craig Byus, and Biomed Advisory Board Chairman Dr. Thomas Haider will accept the check from representatives of Clean Air Now. There also will be a short video celebrating Dr. Zweig's life and contributions to the community. His widow, Dolores, will also attend.

When Dr. Zweig passed away in February, 2002, a number of friends sent donations in his memory to Clean Air Now (CAN), the environmental group he helped organize years ago. They are dedicated to hydrogen power as an alternative fuel source to help clean the air in the Inland Empire. After consulting with Mrs. Zweig, they decided to establish the Robert M. Zweig, M.D. Memorial Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship will be given to a deserving medical student each year in the UCR Biomed Program. Because it typically takes at least a year for an endowed fund to begin producing income, it is anticipated that the first Zweig Scholarship will be given in the spring of 2005.

Zweig, who once drank from the exhaust pipe of a hydrogen-powered pickup truck to demonstrate that clean water is a byproduct of the clean-burning fuel, was a passionate champion for clean air, and especially for the potential of hydrogen fuels. "He was a visionary advocate for hydrogen in transportation," said James Lents, director of the Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development at UC Riverside. Lents first met Zweig in the late '80s when Lents was executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

"He was very active in the process of helping to find funding and to get agencies like the South Coast Air Quality Management District, SunLine Transit Agency in the desert and the university here to take a serious look at hydrogen and do some experimenting with it," Lents said.

Zweig himself traced his concern with air pollution to seeing patients with respiratory problems. He co-founded Clean Air Now in 1969. He brought one of the country's first hydrogen-powered buses to Riverside in the mid-1970s. In the '80s, he donated several thousand dollars to help buy a hydrogen-powered pickup, which he gave to UC Riverside's College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT). Through his personal vehicle ownership and through his advocacy, he championed the use of alternate fuel vehicles, and in this demonstrated his commitment to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

In June of 2000, he received the Jules Verne Award for lifetime contribution to hydrogen energy development at the 13th World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Beijing.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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