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Research in the Rockies

by Jordana Torres

Clint Valen­tine is always searching for his next big adven­ture. He’s already built up an impres­sive col­lec­tion of domestic and inter­na­tional expe­ri­ences by biking across the country for charity and par­tic­i­pating in a geo­logic field study in Ice­land. Most recently, he spent a summer col­lecting envi­ron­mental data in the Col­orado Rockies.

“I’ve been an adven­turous type since my days as a Boy Scout,” said Valen­tine, a fourth-​​year stu­dent who is majoring in biology and envi­ron­mental sci­ence. “I’ve gone on a trip every summer since starting col­lege, and I plan to keep that tra­di­tion going for as long as I can.”

clint valentine

Clint Valentine stands at the base of Mt. Evans. Courtesy photo.

Valen­tine com­pleted his first extreme feat in 2009 as a high school stu­dent, when he embarked on a five-​​month bicy­cling journey from the east– to west coast to raise money for the Susan G. Koman Fund. In the summer of 2012, Valen­tine par­tic­i­pated in a Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram to Ice­land. There, he embarked on the quin­tes­sen­tial science-​​meets-​​nature adven­ture, where he got his first taste of field research.

On his most recent endeavor, Valen­tine spent the summer cycling more than 600 miles around Col­orado. This included climbing more than 40,000 feet on heavily loaded touring bikes with his long-​​time friend Rob DeBruyn, who teaches music at a Ver­mont middle school. Valen­tine and DeBruyn teamed up with Adven­turers and Sci­en­tists for Con­ser­va­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties for out­door enthu­si­asts to make a dif­fer­ence by con­ducting research on their explorations.

The duo par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral ASC projects during their expe­di­tion, which included col­lecting obser­va­tions on wildlife, road kill, and pika, a small mammal with short limbs and rounded ears. The valu­able data they col­lected went directly to an expan­sive set of researchers, who use the infor­ma­tion to make man­age­ment and con­ser­va­tion deci­sions. For example, the wildlife obser­va­tions help researchers under­stand threats that land-​​use and cli­mate change pose to many species, and how these ani­mals are changing in response to these threats.

“I wanted to do more for sci­ence while in Col­orado,” explained Valen­tine. “ASC tai­lored our projects around our itinerary.”

The next adven­ture on his to-​​do list: Biking the Silk Road, a 4,000-mile route from Europe to China. The trip will most likely take six-​​to-​​12 months, but Valen­tine is looking for­ward to the long-​​distance trek.

“When you con­sider cycling across a con­ti­nent, you look for a grand path to follow,” said Valen­tine. “I’m looking for­ward to climbing cliffs no one has climbed before and enjoying the exten­sive his­tory along the path.”

Originally published in news@Northeastern on October 23, 2013

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