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In the summer of 2014, 87 Princeton undergraduates affiliated with the

Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) held environmental assignments including positions


with faculty-led research projects and as interns with NGOS, government, industry, and
academic enterprises around the globe.
From their collective backgrounds in 17 academic disciplines, the 2014 summer interns
addressed scientific, technical, policy, and human dimensions of global environmental
problems. Students benefitted from strong ties to the Grand Challenges Program an
integrated research and teaching program designed to address critical global environmental
issues for the 21st century. Students explored a broad range of topics including: changing
climate and its environmental impacts; energy technologies; environmental science,
monitoring and policy; innovations in sustainability; and environmental education and
outreach.
Students travelled to internship destinations in 20 foreign countries, 8 American states and
the District of Columbia. Seventy-five (75) students held positions with faculty-led research
projects. Several students work contributed to the development of new technologies and
models. Others published journal articles and, in many instances, student summer experiences
are serving as the foundation for continuing research and academic study.
This booklet provides an overview of each students assignment as experienced through
the 2014 internship program. The diversity of students backgrounds, talents, interests, and
contributions is evident in the summary descriptions of their projects and experiences.

For more information, please contact us via e-mail at peintern@princeton.edu.

INDEX OF ALL INTERNS ALPHABETICALLY


Aubree Andres 17......................73
EJ Baik 16......................................40
Colleen Baker 16.......................... 6
Raymond Bartolucci 17............. 7
Scott Bechler 17......................... 41
Eric Bolton 15................................ 8
Conleigh Byers 15......................42
Ethan Campbell 16...................... 9
Alison Campion 16.................... 10
Joan Cannon 15.........................43
Elliot Chang 16............................44
Emily Chen 17.............................45
Tiffany Cheung 15.....................46
Carol Chiu 16...............................47
Benjamin Culver 16................... 74
Bristee Das 16..............................48
Alex Dominguez 16.................. 11
Jacob Eisenberg 16................... 12
Allen Fang 17...............................49
Atleigh Forden 16...................... 13
Jesse Goodman 17....................50
Katie Grabowski 16...................75
Kevin Griffin 17........................... 14
Abby Grosskopf 17.................... 51
Devansh Gupta 17.....................76
Stacey Huang 16........................52
Brendan Hung 17.......................77
Corrie Kavanaugh 17................ 15
Elijah Kolmes 15.........................53
Matteo Kruijssen 16.................. 16

Haley Lane 16..............................78


Nicholas Lavrov 15....................54
Suk Yung (Mike) Lee 16............ 17
Amanda Li 16.............................. 18
Weimen Li 17............................... 19
Andrew Licini 16........................20
Jonathan Lin 17..........................55
Jessica Luo 15..............................79
Dee Luo 16...................................80
Daniel Ma 17................................56
Jason Manley 17......................... 21
Dayton Martindale 15..............81
Ryan McNellis 15........................57
Alana Miller 15............................58
Jacob Miller 15............................59
Taylor Morgan 16.......................82
Ahmed Musse 17.......................22
Rachel Myers 15.........................60
Derek Ou 15................................. 61
Anchal Padukone 16.................83
Annelies Paine 16......................84
Kevin Pardinas 16......................62
Eric Principato 16.......................23
Austin Pruitt 17...........................63
Sarah Sacco 16............................64
Natalie Saenz 15.........................24
Kasturi Shah 16...........................25
Kasturi Shah 16...........................65
Emily Shuldiner 16....................66
Zoe Sims 17..................................26

Stephen Soerens 15..................27


Marcus Spiegel 17.....................85
Levi Stanton 15...........................67
Connor Stonesifer 16................28
Michelle-Ann Tan 16.................29
Rebecca Terrett 16....................68
Adrian Tasistro-Hart 17............30
Sol Taubin 16............................... 31
Aditya Trivedi 16........................69
Joshua Umanksy-Castro 17...32
Matthew Walsh 15.....................70
Olivia Watson 15........................71
Alex Wheatley 16.......................86
Adam Yabroudi 15.....................33
Helen Yang 15.............................87
Vivian Yao 17...............................34
Young Yi 17..................................35
Bridget Zakrzewski 17..............36
Rka Zemplni 16......................37
Jennifer Zhao 16........................38
Katherine Zhao 17.....................88
Angela Zhou 16..........................39
Jack Zhou 15................................72

INDEX OF PROJECTS BY CATEGORY


Sustainability
Colleen Baker 16.......................... 6
Raymond Bartolucci 17............. 7
Eric Bolton 15................................ 8
Ethan Campbell 16...................... 9
Alison Campion 16.................... 10
Alex Dominguez 16.................. 11
Jacob Eisenberg 16................... 12
Atleigh Forden 16...................... 13
Kevin Griffin 17........................... 14
Corrie Kavanaugh 17................ 15
Matteo Kruijssen 16.................. 16
Suk Yung (Mike) Lee 16............ 17
Amanda Li 16.............................. 18
Weimen Li 17............................... 19
Andrew Licini 16........................20
Jason Manley 17......................... 21
Ahmed Musse 17.......................22
Eric Principato 16.......................23
Natalie Saenz 15.........................24
Kasturi Shah 16...........................25
Zoe Sims 17..................................26
Stephen Soerens 15..................27
Connor Stonesifer 16................28
Michelle-Ann Tan 16.................29
Adrian Tasistro-Hart 17............30
Sol Taubin 16............................... 31
Joshua Umanksy-Castro 17...32
Adam Yabroudi 15.....................33

Vivian Yao 17...............................34


Young Yi 17..................................35
Bridget Zakrzewski 17..............36
Rka Zemplni 16......................37
Jennifer Zhao 16........................38
Angela Zhou 16..........................39

Climate & Energy


EJ Baik 16......................................40
Scott Bechler 17......................... 41
Conleigh Byers 15......................42
Joan Cannon 15.........................43
Elliot Chang 16............................44
Emily Chen 17.............................45
Tiffany Cheung 15.....................46
Carol Chiu 16...............................47
Bristee Das 16..............................48
Allen Fang 17...............................49
Jesse Goodman 17....................50
Abby Grosskopf 17.................... 51
Stacey Huang 16........................52
Elijah Kolmes 15.........................53
Nicholas Lavrov 15....................54
Jonathan Lin 17..........................55
Daniel Ma 17................................56
Ryan McNellis 15........................57
Alana Miller 15............................58
Jacob Miller 15............................59
Rachel Myers 15.........................60
Derek Ou 15................................. 61

Kevin Pardinas 16......................62


Austin Pruitt 17...........................63
Sarah Sacco 16............................64
Kasturi Shah 16...........................65
Emily Shuldiner 16....................66
Levi Stanton 15...........................67
Rebecca Terrett 16....................68
Aditya Trivedi 16........................69
Matthew Walsh 15.....................70
Olivia Watson 15........................71
Jack Zhou 15................................72

Development
Aubree Andres 17......................73
Benjamin Culver 16................... 74
Katie Grabowski 16...................75
Devansh Gupta 17.....................76
Brendan Hung 17.......................77
Haley Lane 16..............................78
Jessica Luo 15..............................79
Dee Luo 16...................................80
Dayton Martindale 15..............81
Taylor Morgan 16.......................82
Anchal Padukone 16.................83
Annelies Paine 16......................84
Marcus Spiegel 17.....................85
Alex Wheatley 16.......................86
Helen Yang 15.............................87
Katherine Zhao 17.....................88

Sustainability
SUSTAINABILITY

Colleen Baker 16
Anthropology

Project:
Catch Share Design Center Fisheries Research
Organization/Location:
Environmental Defense Fund,
San Francisco, CA
Adviser(s):
Kate Bonzon, Environmental Defense Fund

Globally, 87% of assessed fish stocks are either overexploited or fully exploited. Overfishing
is pushing our oceans to a breaking point. The Environmental Defense Fund advocates
catch shares as a solution to this problem. A management technique that financially
incentivizes sustainable fishing, catch shares have proven incredibly successful. My work
with the Catch Share Design Center focused on area-based catch shares, or territorial use
rights for fishing (TURFs), where fishermen are allocated an area of fishing grounds and are
held accountable for sustainably fishing the stock within that space. I was involved with
database entry, research, and writing briefs on different catch share programs globally,
and each taught me more and more about the important connection between culture
and environmental action. I learned that solutions which are built from the bottom up are
much more effective than those that are forced upon a culture; and as an anthropology
major, this opened many research doors for me. This internship has given me new skills, like
policy and governance analysis, data management and quality assurance, and a desire
to pursue a career in implementing sustainable solutions.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Raymond Bartolucci 17

Chemical and Biological Engineering


Project:
Field Geological Study of the Evolution of Life,
Climate, Magmatism, and Geography
Organization/Location:
Maloof Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Namibia
Adviser(s):
Adam Maloof, Professor, Geosciences; Blair
Schoene, Professor, Geosciences

The two principle goals of our field research group were to collect geological samples of
hard-bodied Ediacaran fossils (specifically Cloudina) for three-dimensional morphological
analysis back at Princeton, and to observe the context in which these samples were found,
in order to gain an understanding of the climatic environment in which these organisms
lived. We contextualized the samples we took from two primary sites in southern Namibia
by taking stratigraphic sections, creating digital elevation models through drone flights, and
mapping the thrombolitic reefs in which Cloudina fossils were found. By being in the field
for two months, I developed keen skills of observation and a better understanding of how
different rocks formed and what different features may indicate about the paleoclimate
of the region. The experience of camping and actually living in my research for two months
was life-changing for me. It taught me how to go about planning and carrying out research,
and also taught me the importance of truly observing and gaining a context for my subject.
All of these skills will help me to continue analyzing the data from this trip back at Princeton,
and to carry out my own research in the future.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Eric Bolton 15
Geosciences

Project:
Field Geological Study of the Evolution of Life,
Climate, Magmatism, and Geography
Organization/Location:
Maloof Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Australia
Adviser(s):
Adam Maloof, Professor, Geosciences; Blair
Schoene, Professor, Geosciences

This summer I did field work in Australia with two graduate students in the Geosciences
Department at Princeton University. The topics of their research were different, but were
focused on the same region in Western Australia: the Pilbara Craton. One goal of our research
was to use paleomagnetism and geochronology to retrace the geographical location and
movement of the craton through study of the 2.7 Ga. Fortescue formation. The other goal
was to use geochronology to understand the history and internal structure of the Muccan
and Mount Edgar granite domes within the craton. We camped, hiked and drove around
the Pilbaran wilderness to find and collect rock samples. The paleomagnetism research
involved drilling to collect core samples of basalts, and collecting sediment samples for
geochronology. The granite dome research involved studying deformation of granites in
different parts of the domes and collecting block samples for geochronology. I learned a
lot about mineralogy, petrology and structural geology, plus I learned many important life
skills over the course of the summer. As a result of this internship, I plan to work on thermal
diffusivity models to better understand the cooling history of the Pilbara granite domes for
my senior independent work.
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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Ethan Campbell 16
Geosciences

Project:
Seasonal Cycle of Oxygen in the Weddell Sea
from Autonomous Profiling Floats
Organization/Location:
School of Oceanography, University of
Washington, Seattle, WA
Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences;
Stephen Riser, University of Washington

Under the guidance of Professor Stephen Riser of the University of Washingtons School of
Oceanography, I spent the summer analyzing data from Argo profiling floats drifting in the
Weddell Sea region of Antarctica. The Weddell Sea is an area of great interest due to its
marginal stability and influence on global heat, carbon, and freshwater budgets, yet it is
historically under-sampled. Its remote location and sea ice cover continue to hinder shipborne
observation; however, the recent development of autonomous floats has enabled yearround profiling of the region, even from beneath winter sea ice. While exploring temperature
and salinity measurements from this array of floats, I found evidence of dynamical processes
near the seamount, or underwater mountain, known as Maud Rise. Multiple signatures of
these processes were apparent, including a halo of persistent low sea ice concentration
and warm, upwelled water in the vicinity of the seamount. In addition to this finding and
other discoveries, I spent much of the summer preparing the Argo data set for further
quantitative analysis for my upcoming Geosciences junior paper, which I look forward to
writing.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Alison Campion 16
Geosciences

Project:
Late Paleozoic Ice Age: Carbon and Oxygen
Isotopes in Carbonate Parasequences
Organization/Location:
Maloof Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, England
Adviser(s):
Adam Maloof, Professor, Geosciences

The Late Paleozoic Ice Age occurred approximately 300 million years ago and is an ancient
analogue to the Plio-Pleistocene Ice Age, our modern climate system that is characterized
by alternating cold glacial climate and warm, interglacial climate. During this ice age,
England was a tropical platform, recording environmental information in the deposition of
carbonate and siliclastic rocks. This past summer I went to England and measured stratigraphic
layers, noting bed thickness, lithology, grain size, facies, fossil abundance, and sedimentary
structures to learn about the environment recorded in the deposition of the rocks. I collected
approximately 1200 samples from outcrop and core material to measure carbon and oxygen
isotope ratios; from this we can interpret global temperature, ice volume, and atmospheric
carbon dioxide at the time of the deposition. This semester I will analyze the physical and
chemostratigraphy of the sections from England to better understand how Earths climate
was changing at the beginning of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age. Not only did I gather a lot
of interesting data this summer, I also had an amazing experience and learned so much
about how to improvise, adapt, and overcome challenges during research. My research
from the summer will contribute to my junior paper this semester and is the start of a twoyear senior thesis project.
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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Alex Dominguez 16

Chemical and Biological Engineering


Project:
Analysis of Mechanisms of Nutrient Cycling in
Floodplain Lakes of the Lower Mississippi River
Organization/Location:
University of Mississippi Department of Biology,
Oxford, Mississippi
Adviser(s):
Lars Hedin, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; Clifford Ochs, University
of Mississippi

My summer was spent addressing the problem of over-nitrification in the Mississippi River.
The river has a watershed that encompasses a massive area, causing a great deal of nitratebased farm fertilizer to make its way into the river. Ultimately, these nitrates are the catalyst
of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. The first step to solving this problem is understanding how
nitrogen can be removed from the system. Through a bacterial process called denitrification,
nitrates can be broken down to nitrogen gas and removed from the river. Throughout the
summer we collected water and sediment samples from different parts of the river system
and analyzed them in order to find conditions that can maximize denitrification. With this
knowledge, the river can be managed to increase biodiversity and combat over-nitrification.
Personally, I was just as comfortable in a lab coat as I was up to my neck in swamp water.
The vastness of the Mississippi River alongside its flora and fauna provided the perfect antithesis
for the atomic level analysis we were doing in the lab. This opportunity really helped me
appreciate the interdependence of systems in biology and I hope to pursue more biological
research in the future.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

11

SUSTAINABILITY

Jacob Eisenberg 16
Chemistry

Project:
Shedding Light on Plant Respiration
Organization/Location:
Bender Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Sweden
Adviser(s):
Michael Bender, Emeritus Professor,
Geosciences; Paul Gauthier, Postdoctoral
Research Associate, Geosciences

The goal of my summer internship was to investigate plant respiration, and whether or not
it is inhibited in the daytime at high latitudes. There has been previous work that suggests
that the rate of respiration, which results in CO2 being released into the atmosphere, is lower
in the daytime than the nighttime. It is important to further understand and investigate this
phenomena, as the rate of plant respiration has an impact on the overall carbon balance
and the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere. We were fortunate to travel to Abisko, Sweden
to observe whether this daytime inhibition would occur in plants that were under 24-hour
sunlight in the summer. While there, we were out in the forest every day measuring the gas
exchange rates of trees under different light conditions. We found that under these conditions
there was no inhibition of respiration. This internship was my first experience with fieldwork
and all of its exciting aspects and challenges. Being embedded in a lab group gave me
the opportunity to observe and be part of the process of academic research. Im looking
forward to extending this internship and the skills I learned into my independent work in the
future.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Atleigh Forden 16
Geosciences

Project:
Shedding Light on Plant Respiration
Organization/Location:
Bender Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Sweden
Adviser(s):
Michael Bender, Emeritus Professor,
Geosciences; Paul Gauthier, Postdoctoral
Research Associate, Geosciences

The overall goal of my project this summer was to study how plant respiration behaves in
the 24-hour daylight of summer in the high arctic of Swedish Lapland. My partner and I spent
the first part of this project on campus in the lab, familiarizing ourselves with the various
systems we would be using in the field in Sweden. While in Sweden, the primary machine
we used was the Licor 6400, a machine that measures the gas fluxes within a chamber
compared to outside ambient concentrations and extrapolates its photosynthetic rate and
other parameters. We monitored the rate of photosynthesis of birch trees at different light
intensities throughout the 24-hour arctic day for a week and found almost no inhibition of
leaf respiration at higher light intensities. Through this internship I learned how to function
within a research group, how to handle all of the uncertainties and mini-disasters of working
in the field and how to process many different types of data. This internship confirmed my
desire to pursue graduate school in some capacity; I loved the work and continually learning
new things. I enjoy the challenges and the constant engagement that research demands.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

13

SUSTAINABILITY

Kevin Griffin 17

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Project:
The Princeton BioDigester Project
Organization/Location:
Princeton University Office of Sustainability,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Shana Weber, Director, Office of Sustainability

This summer I researched a process called anaerobic digestion, which converts food waste
into compost and natural gas by using bacteria cultures to decompose organic matter. To
study this phenomenon, I built a system called a biodigester on Princetons campus. This
system will be used as a research platform for studying how anaerobic digestion responds
to changes in temperature, changes in pressure, the introduction of bacterial cultures and
enzymes, and the use of different waste materials, and how these changes affect the system
pH and the health of essential bacteria. This summer, I organized the construction of the
biodigester, developed electronic systems for monitoring the digester and collecting data,
and researched the dynamic biological systems that will need to be balanced for the
biodigester to perform well. Through this internship I developed my communication skills by
overseeing the installation of the biodigester, learned the C programming language, gained
practical experience working with electronics, and learned some of the biochemistry and
microbiology of anaerobic digestion. This project has reinforced my academic interests in
sustainability technologies, and it will likely lead me toward a certificate in sustainable
energy and eventually a career in sustainable engineering.
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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Corrie Kavanaugh 17

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Potable Water Project for La Pitajaya, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton
University, Princeton, NJ, Peru
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering

The Peru team of Engineers Without Borders - Princeton University has worked to provide
clean water to the community of La Pitajaya, Peru since 2011. The water pipeline for the
upper half of the community was completed in the summer of 2013. This summer, five Princeton
students and I traveled to Peru to build a water pipeline to bring potable water to the lower
half of the community, La Pitajaya Baja. We collaborated with professional engineers and
local masons in order to implement the system design that we had created during the past
academic year. Over the course of six weeks, our team completed this pipeline, successfully
bringing clean water to all of La Pitajaya. We also made improvements to the existing system.
During this trip I was able to practically apply the theoretical knowledge I learned in class
to a real-world engineering application. It was amazing to see the technical designs that
we had done during the school year come to life as we built this pipeline. This trip not only
gave me practical experience in an engineering discipline, but it also gave me an appreciation
for using the knowledge that I have gained at Princeton to make a meaningful difference
in the lives of others.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

15

SUSTAINABILITY

Matteo Kruijssen 16

Operations Research and Financial


Engineering
Project:
Adding Precision to Agricultural Practice
Through Simultaneous Chlorophyll
Fluoresence
Organization/Location:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Lyndon Estes, Associate
Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School
Crop production experienced a rapid increase during the Green Revolution (1960-1980), a
time of widespread adoption of better crop management techniques. However, this
production has recently stalled. Given a quickly rising world population and climate change,
the ability to accurately predict crop yields and to optimize management practices is
becoming increasingly important. Models currently exist to predict crop yields, but the
impact of factors such as nitrogen and water stress on these models remains largely unknown.
The goal of our project was to explore in depth one of these models, the Decision Support
System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) program, to evaluate its ability to help determine
optimal management practices and to identify potential weaknesses that can be improved
upon. This summer, I was in charge of exploring the DSSAT code and performing a sensitivity
analysis test to determine which variables are most important for a plants growth. I learned
a lot about the biological processes that occur during plant growth, and I will be continuing
this project during the school year to understand some strange results we observed over
the summer. Moving forward, I may even incorporate this project into my senior independent
research project.
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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Suk Yung (Mike) Lee 16

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Project:
Rapid Forest Triage by Sub-Canopy Micro Air
Vehicle
Organization/Location:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Adam Wolf, Associate Research
Scholar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The goal of the Rapid Forest Triage project, the focus of my summer internship, was to survey
a forest autonomously with a quadcopter. Using stereo vision, the quadcopter would traverse
the forest while noting the location and diameters of trees to estimate a forests biomass.
The quadcopter would also take microclimate data measurements with an onboard sensing
unit. Using the microclimate and tree data, I created intra-forest ecology maps in MATLAB.
Test data sets of forests were also created with manual surveys. We put both sets of data on
an interactive website that incorporated a Google Earth embed of surveyed forests, along
with corresponding survey data, tree data, and ecology maps. I learned many different
technical skills, such as working with the robotics operating framework ROS, the languages
of C++, MATLAB, HTML, jQuery, and D3. On a broader level, I really enjoyed using robotics
to directly interact with nature. This summer experience verified my love of robotics and
fieldwork; I am now considering working specifically on robotics with applications in the
natural world. I couldnt have asked for a better place to work over the summer than JPL,
where the talks, the employees, and the current missions redefine what it means to dream
big.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

17

SUSTAINABILITY

Amanda Li 16

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Potable Water Project for La Pitajaya, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton
University, Princeton, NJ, Peru
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering

This past summer, I had the amazing privilege of working together with the community of
La Pitajaya, trenching with them along the side of the Andean foothills, carrying needed
materials up the mountain and searching for solutions to all of the problems that we inevitably
faced in building a system to bring clean, potable water to the community. I came to Peru
in 2013 as a travel team member of EWB-Princetons Peru chapter, where I worked on the
water system for the upper part of the community of La Pitajaya. This summer, I returned as
a Program Manager, and was able to work on and achieve our goal of finishing the water
system for the lower part of the community. We got to see the moment when clean potable
water flowed through every tapstand in La Pitajaya. My involvement with the EWB-Peru
team gave me so much knowledge and insight into the world of international development.
It showed me the many considerations, the planning, the commitment, the obstacles, and
the reward that comes from implementing an international project. Being pre-med and
having the dream of working in medicine and health, I hope to engage myself in global
health beyond college, through medical school, and into my professional career.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Weimen Li 17

Electrical Engineering
Project:
Quantum Cascade Lasers and Detectors for
Mid-Infrared Sensing of the Environment
Organization/Location:
Mid-Infared Technologies for Health and
Environment (MIRTHE), Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Claire Gmachl, Professor, Electrical
Engineering

My internship with the Mid-Infared Technologies for Health and Environment (MIRTHE) research
group involved modeling and designing a waveguide for 16 m quantum cascade lasers
(QCLs). The primary purpose for the development of an infrared laser at this wavelength
was to allow for sensing of trace gases in the environment, whose absorption spectra lies
dominantly around =16 m light. The work I did this summer consisted of using the COMSOL
multiphysics software to design a waveguide for the laser. I also used MATLAB to implement
models that can be used to help optimize waveguide designs. In the course of my work, I
gained a rudimentary knowledge of photonic and semiconductor devices, and of how
they are developed in research and used in industry. I also learned to program in MATLAB
and use COMSOL multiphysics software, both of which are useful skills that may assist me in
the future. Finally, I gained an interest in the field of semiconductor devices and photonics,
which is a possible major track within the Department of Electrical Engineering here at
Princeton. In that regard, I have the opportunity to return to working in the same laboratory
for any junior or senior independent work, or thesis, if I so wish.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

19

SUSTAINABILITY

Andrew Licini 16
Chemistry

Project:
Optical Reflectivity of Reversible
Electrochemical Mirrors
Organization/Location:
Bernasek Research Lab, Chemistry
Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Steven Bernasek, Professor, Chemistry

I was able to perform research this summer on the properties of reversible electrochemical
mirrors (REMs), a promising field that deposits metal electrochemically onto surfaces to
create controllably reflective layers on otherwise transparent panels. These panels, if
perfected and implemented, would generate enormous energy savings, since windows
allow in extravagant amounts of heatREM windows could be switched off to reflect
heat away when rooms are not occupied, or even fine-tuned to be partially reflective while
still allowing a view outside. While working to develop these panels, I had an amazing
experience working in a fully-stocked, professional research lab. Not only was I able to
perform electrochemical tests on a sample cell, but I was also involved in all of the steps of
preparation and analysis: assembling a full-scale drybox to perform the water-sensitive
reactions, synthesizing the cutting-edge ionic liquid electrolytes, and even conferencing
with top research groups halfway across the country. Working with my departmental research
advisor over the summer also gave me a great taste of life as an academic researcher and
as a chemistry graduate student.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Jason Manley 17
Physics

Project:
Mechanisms of Resistance to Genotoxic Stress
in Sea Urchins
Organization/Location:
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS),
Bermuda
Adviser(s):
Andrea Bodnar, Bermuda Institute of Oceanic
Sciences; Helena Reinardy, Bermuda Institute
of Oceanic Sciences

The Molecular Discovery Lab at Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) uses the sea
urchin to study the processes of aging and cancer, since sea urchins do not appear to show
any signs of deteriorative aging or development of cancers. My project branched off this
to look at their remarkable regenerative capacity, which is critical for maintenance of tissues
over their long life span. I used a novel regeneration assay developed in the lab that uses
photography and image analysis to measure percent regeneration of external appendages
(spines and tube feet). By using this assay in the presence of inhibitors of specific molecular
pathways, we were able to identify mechanisms that play a role in tissue regeneration. In
addition, I used molecular techniques (e.g., quantitative polymerase chain reaction) to
measure the expression of stem cell and cell proliferation markers. Although stem cells are
controversial in echinoderms, our lab hypothesizes that they are critical for the processes
of tissue regeneration and my early results indicate their presence. This project taught me
about a lot of critical laboratory skills, experimental design, technical writing, and problemsolving when things didnt go so well. I really enjoyed working in the lab and look forward
to pursuing more research opportunities at Princeton.
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Ahmed Musse 17

Electrical Engineering
Project:
Quantum Cascade Lasers and Detectors for
Mid-Infrared Sensing of the Environment
Organization/Location:
Mid-Infared Technologies for Health and
Environment (MIRTHE), Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Claire Gmachl, Professor, Electrical
Engineering

My summer internship, hosted by MIRTHE in conjunction with PEI, focused on infrared sensing
of the environment. Our goal was to build what is called an Optical Coherence Tomography
system. This system would provide cross-sectional images of biological systems allowing for
the detection of toxic compounds within biological tissue. My responsibilities involved aligning
the superluminescent emitter to optimize the amount of signal we received, which also
included filtering out noise from the signal. In addition, I was responsible for developing
code in MATLAB that was able to control the location of the movable mirror in our OCT
setup, and the amount of data collected from the lock-in amplifier. While building the system,
I learned about the process of research and the amount of organization that is involved.
This internship gave me insight into how technological breakthroughs are made through
clever modifications of known concepts. This experience also reinforced my interest in an
electrical engineering major. The intersection of medical imaging and electrical engineering
involved in my internship has prompted me to think of how I can use electrical engineering
practically in the medical field for future research.

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Eric Principato 16

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Project:
Closing the Spatio-Temporal Gap in
Ecological Observation with UAVs
Organization/Location:
Caylor Group, Civil and Environmental
Engineering Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Lyndon Estes, Associate
Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School
The goal of my project this summer was to develop a workflow for ecological observation
with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). UAVs offer advantages over other remote sensing
technologies like satellites or manned aircraft because of their spatial and temporal resolution.
The resolution collected from UAVs is comparable to that of satellites, but because UAVs are
much cheaper to fly and can be flown on demand, they can be a smart alternative to other
techniques. I developed workflow for extracting data from collected images; this included
performing field work and developing flight checklists as well as developing programs to
create and align large orthomosaics of the area of interest. This involved surveying available
programs to perform the ortho creation, and writing computer vision programs in Matlab
and Python to rectify and process that imagery. I enjoyed this project because as a
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student, I was able to contribute to an ecological
project in the Department of Civil and Engineering. I think there are a lot of opportunities
for different fields of study to contribute to each other, and I enjoyed the opportunity to do
just that this summer. Im continuing to work with Dr. Estes this year, and I see it potentially
developing into a possible topic for independent work.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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SUSTAINABILITY

Natalie Saenz 15
Chemistry

Project:
Shedding Light on Plant Respiration
Organization/Location:
Bender Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Michael Bender, Emeritus Professor,
Geosciences; Paul Gauthier, Postdoctoral
Research Associate, Geosciences

How do we know that we have accurate estimates for incorporating plant respiration when
calculating carbon dioxide fluxes in the atmosphere? For my project this summer, I aimed
to understand the influence of light intensity on plant metabolism. More specifically, I used
stable carbon isotopes to uncover the metabolic origins of the Kok effecta phenomenon
not fully understood and that is seen in plants at low light intensities. As part of the Bender
lab, under the supervision of Dr. Paul Gauthier, I had the opportunity to build my own gasexchange chamber and to learn how to use various laboratory instruments such as the
mass spectrometer in depth. I was able to apply my chemical background to illuminate a
biological process that has kept scientists in the dark for more than half a century. Over the
course of this school year, I will be continuing these experiments in greater depth for my
senior thesis.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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Kasturi Shah 16
Physics

Project:
Evolution of Himalayan Glaciers under
Changing Climate Conditions, Peru
Organization/Location:
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
(GFDL), Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Olga Sergienko, Research Glaciologist,
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

The goal of my summer internship was to investigate the evolution of Himalayan glaciers
under changing climate conditions. Using raw data from automated weather stations in
the Himalayas as well as climate model output from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
Laboratory (GFDL), I investigated the correlation between temperature and precipitation
over the last 60 years and developed an ablation and mass-balance model for glaciers,
specific to the region of the Himalayas that they were in. I then began work on investigating
the relationship between temperature and precipitation using predictions from the model
to forecast the future evolution of glaciers. I really enjoyed working on a self-driven research
project, and the range of seminars and discussions at GFDL and the Atmospheric and
Oceanic Sciences program was extremely stimulating! I intend to continue this research
for either a junior paper or my senior thesis.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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SUSTAINABILITY

Zoe Sims 17

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Leafing Through Rainforest Tree Competitive
Strategies in Nutrient Limited Ecosystems
Organization/Location:
Pacala Group, Ecology and Evolutionary
Biology Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ, Costa Rica
Adviser(s):
Stephen Pacala, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; Cleo Chou, Ph.D.
Candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Tropical rainforests are among the earths most productive and diverse ecosystems. Yet,
while they have potential to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, perhaps mitigating
climate change, their growth is limited by low soil nutrient levels. How do the dynamics of
nutrient limitation vary across tree species and functional types? How are they affected by
light availability? This summer, I approached these questions as part of an ongoing fertilization
study in the lush lowland tropical rainforest of Costa Rica. Working with Cleo Chou, a PhD
student in Princetons Department Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB), I measured,
fertilized, photographed, and collected leaf samples from the projects study trees. I also
designed and conducted an independent study to examine how leaf traits size and mass
per area interact with nutrient limitation. This knowledge contributes our understanding
of forest dynamics and applications such as climate modeling. In the process, I learned the
essentials of fieldwork, particularly perseverance in the face of challenge and unpredictability.
The experience reinvigorated my passion for ecology and the critical, big-picture questions
it allows us to pose. It opened my eyes to the career possibilities within ecology and academia,
and reinforced my awe for the science and mystery of the natural world.
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Stephen Soerens 15

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
What Trees Could Learn From Alan Greenspan
Organization/Location:
Caylor Group/Pacala Group, Princeton
University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Adam Wolf, Associate Research
Scholar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

As part of the Princeton Ecohydrology Lab this past summer, I investigated how trees use
water in response to different environmental conditions. The way in which tree species will
respond to drought and other consequences of climate change is an important variable
in climate models. To understand these ecosystem changes, we need to determine how
species balance the risk of damaging their tissue (cavitation in the xylem) with the reward
of photosynthesis in order to outgrow and outlast their competitors. In researching this question,
I used methods that employed both low-tech, mostly homemade instrumentation, and the
more hi-tech LI-COR gas exchange system that is familiar to the plant physiologist. These
methods required thorough troubleshooting as complications arose, but provided me with
the experience needed to confidently investigate plant hydraulic systems. Ultimately I was
able to gather meaningful data that demonstrated the value and validity of the combination
of methods used. After mastering the methodology and gathering some promising data
over the summer, I hope to be able to further investigate drought response as part of my
senior independent research.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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SUSTAINABILITY

Connor Stonesifer 16

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Lignin Phenols in Microbial and Marine
Organic Matter Production in the Open
Ocean
Organization/Location:
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS),
Bermuda
Adviser(s):
Natasha McDonald, Research Specialist,
Bermuda Institute of Oceanic Sciences

As an intern for the Bermuda Bio Optics Program, I worked with scientists at the Bermuda
Institute for Ocean Sciences (BIOS) to investigate a class of dissolved organic molecules
within the ocean known as chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM). CDOM acts
as a kind of sunscreen, regulating the amount of UV-Vis light that penetrates the subsurface
ocean. In acting as a light-limiter, CDOM can control the photosynthetic activity of the
oceans primary producers. By studying the molecules in CDOM, we can better understand
how the underwater light field is regulated and come to a more accurate picture of the
health of the marine ecosystem. My summer research focused specifically on one molecule
within the CDOM pool: lignin, a plant-based polymer. I worked alongside a photochemist
and a microbiologist on two experiments that tested the hypothesis that lignin is degraded
by the metabolic processes of marine microbes within the Sargasso Sea. Wonderfully, our
data supported our hypothesis! I studied and implemented analytical chemistry techniques,
had access to top-notch scientific equipment, and had the pleasure of being able to shed
light on a really interesting question in oceanic research. This summer has taught me skills
in critical thinking and experimental planning that I know will be invaluable in my senior
thesis research.
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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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Michelle-Ann Tan 16
Molecular Biology

Project:
Biological and Physical Controls on
Phytoplankton Growth in the Southern Ocean
Organization/Location:
Sarmiento Group, Atmospheric and Oceanic
Sciences Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences

In the Department of Commerce Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL), scientists have
developed a computer model called the ESM2M, meant to portray physical and chemical
trends and interactions in the ocean and atmosphere all over the world. However, there
has been a discrepancy between the way the model portrays chlorophyll concentration
seasonality in the Southern Ocean and our observations of this seasonality based on BioArgo
floats and other field data collections. This summer, I worked with Dr. Rebecca Asch in the
Sarmiento Group to further investigate what biological and physical controls of chlorophyll
concentration in the Southern Ocean are most important according to the ESM2M, how
these controls work according to the ESM2M, and how these controls might be different
according to our observations. I used the graphing and statistical tools in Matlab to observe
the nature and strength of these control-to-phytoplankton concentration relationships to
better understand what was going on in the model. Though not directly related to the
research I might undertake as a future molecular biologist, my internship was an enriching
experience. I developed Matlab skills, which can take on many different applications; I
learned to appreciate the integrated nature of the science of oceanography; and I learned
to appreciate the work that goes into a model and the importance of accurate models.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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SUSTAINABILITY

Adrian Tasistro-Hart 17
Geosciences

Project:
Field Geological Study of the Evolution of Life,
Climate, Magmatism, and Geography,
Namibia
Organization/Location:
Maloof Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, NJ, Namibia
Adviser(s):
Adam Maloof, Professor, Geosciences; Blair
Schoene, Professor, Geosciences

Ray Bartolucci and I worked for two months as field assistants to a PhD student, Akshay
Mehra, in Namibia. Our work focused on finding and mapping 540-million-year-old reefs in
which one of the first bio-mineralizing organisms, Cloudina, is present in large quantities.
Whenever we encountered a reef, we studied its overall shape as well as the morphologies
of the structures within it. We also sampled the best-preserved specimens of Cloudina, which
we will process here at Princeton. Finally, we used a drone to take hundreds of high-resolution
aerial images, which we are now compositing into 3D models of the terrain, in the hopes
that we can compute spatial statistics on the regions that we mapped and sampled from.
Through this internship I learned a lot about the scientific process and effective data collection.
We developed the ability to constantly question our observations as we honed our
observational skills, and we also learned how to adapt to our new ideas to collect data that
was meaningful. My first experience with fieldwork during this internship helped solidify my
intention to major in Geosciences, and I definitely want to continue fieldwork for my own
independent work.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Sol Taubin 16

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Quantitative Outcome Analysis & Sustainable
Development Policy in the Amazon Basin
Organization/Location:
Amazon Environmental Research Institute,
Brazil
Adviser(s):
Paolo Brando, Amazon Environmental
Research Institute (IPAM)

In the last decade, Brazil has seen millions of hectares of its native biomes logged and
burned in response to rising global demands for raw goods and cheap food sources. These
explicit regional changes in land use, in conjunction with global climate trends, have spilled
over to affect local climactic patterns, energy fluxes, and ecosystem health, and have
further marginalized populations already vulnerable to anthropogenic and climactic
pressures. Interning at the Amazon Environmental Research Institutes field site, I had the
opportunity to work side-by-side with leading scientists, policy makers, and field technicians
on these issues. I learned cutting-edge methodology in data collection and field research,
experimental design techniques, and data analysis in R; was exposed firsthand to deforestation
for agricultural production, and improved my Portuguese. My personal projects included
writing code to interpret and visualize eddy flux tower data and helping collect and treat
water and soil samples for electro-conductivity and contamination experiments. My internship
was an incredible experience, and has informed my plans for junior independent work and
my senior thesis. I hope to build on the foundation of spatial modeling and statistical analysis
of converging socio-environmental pressures that I developed this summer, and further
explore the intersection of environmental change and marginalization.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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SUSTAINABILITY

Joshua Umanksy-Castro 17

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Project:
Potable Water Project for La Pitajaya, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton
University, Princeton, NJ, Peru
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering

This summer, I worked in Peru as part of Princetons Engineers without Borders travel team
to finish building a water system for the community of La Pitajaya. Our third implementation
trip, we had already brought water to the upper part of the community, La Pitajaya Alta,
and were now starting the water system for the Baja part of the community. As the source
was located 3km away, most of our work involved trenching and installing the pipeline, as
well as carrying materials up and down the mountains to where they were needed. After
six weeks, we managed to get water flowing in every single tapstand in La Pitajaya Baja, as
well as connect two more community members to the Alta system. Looking ahead to next
summer, we plan to assess both water systems, as well as search for potential projects in the
area. While my post-graduate plans are undecided, this summer made me realize Id like
to pursue a career where I can make this same type of impact, and know that Im making
a difference in the world.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Adam Yabroudi 15
Electrical Engineering

Project:
Rapid Forest Triage by Sub-Canopy Micro Air
Vehicle
Organization/Location:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Adam Wolf, Associate Research
Scholar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The retrieval of dendrometric measurements in forests can be time-consuming and imprecise.


Autonomous micro-aerial vehicles, like quadcopters, have the ability to gather data much
faster and more accurately than humans. One measurement of significance in forest ecology
is diameter at breast height (DBH). This measurement is generally taken 1.3-1.4 meters off
the ground. To obtain such a measurement autonomously the micro-aerial must not only
isolate and track the tree trunks in a forest using computer vision but it must also compute
the ground plane to precisely measure DBH. Over the summer at JPL-NASA, my role was
focused on creating and testing the computer vision algorithms to isolate the ground plane
in cluttered environments. I was also involved in development of the tree detection algorithms.
After these were paired with other student work in the project, we were able to map the
forests for further scientific studies. This internship influenced me personally by showing me
a whole new field where robotic and technological solutions could provide value. It also
allowed me to get a sense of how research is conducted in a non-university setting.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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SUSTAINABILITY

Vivian Yao 17
Undecided

Project:
Chinas Climate and Energy Policy
Organization/Location:
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),
China
Adviser(s):
Alvin Lin, China Climate and Energy Policy
Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

This summer I interned for the Climate and Energy Team at the Asian headquarters of the
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) where I focused on coal cap and shale gas
research. Stationed in the worlds most polluted city and Chinas capital, Beijing, I had the
opportunity to travel to all corners of the city to meet influential experts and policymakers
in the field of environmental protection. I was able to sit in on strategic steering committee
hearings regarding the development of Chinas coal cap regulations, and to attend events
held by the U.S. Embassy for the 2014 Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a series of meetings
between U.S. and Chinese officials on the balance between the environment and rapid
economic prosperity. These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities provided me with a means to
obtain the most recent and groundbreaking research and data to analyze. Our team
produced fact sheets and reports to inform not only policymakers and government officials
but also the Chinese community. Beijing is beginning to see an unmistakable correlation
between health complications and the worsening air, water, and soil pollution. This summer
allowed me to hone in on the clear relationship that exists between various branches of
science and human health, and it encouraged me to continue on a science-focused path
at Princeton.
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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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Young Yi 17
Geosciences

Project:
Identifying Equatorial Pacific Ocean
Upwelling Sources
Organization/Location:
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Keith Rodgers, Research Scholar, Atmospheric
and Oceanic Sciences; Robert Key, Research
Oceanographer, Atmospheric and Oceanic
Sciences
I worked as a summer intern with Keith Rodgers, a researcher in the Atmospheric and Oceanic
Sciences (AOS) department, to study the impacts of climate change on the Pacific Equatorial
Undercurrent (EUC). The EUC is of interest because it is a bottleneck where waters from
several different origins mix together and flow across the entire Pacific Ocean along the
equator. We first conducted 30 simulations of the climate system, encompassing the years
1950 to 2100, using an Earth System Model. Then, I utilized MATLAB to analyze the model
outputs and to create visual representations of the changes in the EUC. Through this research
opportunity, I developed proficiency in MATLAB and a general understanding of oceanography.
I also enjoyed seeing computer science in application, and now I am thinking about pursuing
my undergraduate studies in Geosciences. I hope to continue studying the effects of climate
change on the oceans and also to consider how scientific breakthroughs dealing with
climate change can be readily and accurately presented to the general public.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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SUSTAINABILITY

Bridget Zakrzewski 17

Environmental Engineering
Project:
Vertical Structure of Ocean Mesoscale Eddies
in the Southern Ocean
Organization/Location:
Sarmiento Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences; Ivy
Frenger, Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Though the ocean as a whole is mysterious, the most perplexing region is perhaps the
Southern Ocean. The Southern Ocean surrounds Antarctica and is particularly difficult to
study due to freezing temperatures, sea ice, and seasonal darkness. The goal of my project
was to study whirlpool-like currents in the Southern Ocean called eddies in order to gain
a better understanding of the current systems and mixing properties in this region. To study
eddies, I modeled previously gathered oceanographic data from Argo floats and AVISO
satellites using MATLAB. Once data was collected and modeled, I researched various
properties of eddies by reading scientific articles and other academic resources. From my
summer experience, I learned more about ocean dynamics and its importance to the
sustainability of the global climate. I was also fortunate enough to attend many seminars
about current climate, oceanographic, and meteorological research. Because of the
positive experience I had during my PEI internship, I have shifted my future study focus from
chemical engineering to environmental engineering.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Rka Zemplni 16
Economics

Project:
Womens Micro-Enterprise Development
Organization/Location:
Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation,
Ecuador
Adviser(s):
Paola Durango, Ceiba Foundation for Tropical
Conservation

I spent this summer with the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation in Ecuador, working
with a womens micro-enterprise development project. I spent eight weeks in the tiny
community of Camarones helping a small group of women develop their soap-making
micro-enterprise. The project provides a source of income for the women, who would otherwise
have limited access to any jobs. It also enhances sustainable practices; the women use the
seeds of the locally grown pion seeds to make organic, handmade soaps. I performed a
range of tasks to facilitate the development of the micro-enterprise. These included working
with wood to assemble a drying box for the soaps with basic bicycle mechanics to enhance
efficiency of the oil press, making soap and experimenting with various natural additives
for coloring and scent, developing a webpage and a business plan for the micro-enterprise,
and meeting with clients for the soap. As a result, we helped advance the project to a state
at which the operation could generate an income and improve of the livelihood of these
women. This internship gave me invaluable insight into how sustainable development can
be put into practice, and reaffirmed my interest in studying further and perhaps later working
in this field.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

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SUSTAINABILITY

Jennifer Zhao 16

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Finding the Fastest Fish
Organization/Location:
Levin Lab, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Department, Princeton University, Princeton,
NJ, Sweden
Adviser(s):
Simon Levin; Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; James Watson, Visiting
Associate Research Scholar, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology
It is widely acknowledged that fishing efforts affect marine populations, though to what
extent is less understood. Analyzing the impact of fishing intensity on marine systems can
inform policy on redirecting fishing efforts, but first this diversity must be quantified. This
summer, I joined a project on the U.S. West Coast, a forefront of marine research. I modeled
patterns of fish diversity using government trawl survey data. Trawl surveys use a large net
which trails behind the survey vessel to unselectively catch fish in the trawl area, making it
independent of environmental and fishing pressures and thus useful to quantify and predict
diversity as a function of those factors. To quantify diversity I used the Shannon-Wiener index,
an index that represents the entropy of encountering fish at a location of a trawl survey.
Exploratory data analysis indicated structural outliers in the Southern California Bight area,
with anomalously low diversity warranting further study. This summer, I built on my knowledge
of data analysis and coding, and hope to continue the research by producing a model of
fish diversity as a function of fishing effort and environmental factors. My summer experience
confirmed my desire to continue pursuing EEB.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

SUSTAINABILITY

Angela Zhou 16

Operations Research & Financial Engineering


Project:
Finding the Fastest Fish
Organization/Location:
Levin Lab, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Department, Princeton University, Princeton,
NJ, Sweden
Adviser(s):
Simon Levin; Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; James Watson, Visiting
Associate Research Scholar, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology
Traditional fisheries management policies remain uninformed by an understanding of the
social dynamics and connectivities of fishing communities. Fishermen make decisionswhich
are affected by their social communities, different norms and economic incentivesto
compete or collaborate for resources. These individual decisions play out through
communication and information-sharing about fishing locations, and affect fisheries
management as a whole. A competitive fishing strategy, for example, has different implications
for sustainability than a more collaborative one. Unfortunately, its difficult to precisely
measure and characterize these information-sharing behaviors, beyond reviewing anecdotal
interview evidence from fishermen. GPS-reported tracks of fishermens movements, however,
provide strong signals about fishermens behavior. During this internship, I applied machine
learning techniques to the movement data to infer the fishing behavior of the vessels, and
worked with an agent-based model of fishermen to investigate how information sharing
impacted catch rates. I learned how data mining techniques can be used to inform more
sustainable management practices. This work on connecting decision theory to statistical
inference from spatiotemporal data has furthered my interest in decision theory in general,
connecting my interests in statistics, data science, economics, and the social sciences.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

39

Climate & Energy

EJ Baik 16

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Measuring Methane Leakage from
Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department and Public and International
Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Denise Mauzerall, Professor, Civil and
Environmental Engineering and Public and
International Affairs
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is contributing to global warming, a fact which
underlines the importance of monitoring methane leakage sources around the world.
Abandoned oil and gas wells are a significant source of methane that has not been explored
before. For this internship, I was responsible for looking at the geologic formations of the
abandoned oil and gas wells we measured. Geologic formation provides important
background information for abandoned oil and gas wells as it shows what oil or gas fields
the wells may be tapping into. This summer, I worked a lot with ArcGIS, a mapping and
spatial analysis program. It was a wonderful experience, learning a new programming
language as well as learning more of what a research opportunity at a university entails. It
was also valuable meeting and talking to people who were working in the field in which I
was interested. As a junior, I will be continuing my work throughout this semester as an
independent study. Using the geologic information that I obtained, I will be expanding on
this topic to explore the effective permeability of the wells that we observed over the summer.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Scott Bechler 17
Geosciences

Project:
Environmental Behavior of Indium, an Element
Critical to Emerging Energy Technologies
Organization/Location:
Geosciences Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ

The focus of my project this summer was to determine the environmental effects that a new
solar material, organometal (lead) halide perovskites, could have if it was used commercially.
This solar material has seen rapid increases in efficiency, but it is still unstable compared with
its counterparts, silicon based solar panels, which are currently in use today. Furthermore,
the new material contains lead, which is toxic and could cause serious consequences if
released into the environment. This summer I worked in Guyot Hall on campus and leached
functional solar cells (with efficiencies of about 8%) with synthetic rainwater. The solar cells
were received from a collaborator at the University of Washington, and the formulas for the
synthetic rainwaters came from the Environmental Protection Agency and have been used
on solar panel waste in the past. I found that large amounts of lead were leached from
these solar cells, so my goal in the future is to try to optimize the structure of the solar cell so
that we can maximize its efficiency while minimizing its environmental effects. After this
incredible opportunity working in the Geosciences Department, I decided to pursue
geosciences as my concentration. I plan to continue working with my advisor on this project.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

41

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Sarah Jane White, Visiting Associate Research
Scholar, Geosciences

Conleigh Byers 15

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
International Energy Security

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. Department
of State, Washington, DC
Adviser(s):
Faith Corneille Rios, U.S. Department of State,
Bureau of Energy Resources, Office of
Electricity and Energy Efficiency

I spent the summer in the Energy Transformation Group at the U.S. Department of States
Bureau of Energy Resources, which leads government efforts to promote international energy
security. My placement was in the Office of Electricity and Energy Efficiency, which works
globally to transition power systems to more sustainable fuels and technologies and achieve
sustainable and global access to electricity. One of my major projects was researching
developmental stages of electricity markets post-liberalization with the goal of identifying
best practices to promote grid capacity expansion, reduce system losses, and encourage
the entrance of independent generators. I also consulted on the feasibility of hybrid solardiesel microgrid solutions for U.N. refugee camps, drawing on experience I had gained last
summer in Jordan. My internship this summer gave me insight into how a federal agency
operates and helped me develop skills in effectively conveying technical knowledge in the
policy sphere, which will be critical if I decide to pursue a career in energy policy.

42

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Joan Cannon 15
Geosciences

Project:
Studying the Past Carbon Cycle with FossilBound Organic Matter
Organization/Location:
Sigman Lab, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

My PEI summer internship in the Sigman Lab focused on developing a method for measuring
the carbon isotopic ratios of organic matter trapped in planktonic foraminifera fossils from
a tropical Atlantic sediment core using a mass spectrometer. Our goals were to better
understand the carbon cycle over the past 800,000 years and to investigate how biological
and chemical changes in the ocean affected past atmospheric carbon concentrations.
Over the summer, I researched and collected a shallow North Atlantic sediment core from
the Lamont-Doherty Core Repository and then extracted and sorted the different species
of foraminifera fossils from the sediment. I cleaned the extracted foraminifera according to
a pre-determined procedure and then prepared the samples for mass spectrometer analysis.
I ran the samples in the mass spectrometer and analyzed the resulting carbon isotope ratios.
I learned all the hands-on skills of how to process sediment core samples from beginning to
end: obtaining a core, picking out the desired fossil species, cleaning and prepping the
samples, analyzing them in a mass spectrometer, and interpreting the results. This internship
has encouraged me to continue doing research on this topic for my senior thesis and to
possibly pursue graduate studies in this field.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

43

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Daniel Sigman, Professor, Geosciences

Elliot Chang 16

Environmental Engineering
Project:
Use of Alginate and Chitosan to Purify Leaf
Distillates of Organic Contaminants

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Stephen Pacala, Professor,
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Adam
Wolf, Associate Research Scholar
The goal of my Smith-Newton Research Project this summer was to purify tree distillates of
organic contaminants using algae and chitosan hydrogel beads. The current standard of
using activated charcoal as a purifying agent is not sufficient. My solution to this, a new
bio-sorption technique using algae and chitosan to purify these tree distillates of organic
contaminants, looks to be promising in allowing for more accurate study of water isotopes,
and allows for a deeper study of water transportation amongst competing trees. This summer,
I increased my familiarity with cryogenic vacuum distillations, and learned how to use Picarro
Incorporateds Isotope Ratio Infrared Spectrometer, giving me the necessary skill sets to
analyze and understand water isotopes. This research project will be used to inform my
senior thesis. I look forward to continuing my work with mentor, Adam Wolf, and civil and
environmental engineering professor Kelly Caylor, in understanding the effects of organic
contamination on measuring isotopic signatures of water.

44

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Emily Chen 17

Geological Engineering
Project:
Whats Going on with Antarctic Sea Ice?
Insight from Climate Models
Organization/Location:
Sarmiento Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

In contrast to the Arctic sea ice, which has been decreasing, the Antarctic sea ice has been
growing at a small but significant rate in the past decades. My PEI summer internship aimed
to understand the mechanisms that are driving the sea ice growth around Antarctica. To
analyze the trend and test possible contributors, I worked with several different climate
models, primary from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory, a National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) lab in Princeton, NJ. My analysis determined that the
primary driving mechanisms of the Antarctic sea ice trend were natural variability and
indicated convectionthe transport of cold water down and the transport of warmer water
to the surface. From this internship, I not only learned how to code in Python (a programming
language), but I also gained a general understanding of the climate, oceans, and atmosphere
through the many seminars, journal club meetings, and weekly read-throughs of the latest
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. This experience has shaped
my future academic study, as I plan to major in geological engineering, which is sponsored
by both the Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Geosciences departments.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

45

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences;
Carolina Dufour, Post Doctoral Research
Associate; Adele Morrison, Post Doctoral
Research Associate

Tiffany Cheung 15
Geosciences

Project:
Multimedia Science Communication on the
Southern Ocean Role in the Climate System

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Climate Central, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences;
Heidi Cullen, Climate Central

As a multimedia communications intern at Climate Central, a non-partisan climate research


and journalism organization, I worked on a number of projects supporting the organizations
research and media outreach programs. One such project was to develop an online portal
for Professor Jorge Sarmientos Southern Ocean Project, Unlocking the Mysteries of the
Southern Ocean, using a storyboard layout. This portal will engage the public about the
importance of the Southern Ocean, while furthering interest in its related current scientific
research. I also researched various media sources to evaluate public perception of the role
of climate change in extreme weather events, such as the 2013 Australia Heat Wave, as
part of Climate Centrals new World Weather Attribution project. Furthermore, I examined
media coverage of the organizations work on a daily basis, coverage which ranged from
weather broadcasts in local television markets to climate research reports published in
national outlets. From my internship experience, I learned the importance of science
communication, particularly in furthering public awareness of todays climate research. I
will continue my work at Climate Central as a media analyst during the school year, tracking
media coverage, aiding with press releases, and monitoring the progress of Climate Centrals
Climate Matters program with local broadcast meteorologists.
46

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Carol Chiu 16

Chemical and Biological Engineering


Project:
Global Change and Primary Production in
Polar Waters
Organization/Location:
Morel Research Group, Geosciences
Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

For my PEI internship this summer, I focused on two projects in the Geosciences Department.
My first project was to study nitrogen fixation occurring in microbial samples taken from
Sippewissett Marsh in Massachusetts and the Everglades in Florida. I measured the N2 fixation
rate in these samples using the acetylene reduction assay (ARA). My second project was
to isolate and identify a siderophore or Fe-binding complex produced by the purple nonsulfur
bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris under Fe-deplete conditions. Throughout this
project, I obtained a diversity of skills such as cell culturing and harvesting, cell counting,
protein and pigment extraction, microscopy, using the GC-FID, using the spectrophotometer,
and performing the CAS Assay and BCA Protein Assay. Nonetheless, I believe that the most
important skill I obtained as a result of this internship is the ability to troubleshoot equipment
and interpret experimental data. My wonderful experience doing research in the Geosciences
Department this summer has encouraged me to continue doing research with R. palustris
during the academic year. Currently, I am studying the potential of the bacterium as a
source of biofuel for my junior independent work.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

47

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Franois Morel, Professor, Geosciences

Bristee Das 16

Chemical and Biological Engineering


Project:
Crystallization of Perylene Diimides for
Organic Field-Effect Transistors

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Loo Organic and Polymer Electronics
Laboratory, Chemical and Biological
Engineering Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Lynn Loo, Professor, Engineering and
Chemical and Biological Engineering
This summer, I worked on a research project optimizing the performance of organic field
effect transistors (OFETs). The field effect transistor is a major component of modern electronics
and circuitry. In particular, the OFET is a type of field effect transistor made up of a polymer
or organic small molecule. Interest in OFETs within the energy and scientific communities
has piqued over the last few decades due to their low cost, easy processability, and potential
for a variety of applications, such as large-scale displays. Throughout the summer, I investigated
various methods to control and direct the crystallization process within the channel region
of the transistors, which is important since controlling crystallization can help optimize the
electrical output and conductivity of the transistor and thus lead to high performance. By
the end of the summer, I gained skills relevant to the fabrication of OFETs, was able to extend
materials science concepts I had learned in the classroom, and learned the importance
of making the best of both every failure and success. My summer research helped cement
my passion for and interest in materials engineering in the energy sector, and I am excited
for what the future has in store.

48

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Allen Fang 17
Math

Project:
Effects of Insect Attacks on Forest Carbon
Sinks
Organization/Location:
Medvigy Research Group, Geosciences
Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

As a research assistant studying the New Jersey Pine Barrens, I used and modified the
Ecosystem Demography 2 model to analyze how periodic gypsy moth defoliation affects
the ability of the Pine Barrens to act as a carbon sink. The New Jersey Pine Barrens is a unique
environment where pines and oaks are the dominant tree species. In an undisturbed
environment, oaks thrive better than pines. However, the gypsy moth periodically defoliates
the Pine Barrens, with a heavy preference for oak over pine trees. This causes changes in
forest composition and growth, as well as alterations in the nitrogen, carbon, and water
cycles. Using the Ecosystem Demography 2 model, I looked at the relationship between
ecosystem heterogeneity and the effects of the gypsy moth defoliation. I gained insight
into how to design and build models, as well as how to debug and organize code. This
internship helped me realize how interested I am in applied math, and the many ways in
which math can be utilized in the sciences.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

49

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
David Medvigy, Professor, Geosciences

Jesse Goodman 17
Computer Science

Project:
Encapsulating Phase-Change Materials in
Nanoparticles via Layer-by-Layer Assembly

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
McAlpine Lab, Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Michael McAlpine, Professor, Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering

Protein-loaded microspheres have recently gained influence through promising applications


such as drug delivery and tissue engineering. However, it has always been challenging to
control the release rate of the loaded protein(s). This summer, I worked to understand how
certain fabrication parameters affect the release profiles of these microspheres. My project
focused on monitoring the release of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) from PLGA microspheres
manufactured via the double emulsion solvent evaporation method. After tweaking certain
parameters in the fabrication process, I could then monitor how these changes affected
the release of HRP over a 24-hour time period. Through collaboration with another research
group in the Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE) department, mathematical
models describing the parameters versus protein release relationship were developed and
used to target specific protein release profiles. Such optimization techniques were necessary,
as each release profile experiment proved to be tedious and time-consuming. While this
internship did not alter my choice of concentration, computer science, it did provide me
with the invaluable experience of playing a major role in a professional research project.

50

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Abby Grosskopf 17

Chemical and Biological Engineering


Project:
Crystallization in Constrained Channels
Organization/Location:
Loo Organic and Polymer Electronics
Laboratory, Chemical and Biological
Engineering Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ

My internship with the Loo Group exposed me to the world of materials science and organic
electronics. This summer I worked with Triethylsilylethynyl anthradithiophene (TES ADT), a
solution-processable organic semiconductor. Thin films of TES ADT spherulites, a type of
crystal, have lots of exciting applications such as solar cells, and organic thin film transistors.
My task was to develop and refine methods for growing TES ADT in narrow channels. By
understanding more about the growth of TES ADT in channels, we hope to pattern electronics
in more elaborate and efficient ways to create new devices and save energy. Recently
collaborators in Mikko Haatajas group in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE)
department developed a computational model of TES ADT growth and theorized that below
a critical channel width, the crystallization process becomes arrested by physical forces. In
order to verify these results experimentally, I used patterning techniques to fabricate
constrained channels and observe the crystallization behavior of TES ADT. I learned new
lab techniques, data analysis skills, and the fundamentals of day-to-day laboratory research.
I have a new perspective on the vast amount of applications of chemical engineering in
scientific research, and hope to use what I learned this summer in future independent work.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

51

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Lynn Loo, Professor, Engineering and
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Stacey Huang 16

Electrical Engineering
Project:
Environmental Trace Gas Monitoring
Organization/Location:
Clausthal University of Technology, Germany

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Michael Khring, Technical University of
Clausthal

There is a continuing need for sensitive and durable gas sensors for use in fields such as
environmental monitoring and regulation of emissions. Quartz-Enhanced Photoacoustic
Spectroscopy (QEPAS) is a flexible technique that takes advantage of a quartz tuning fork
to sense pressure changes induced by modulated laser light in a gas sample. This technique
offers many advantages over traditional spectroscopy techniques and is an attractive
choice for countless applications. This summer, I worked at Clausthal University of Technology
to examine and further develop existing QEPAS technologies being built up for various
industry applications in gas sensing. I was able to work with both optical and electrical
components, running calibration tests on a laser used for methane sensing, testing optimal
LEDs for an ozone detection system, and finally constructing as well as optimizing existing
circuitry to be integrated in a system for measuring nitric oxide. By working alongside a
myriad of researchers, I was able to begin developing an effective approach toward problemsolving and working efficiently. I was able to gain both valuable first-hand as well as theoretical
knowledge, and I look forward to continuing down the road in the field of electronics and
laser spectroscopy.
52

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Elijah Kolmes 15
Physics

Project:
Innovative Fusion Confinement Concepts
Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL),
Princeton, NJ

The primary goal of my internship at PPPL was to study fast ion slowing-down rates in a
background plasma. I used software called LSP to simulate fast ions slowing down under
the conditions that might be found in a field-reversed configuration (FRC) device. FRCs are
a potential alternative to the mainline approach to magnetic confinement, with a couple
of significant advantages. Fast ion slowing-down is important to the performance of these
devices. I measured the dependence of the slowing-down rate on a number of factors,
including the charge of the fast ions and the density of the plasma. I also investigated a
couple of different properties of the simulation software itself. In particular, LSP simplifies
physical systems by clumping together individual particles into macroparticles, and I studied
the implications that this had for our results. During this summer, I learned a great deal about
computational plasma physics, and about scientific research in general. This project has
reinforced my interest in pursuing physics research in the future.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

53

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Samuel Cohen, Princeton Plasma Physics
Laboratory

Nicholas Lavrov 15

Chemical and Biological Engineering


Project:
Photochemistry at Hematite (Fe2O3) Surfaces
for Production of Renewable Hydrogen

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Koel Lab, Chemical and Biological
Engineering Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Bruce Koel, Professor, Chemical and
Biological Engineering

With the increasing costs of fossil fuels and the continual introduction of greenhouse gases
into the atmosphere, providing clean, renewable energy has become an intense area of
research. One alternative fuel source is hydrogen gas obtained from water splitting. In order
for hydrogen fuel to become a viable fuel source, however, efficient means of water splitting
must be developed. This summer, I worked in a lab with the goal of creating a catalyst that
would lower the voltage required to split water, making it more economically feasible. I
explored the use of plasma treatment to alter the surface of iron, nickel and cobalt foils to
reach this goal. I learned how to use characterization techniques such as electrochemical
tests, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron
spectroscopy (XPS) and applied my knowledge of chemistry to determine the effects of
the plasma on the metal surfaces. By the end of the summer, we saw minor improvements
in the water splitting efficiency. I was able to contribute to a growing body of research, and
I hope to see more improvements in this research in the future. I enjoyed putting to work
some of the concepts I have learned in my engineering courses.

54

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Jonathan Lin 17
Computer Science

Project:
Identifying Mechanisms for Pacific Warm Pool
Acidification with Earth System Models
Organization/Location:
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton
University, Princeton, NJ

This summer, I collaborated with Keith Rodgers of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
department in calculating the effects of human-induced changes on marine organisms
and ocean ecosystems. Specifically, we used the trends and noise of the ESM2M model to
calculate when ocean acidification, ocean warming, ocean de-oxygenation, and biological
changes would emerge and become measurable. This topic was especially important as
the cumulative impact of multiple stressors on ocean ecosystems may lead to damage far
more severe than that from individual threats alone. Throughout the summer, I definitely
gained an open perspective to what life is like as a graduate student in geosciences
(specifically atmospheric and oceanic science). I also gained many scientific critical thinking
skills, and developed a methodical approach to attacking scientific problems. Before this
summer I was already interested in atmospheric sciences, and this internship definitely
influenced my interest in the broader atmospheric and ocean system. I look forward to
taking more courses in these areas.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

55

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Stephan Fueglistaler, Professor, Geosciences;
Keith Rodgers, Research Scholar, Atmospheric
and Oceanic Sciences

Daniel Ma 17

Operations Research and Financial


Engineering
Project:
Measurement of Methane Leakage from
Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Mauzerall Group, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Denise Mauzerall, Professor, Civil and
Environmental Engineering and Public and
International Affairs
Although methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas (AOG) wells constitute a significant
percentage of total U.S. methane emissions, few attempts have been made to accurately
quantify these emissions. Working with a team of other students, I took methane samples
from AOG wells in western Pennsylvania. In order to accurately estimate methane emissions,
we designed, constructed, and prepared containers to collect and store these gas samples.
We also learned how to analyze gas samples via gas chromatography and how to quantify
the methane emissions. As a side project, I examined scientific research and historical data
in order to estimate the total number of AOG wells in Pennsylvania and the economic costs/
benefits of various strategies for mitigating emissions. These estimates were necessary for
accurately estimating statewide anthropogenic methane emissions and developing policy
recommendations for mitigating AOG wells in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States.
This internship has strengthened my interest in sustainable energy and the economics of
greenhouse gas mitigation. I will continue working on this project during the year and hope
to pursue a similar topic for my independent work.

56

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Ryan McNellis 15

Operations Research and Financial


Engineering
Project:
Estimating the Effect of High Levels of Wind
and Solar on the Transmission Grid
Organization/Location:
CASTLE Labs, Operations Research and
Financial Engineering Department, Princeton
University, Princeton, NJ

This past summer, I worked as a research intern in the Computational Stochastic Optimization
and Learning (CASTLE) lab based in the Operations Research and Financial Eningeering
(ORFE) department at Princeton University. My first project involved estimating the effect of
high levels of wind and solar energy on the transmission grid. Although renewable energy
sources have many environmental benefits, they are also harder to control; for example, an
unexpectedly cloudy day may result in having an insufficient amount of solar energy to
meet electricity demand. My research project was to estimate how much wind and solar
energy the transmission grid can handle before the probability of demand shortages becomes
too high. My second project entailed simulating realistic sample paths of offshore wind
power. Both projects heavily utilized skills that I have learned through the Princeton ORFE
curriculum, including Monte Carlo Simulation, Time Series analysis, and designing/calibrating
mathematical models. This internship provided me with the invaluable opportunity to work
on two research projects directly related to my chosen field of study and professional interests.
I really enjoyed my experience at CASTLE Lab this summer; I found the projects both challenging
and rewarding, and my work there solidified my interests in research and my commitment
to graduate study and a possible PhD in Operations Research.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

57

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Warren Powell, Professor, Operations Research
and Financial Engineering

Alana Miller 15

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Measurement of Methane Leakage from
Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Mauzerall Group, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Denise Mauzerall, Professor, Civil and
Environmental Engineering and Public and
International Affairs

The goal of this project was to better understand the methane fluxes from abandoned oil
and gas wells. Since the orders of magnitude of methane emissions vary so much from well
to well, it is important to gain more insight into the dynamics of these emissions to effectively
target the high emitting wells for immediate remediation efforts (i.e. proper plugging). Our
research involved taking direct measurements of the gas released from various wells in
Western Pennsylvania. As a group, we took two trips to locations in Potter, McKean, Lawrence,
Venango, and Allegheny counties. To measure the methane flux, we enclosed the wellhead
in a static multi-component chamber. After our return to campus, my role in the project was
to analyze the gas samples using flame ionization gas chromatography. I will be incorporating
this summers research into my senior thesis, where I will be focusing on the well samples
from Lawrence, Venango, and Allegheny counties.

58

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Jacob Miller 15

Chemical and Biological Engineering


Project:
Modeling Biomass-Based Transportation Fuels
with Negative CO2 Emissions
Organization/Location:
Princeton Environmental Institute Energy
Systems Analysis Group, Princeton, NJ

Turning agricultural waste products or energy crops like switchgrass (both which are
characterized as biomass, inedible plant matter) into fuel provides humanity a renewable,
plentiful source of energy to replace fossil fuel usage in a variety of applications. One critical
area in need of innovation is biomass conversion to transportation fuels. Currently, most
bio-based fuels in industrial production rely on processing sugars that come from plant parts
such as corn and sugarcane that can otherwise be used for human food consumption. This
is not sustainable, as it interferes with the worlds food supply. My summer project explored
computer modeling the methods for conversion of biomass to transportation fuels using
biochemical processes. By looking at different industrial plant configurations, I analyzed
several processes to make liquid transportation fuels through technological and economic
metrics. This helped the PEI Energy Systems Analysis Group initiate a multi-year project with
the goal of evaluating economic prospects of various industrial methods of making liquid
transportation fuels from biomass. This internship allowed me to further explore my interests
in the field of my major. I plan to attend graduate school, and this internship has made
research on biomass to biofuel processes an appealing area for me to pursue.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

59

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Eric Larson, Research Engineer, Princeton
Environmental Institute

Rachel Myers 15
Physics

Project:
Experimental Research on Lithium Plasma
Facing Component

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL),
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Robert Goldston, Professor, Astrophysical
Sciences

While nuclear fusion is a promising future source of energy, many challenges still exist with
regard to its implementation. One concern is the need to effectively control the heat and
particle flux leaving the fusion plasma, since it can potentially damage plasma-facing
components. This summer, I worked at PPPL investigating a new theoretical design for a
divertor: a device that intercepts heat and particles coming out of a fusion plasma. This
new model involved using the pressure of lithium vapor as a stopping mechanism for material
leaving the plasma. I used both dedicated fluid-modeling software and my own algorithms
to model the motion of the vapor and the trajectories of ions and electrons inside this vapor
box. This project required me to learn about numerical differential equation-solving
techniques as well as thermal and fluid dynamics. I learned about the process of starting a
project, as this design was novel, and about perseverance in the face of setbacks. I hope
to take inspiration from my summer work and build on what I have learned as I work with
Professor Goldston on my senior thesis this year.

60

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Derek Ou 15
Mathematics

Project:
Global Change and Primary Production in
Polar Waters
Organization/Location:
Morel Laboratory, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Diatoms are responsible for 20% of carbon fixation, and are therefore an important contributor
to the carbon cycle. However, their physiology, unlike that of plants, is not well understood.
This summer, I worked at the Morel Laboratory to investigate diel cycles in carbon fixation
and Ribulose 1,5 bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase (Rubisco) abundance in the marine
diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii (Tw). Rubisco is the enzyme that catalyzes CO2 fixation in the
first step of the Calvin Cycle and is widely recognized as the rate limiting step for photosynthesis,
making it attractive for study when investigating carbon fixation. I cultured Tw in sterile
seawater amended with Aquil nutrients, trace metals, and vitamins, acclimated my cultures
to a 12:12 day:night cycle, harvested the cells, and measured short-term rates of carbon
fixation and protein abundance using radioactive C-14 and Western Blotting, respectively.
I also used flow cytometry to investigate patterns in the rate of cell division and measured
photosynthetic efficiency using a Fluorescence Induction and Relaxation system. During
my experiments, I observed clear diel patterns in carbon fixation, protein abundance,
Rubisco abundance, cell division, and photosynthetic efficiency. As a mathematics student
who hopes to conduct more research in the biosciences in the future, I was able to gain
valuable research experience from this internship, and matured as a scientist.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

61

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Franois Morel, Professor, Geosciences

Kevin Pardinas 16

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Project:
SEE Properties of Plasma-Facing Components
for Fusion Applications

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL),
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Bruce Koel, Professor, Chemical and
Biological Engineering

Fusion energy has the possibility to change the world; it can provide a clean, safe, and
nearly limitless source of energy. I spent my summer at PPPL, one of the worlds leading
research institutions in the field of fusion energy. At PPPL, I studied the secondary electron
emission (SEE) properties of materials used in plasma reactions. I performed experiments in
a high-vacuum chamber to quantify and analyze secondary electronselectrons emitted
from materials that are bombarded with other electrons. I worked on improving the setup
and software needed to perform the measurements, allowing the results to become more
reproducible and reliable. My research is crucial for many fusion energy applications, as
the presence of secondary electrons can lead to adverse effects on plasma. My results can
help improve the modeling of plasma systems and fusion devices, and will be important for
continued research at PPPL on the ideal wall materials for Hall thrusters. This summer I learned
a vast amount about fusion energy and the nature of scientific research. I immensely enjoyed
my work. Being at PPPL fueled my interest in Hall thrusters; and I would like to research these
propulsion devices for my independent work in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering.
62

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Austin Pruitt 17

Mechanical Engineering
Project:
Butanol producing E. Coli
Organization/Location:
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Robert Austin, Professor of Physics

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

63

CLIMATE & ENERGY

This summer I initiated research into the concept of evolutionary dynamics and how they
can be used to modify microorganisms such as algae. Through this research we hope to
create algae that is hardier and is able to produce high levels of biofuels through photosynthesis.
I took care of and grew the algae we would be using in the experiment and I also performed
clean room training so that I could make the arrays that we used to sort the algae. Once
the algae were grown I also took pictures of them using our microscope and performed
analysis on their size distribution and other characteristics. During this project I gained several
skills such as creative thinking, improved use of logic, and in-depth analytical skills. I also
learned how to create things in a clean room environment, how to grow and care for a
culture, and most importantly, how to adapt to and make the most out of failures during
the process. Although I may not use the information I learned through my research as a part
of my major or career, the insight into problem-solving and the knowledge I gained through
this experience has had a lasting impact.

Sarah Sacco 16

Chemical and Biological Engineering


Project:
Environmental Behavior of Indium, an Element
Critical to Emerging Energy Technologies

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Myneni Lab, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Sarah Jane White, Visiting Associate Research
Scholar, Geosciences

This summer I worked on a project concerning the environmental behavior of indium, a


trace metal used in high-tech applications. I studied the relationship between indium and
a common iron oxide, ferrihydrite, which are both found in natural waters. Indium usage
has seen a boom in the last few years due to the high-tech nature of its applications in solar
cells, touch screens, LCDs, and semiconductors. However, there are no published studies
concerning the relationship between indium and ferrihydrite, and there is very limited
information about the aqueous behavior, environmental impacts, and health effects of
indium. My goal over the summer was to find the sorption constant that is characteristic of
indium and ferrihydrite. I did literature research to come up with the best experimental setup
to answer this question, then carried out this experiment under varying conditions to better
support our conclusions. I learned a lot about aqueous chemistry, and gleaned skills critical
to lab work such as how to keep a proper lab notebook, use certain instruments, and manage
when things do not go as planned. This internship helped to solidify my plans to attend
graduate school and pursue a career in research. I will be continuing my work on this project
during the school year.
64

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Kasturi Shah 16
Physics

Project:
Evolution of Himalayan Glaciers under
Changing Climate Conditions, Peru
Organization/Location:
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
(GFDL), Princeton, NJ

The goal of my summer internship was to investigate the evolution of Himalayan glaciers
under changing climate conditions. Using raw data from automated weather stations in
the Himalayas as well as climate model output from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics
Laboratory (GFDL), I investigated the correlation between temperature and precipitation
over the last 60 years and developed an ablation and mass-balance model for glaciers,
specific to the region of the Himalayas that they were in. I then began work on investigating
the relationship between temperature and precipitation using predictions from the model
to forecast the future evolution of glaciers. I really enjoyed working on a self-driven research
project, and the range of seminars and discussions at GFDL and the Atmospheric and
Oceanic Sciences program was extremely stimulating! I intend to continue this research
for either a junior paper or my senior thesis.

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

65

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Olga Sergienko, Research Glaciologist,
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Emily Shuldiner 16

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Can Herbivory Control the Tropical Forest
Sink?

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Medvigy Group, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Lars Hedin, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; David Medvigy,
Professor, Geosciences; Sarah Batterman,
Postdoctoral Research Associate
This summer, I worked in the Medvigy Geosciences Group, editing the Ecosystem Demography
(ED2) atmospheric model to incorporate the effects of selective insect herbivory in Panamanian
rainforests, observed by Suchana Costa in her 2014 senior thesis. This thesis noted that insects
consume nitrogen-fixing plants at a rate approximately three times that with which they
consume non-fixers. Specifically, I used the model to examine how expected rises in
atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels coupled with the observed herbivory pattern
would impact forest composition and nutrient cycling. I compared data from versions of
the model with varied herbivory rates and plant types to attempt to infer the mechanisms
underlying the forests response to elevated CO2 levels, but my internship ended before I
could reach a conclusion. During the internship I learned a tremendous amount about
forest ecology and gained a new appreciation for the complexity and fragility of all terrestrial
ecosystems. I also gained programming experience working in Terminal, R, Fortran, and
Emacs, and gained experience handling the logistics of working with large quantities of
data and Princetons remote computing center, TIGRESS. I left my internship excited to
continue to study ecology and to explore the applications of computer modeling to all
areas of biology.
66

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Levi Stanton 15

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Mobile Measurements of Methane Emissions,
China and Colorado
Organization/Location:
Zondlo Group, Civil and Environmental
Engineering Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ

Air pollutant models tend to be accurate when looking at a large-scale area, but when
one compares data from near a source to what the model predicts for that area, a great
discrepancy can be seen. Understanding pollutants near the source is extremely crucial,
as a higher-than-accounted-for concentration of pollutants could cause local ecosystem
damage and unsafe air quality. This summer in conjunction with Professor Mark Zondlos
group, I utilized a suite of sensors including systems used to measure methane (CH4), ammonia
(NH3), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), water vapor, as well as temperature, humidity,
and pressure to spatially map pollution in both China and Colorado. The suite of sensors
were mounted on a small SUV, which allowed us to explore a variety of interests including:
waste water treatment plants, compressed and liquid natural gas vehicles, concentrated
animal feeding operations (CAFOs; cattle and dairy), and oil and natural gas drilling and
processing sites. In Colorado the group was part of NASAs DISCOVER-AQ campaign, which
aimed to correlate air quality data between satellites, aircraft, ground stations, and mobile
laboratories like ours. After completing this campaign, I am looking forward to working with
Professor Zondlo on my senior thesis, which will investigate the massive amount of data we
gathered during our time in Colorado.
2014 Environmental Research Experiences

67

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Mark Zondlo, Professor, Civil and
Environmental Engineering

Rebecca Terrett 16

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Phenology of Coral Pigments Via Bio-Optics

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS),
Bermuda
Adviser(s):
Eric Hochberg, Associate Scientist, Bermuda
Institute of Oceanic Sciences

Coral bleaching, the phenomenon of corals turning white under stress, is a well-studied
area of coral pigmentation. Yet little else is known about the connection between coral
pigments and environmental conditions. Preliminary work in this field suggests that the
relationship is not fixed; in fact there appear to be season-dependent trends. This summer
I spent 12 weeks at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) helping to study this
dynamic relationship by measuring the concentration of chlorophyll in individual corals as
well as water temperature every day. Chlorophyll concentration was determined through
noninvasive measurements of reflectance using bio-optic techniques. While we anticipated
an increase in water temperature to be correlated to a drop in pigmentation for the summer
months, we saw an increase in pigmentation, prompting interest in carrying out a multi-year
study. Not only did I gain insight into the day-to-day work of marine biologists, but through
this internship I also learned how to properly design and conduct my own experiments and
research. Although I do not plan to focus on marine science, this internship has encouraged
me to pursue a career in scientific research.

68

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Aditya Trivedi 16
Physics

Project:
A Web-Based Wind Electricity
Organization/Location:
Climate Central, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Eric Larson, Research Engineer, Princeton
Environmental Institute

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

69

CLIMATE & ENERGY

This summer, I developed a web-based tool to predict wind energy generation and its
potential. Using publicly available data from the National Weather Service and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, I created an interface that allows a user to specify a location
as well as a distance from that location to search for wind farms. The program outputs a
six-day forecast of wind energy generation as well as a farm-by-farm breakdown for each
day. If users are interested in the potential for further wind energy generation, they can
instead input a location (or click on a map) to determine how many wind turbines could
be installed in a 400-square-mile area with their location at the center. The tool supports
both land-based and offshore turbine locations, even though no wind farms of the latter
are currently online. The tool will be deployed as a part of Climate Centrals larger media
strategy to inform the public on matters of climate and energy importance. The project
exposed me to the various challenges associated with using interactive media to inform
the public about wind energy. Due to the heavy utilization of computer programming my
project required, my summer project also piqued my interest in computer science, and led
me to pursue the computer science certificate.

Matthew Walsh 15

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Project:
Innovative Fusion Confinement Concepts

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL),
Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Samuel Cohen, Princeton Plasma Physics
Laboratory

This summer, I investigated the shielding requirements for a future small-scale fusion reactor,
the PFRC-4, currently being developed by Samuel Cohen at PPPL. The reactor will burn
Deuterium-Helium-3 with a power density of about one megawatt per meter of reactor
length. It will serve as a propulsion system for space missions to other planets. The shielding
needs to protect delicate components of the reactor, most importantly the superconducting
coils, from neutron flux. Boron carbide was the material selected for shielding due to its large
cross-section for neutron interactions. Using a particle simulation software, I simulated the
operation of the reactor and used various configurations of shielding to find the minimum
sufficient amount of shielding, which is important because mass will be a concern for space
missions. Shielding thicknesses of less than 50cm were sufficient to give the superconductors
a lifetime of 30 years or more, and with more shielding, it could even be safe for a human
operator to be in the room during testing. I gained a lot of research experience through this
internship, and Im subsequently leaning heavily toward pursuing a graduate degree.

70

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Olivia Watson 15
Chemistry

Project:
Photochemistry at Hematite (Fe2O3) Surfaces
for Production of Renew- able Hydrogen
Organization/Location:
Koel Lab, Chemical and Biological
Engineering Department, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ

As a member of the photoelectrocatalysis (PEC) team in the Koel research lab, I helped with
the characterization of various plasma-treated metal surfaces in the pursuit to identify a
catalytic surface that would improve the efficiency of the water splitting reaction. In the
same way that leaves perform photosynthesis to convert solar energy into glucose, a successful
catalyst would facilitate the conversion of solar energy to chemical energy via the splitting
of water molecules into hydrogen (usable for fuel). I found this research to be an exciting
vantage point in the field of alternative energy because it could allow for more universal
access to fossil fuel substitutes. It was also an invaluable opportunity for me to better understand
the tools used to investigate surface science, including electrochemical cells, Scanning
Electron Microscopy (SEM), Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy
(XPS). I look forward to using all my new skills for my Chemistry thesis!

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

71

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Adviser(s):
Bruce Koel, Professor, Chemical and
Biological Engineering

Jack Zhou 15

Woodrow Wilson School


Project:
Subtropical Ocean Productivity in a Warming
World

CLIMATE & ENERGY

Organization/Location:
Sigman Lab, Geosciences Department,
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Daniel Sigman, Professor, Geosciences

This summer I interned in the Sigman Lab at Princeton University where I worked on the
nutrient cycle between corals and their photosynthetic symbionts and how it changes in a
warming world. One of the most salient signs of global warming is coral bleaching, the
phenomena where corals eject their symbionts in response to a change in temperature
and transform a coral reef into a bleach-white expanse of calcium carbonate. My tasks this
summer included calibrating an Elemental Analyser to be sensitive to isotopic differences
at the nano-mole scale, establishing a procedure for coral-symbiont separation and analyzing
samples for isotopic differentials. I also spent a week in Bermuda collecting samples for my
analysis. I experienced firsthand how fieldwork is accomplished and the importance of
teamwork and communication while out in the field. I wish that I had partaken in this internship
earlier in my Princeton career, as it would have definitely changed my academic trajectory.
Nonetheless, this internship was an extremely rewarding experience and I am grateful that
I had the chance to conduct scientific fieldwork and research before I graduate.

72

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Development

Aubree Andres 17
Undeclared

Project:
Habitat Restoration: Rangeland and Wildlife
Project
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

73

DEVELOPMENT

I worked at the Mpala Research Centre outside of Nanyuki, Kenya for six weeks with Professor
Dan Rubenstein. For this project, I went out with my research partners every day to collect
data in the field. We were looking for a legacy of a holistic grazing system (cows would
graze intensely for two-week periods of time on small plots of land during the rainy season)
on the land where local goats and sheep were grazing during the dry season. Some days
we would be weighing the goats and sheep to track their growth, and other days we would
be running vegetation diversity/biomass transects to examine the plant life found in areas
that were used for holistic grazing and in areas that were not used. Over the course of six
weeks, I was able to fully take over the data collection part of this project, which is a skill
and responsibility that I never would have learned had I not worked with PEI. If I do choose
to major in EEB at Princeton, I would love to continue with this research for a junior paper
and senior thesis topic.

Benjamin Culver 16

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Ecosystem spatial pattern and development
opportunities in African rangelands
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya

DEVELOPMENT

Adviser(s):
Robert Pringle, Professor, Geosciences

This summer, Katie Grabowski and I were interns for Professor Rob Pringle. We primarily worked
with one of his graduate students on research for his doctoral dissertation. We studied three
species of plants in the Kenyan rangelands within a genus called Barleria. Our main focus
was to attempt to see if there were noticeable differences within each of the same species
when they were growing unassociated (isolated, at least 1m from other plants) versus
associated (growing in association with another larger plant that provides extra protection).
We found that associated plants seem to invest less in plant defense and more in height
and leaf area. The data collection is ongoing; we set up a number of manipulation experiments
to determine the mechanism by which this observation is produced (shade, water loss,
herbivory, etc.). Some of these manipulations include trimming larger trees growing in
association with a Barleria species to remove the association and create an unassociated
plant, and cutting off all of the spines on Barleria to determine their effectiveness in defending
against grazing. This experience helped introduce me to the ecological research career
path; however, I learned that I would like to be involved with more policy-associated areas.

74

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Katie Grabowski 16

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Ecosystem spatial pattern and development
opportunities in African rangelands
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Robert Pringle, Professor, Geosciences

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

75

DEVELOPMENT

I spent this summer at the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya. This was my first opportunity to
do field research, and I was fortunate to be able to assist with two research projects. The
first project involved working with Tyler Coverdale, an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
(EEB) PhD candidate. We looked at the genus Barleria, a spiny shrub found in African
savannas. We asked how the plant decides whether to invest more in protection or growth.
To answer this question, we gathered data on several aspects of the plants size and defenses
in different sub habitats (for example, in a protected enclosure or associated with a spiny
tree versus out in the open). The second project involved looking at ecosystem spatial
patterning. We looked at termite mounds and how the productivity of an area varies in
correlation with its nearness to the closest mound. There are also many other factors that
affect this patterning, and we are working to model the ecosystem better so that its response
to future climate events might be better predicted. I learned how to set up experiments and
collect data in the field. I know that this experience will be invaluable when I start work on
my senior thesis.

Devansh Gupta 17
Electrical Engineering

Project:
Muchebe Community Water Project, Kenya
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton
University, Kenya

DEVELOPMENT

Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering

This summer, as part of the implementation team of the Princeton University Chapter of
Engineers Without Borders, I worked on providing clean, accessible drinking water to the
residents in the community of Muchebe, Kenya. I helped design and build a 67,500L rainwater
catchment system that harvested water from the roof of Muchebe Primary School. The work
involved installing gutters along the roofs, laying underground piping around the school,
excavating trenches and pits, building lowered concrete foundations to place the storage
tanks on, and constructing roofed water dispensing systems. We taught the residents how
to maintain the system, and held comprehensive training sessions to encourage the community
to incorporate better sanitation practices. This trip was an immensely valuable experience
for me, and I will cherish the time I got to spend living with the community. During this project,
I got a first-hand view of some of the major international development challenges that our
world faces today. But more importantly, I saw how sustainable engineering projects can
make a real impact on overcoming these challenges by providing basic necessities, like
safe drinking water, to the millions of people who dont have access to them. This experience
reaffirmed my decision to pursue engineering at Princeton University.
76

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Brendan Hung 17

Operations Research and Financial


Engineering
Project:
Muchebe Community Water Project, Kenya
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton
University, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

77

DEVELOPMENT

The Kenya team of the Princeton University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders is working
on providing clean, accessible drinking water to the residents in the community of Muchebe,
Kenya. As part of a five-year commitment with the local community, our team helped design
and build a 67,500L rainwater catchment system that harvested water from the roof of
Muchebe Primary School. This project involved installing gutters along the roofs, laying pipes
around the school and excavating a pit for our storage tanks. We worked alongside community
members in building the system out of locally available materials. Additionally, we taught
them both how to maintain the system and also how to develop better sanitation. This trip
was an immensely valuable chance for us to learn about international development
challenges as well as ways to run a sustainable engineering program within a community.
Looking forward, we hope that by raising awareness of the risks of poor hygiene and
waterborne illnesses, community members will encourage other members to share proper
sanitary practices. This will, in turn, allow the members of the community to be healthier
and thus be able to work and go to school.

Haley Lane 16

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Climate Change Impacts on SnowmeltDependent Agricultural Systems Near Mount
Kenya
Organization/Location:
Caylor Ecohydrology Lab, Princeton University,
Kenya

DEVELOPMENT

Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Drew Gower, Civil and
Environmental Engineering
The area surrounding Mt. Kenya is unique due to the sharp precipitation gradient the peak
generates. Because of this precipitation disparity intrinsic to the Laikipia Plateau, the region
is home to both large scale industrial farming and communities afflicted by serious drought.
The overarching goal of this project was to determine water availability in both upstream
and downstream communities and to assess the relative effectiveness of the governmental
structures that systematize local water usage. In addition to collaborating with local
government officials, my work centered on profiling the stream systems flowing down from
Mt. Kenya. For seven weeks, our group focused on gauging flow rates at ten different sites
along the Nanyuki River and its tributaries, the Likii and Timau. For the final two weeks, we
focused on testing water and plant samples for both isotope and turbidity analysis. This
internship offered me the chance to gain valuable experience in both field work and lab
analysis. Moreover, it exposed me to the diverse culture and extraordinary ecology inherent
to Kenya. This experience has inspired me to pursue thesis research based on fieldwork, and
it also fostered a personal interest in sustainable development that I will carry with me as I
consider future career goals.
78

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Jessica Luo 15

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Muchebe Community Water Project
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton
University, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

79

DEVELOPMENT

The Kenya team of the Princeton University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders is working
on providing clean, accessible drinking water to the residents in the community of Muchebe,
Kenya. As part of a five-year commitment to the local community, our team helped design
and build a 67,500L rainwater catchment system that harvested water from the roof of
Muchebe Primary School. This project involved installing gutters along the roofs, laying pipes
around the school and excavating a pit for our storage tanks. We worked alongside community
members in building the system out of locally available materials. Additionally, we taught
them both how to maintain the system and also how to develop better sanitation. This trip
was an immensely valuable chance for us to learn about international development
challenges as well as ways to run a sustainable engineering program within a community.
Looking forward, we hope that by raising awareness of the risks of poor hygiene and
waterborne illnesses, community members will encourage others to share proper sanitary
practices. This will, in turn, allow the members of the community to be healthier and thus
be able to work and go to school.

Dee Luo 16
Psychology

Project:
Using Crowdsourcing and Big Data to
Understand Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa
Organization/Location:
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

DEVELOPMENT

Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Lyndon Estes, Associate
Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School;
Stephanie Debats, Ph.D. Candidate, Civil and
Environmental Engineering
The Mapping Africa project was formed as an initiative to collect a more accurate
understanding of farmland distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, the project uses
crowd-sourcing to collect mapped data, which can be costly and inefficient. This summer,
I worked with PhD student Stephanie Debats to develop a random forest algorithm to take
satellite imagery of land in South Africa and accurately classify fields based on feature
extraction. This type of land classification has not been explored much in the merging fields
of remote sensing and computer vision. To accomplish this task, I learned about methods
and applications of image segmentation, image processing techniques, and pixel-based
feature classification. On the side, I also worked in R and QGIS to do spatial analysis on
LANDSAT imagery as well as to build our available testing data for classification. Through
this internship, I have been able to gain a stronger foundation in MATLAB programming and
machine learning algorithms which I hope to continue to develop to help prepare me for
a career in the technology industry, and to better understand and work toward solving
global issues.

80

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Dayton Martindale 15
Astrophysical Sciences

Project:
The Food Project Analysis of Dining Services
Purchases and Food Miles Carbon Project
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; Nancy Rubenstein,
Princeton Environmental Institute

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

81

DEVELOPMENT

The Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs, formed through Mpala Research Centres ties with
local schools, are experiential after-school sessions that teach children basic biology and
Earth science. For six weeks I stayed at Mpala and helped teach these classes, engaging
in interactive lessons that included games, artistic projects, and experiments. Once I had
returned to Princeton, I took what I learned to help develop a modified Conservation Club
curriculum for U.S. classrooms. We had to adapt to Americas science standards, as well as
make the lesson plans accessible to an audience that sees more deer than zebras. While
I am majoring in astrophysics, Im interested in science communication more broadly. This
was a beautiful opportunity for me to explore a science I havent focused on as much at
Princeton, and share it with others in a fun and accessible way. The focus on pressing
environmental issues gave the work special social significance, making it particularly
meaningful. I am more committed than ever to spreading science to people all over the
world, and in so doing perhaps aid the creation of a just and sustainable society.

Taylor Morgan 16

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Climate Change Impacts on SnowmeltDependent Agricultural Systems, Mount Kenya
Organization/Location:
Caylor Ecohydrology Lab, Princeton University,
Kenya

DEVELOPMENT

Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Drew Gower, Ph.D. Candidate,
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Along with fellow intern Haley Lane, I spent nine weeks in central Kenya this past summer
conducting both field and lab work for PhD student Drew Gower. We looked at local climatedependent water availability from rivers flowing through and around Nanyuki, Kenya, coming
off of centrally located Mount Kenya. Our field work included taking measurements of depth
and water velocity along several locations of the river in order to determine flow, collecting
water samples for analysis, and interacting and working side-by-side with local community
members. Laboratory work included analysis of both water sample isotopes and water
turbidity. Along with all of the fieldwork and research experience I gained this past summer,
I also gained insight into a culture much different from my own, I am extremely grateful for
this experience. The local community was welcoming and quite interested in our research,
which I found encouraging and one of the most rewarding pieces of my work. This internship
helped me realize all of the incredible directions I could take a with degree from the Civil
and Environmental Engineering department. This was my first real experience conducting
research, both through fieldwork and lab work, and I really enjoyed both of these parts of
the research process. In the future I hope to incorporate these types of hands-on methods
into my thesis and ideally into my career as well.
82

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Anchal Padukone 16

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Habitat Restoration: Rangeland and Wildlife
Project
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

83

DEVELOPMENT

This summer, while based at the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya, I studied the effects of
holistic cattle management on livestock and rangeland health, peoples livelihoods, and
on wildlife. Holistic grazing methods involve concentrating livestock in small areas and
moving them frequently across grazing patches. This method is used to aid soil water and
nutrient flow, and to prevent the long-term depletion of grass cover caused by continuous
grazing over an area. In two neighboring group ranches that had employed different grazing
systems, I studied several possible effects of holistic grazing: on biodiversity, overall plant
cover, livestock milk yields and growth rates, and animal movement and distribution patterns.
I also conducted some preliminary statistical analyses of our collected data, which suggested
higher biodiversity and plant cover in the holistic grazing area. I honed a wide range of
analytical and fieldwork-related skills, and grew familiar with equipment and software I had
never used before. I had the opportunity to speak with scientists and students from a variety
of backgrounds, and learned about the wide scope of research being pursued at Mpala.
From this valuable summer experience, I gained a deeper appreciation for ecology and
field biology. I hope to continue studying savannah ecosystems for my senior thesis and
beyond.

Annelies Paine 16

Woodrow Wilson School


Project:
Teaching Assistant for Conservation Clubs
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya

DEVELOPMENT

Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; Nancy Rubenstein,
Princeton Environmental Institute

During my PEI internship I worked as a teacher for the Northern Kenyan Conservation Clubs,
an after-school program that promotes conservation and sustainability through experiential
learning. My colleagues and I prepared and taught lessons for primary and secondary
school students on a variety of topics from evolution to endangered species that utilized
hands-on experiences such as games, scavenger hunts, and outdoor activities. We also
helped to organize the annual Community Conservation Day, which brought together
students, teachers, parents, and community members to share conservation projects such
as alternative cooking methods, tree planting, and approaches to soil erosion. The highlight
of my summer was our Indigenous Knowledge Project, where we invited community elders
to share their memories of the wildlife and the landscape in the area, and how it has changed
over time. This project showed me, as well as my students, how Kenya has been affected
by poaching, population growth, climate change, and invasive species at a local level.
My experience working with the Northern Conservation Clubs will be invaluable as I study
development and politics at Princeton.

84

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Marcus Spiegel 17

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Project:
Soils in Africa: Effects of Salinization on Vertisol
Patterns in Central Kenya
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Keita DeCarlo, Ph.D. Candidate,
Civil and Environmental Engineering

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

85

DEVELOPMENT

Desiccation cracking in the black cotton soils of Kenya influences both the flow of water
into the ground and the drying of the soil. An understanding of these physical processes is
integral to our knowledge of the water cycle and Earth-atmosphere greenhouse gas
exchange. As a research assistant this summer in the Caylor Lab, I was investigating how
biological factorsspecifically vegetation, animal compaction, and the presence of termite
moundsinfluence the depth and extensiveness of these crack networks in the swelling
soil. In order to characterize these crack networks, my research group poured resin, a twopart liquid substance that hardens when mixed, into cracks in areas of soil that had been
affected by the biological factors we were studying. We excavated the resulting casts and
generated digital representations of them using medical magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI). Through this research, I gained insight into how different climate and environmental
factors can affect lands physical processes. Furthermore, I learned how to systematically
conduct experiments in the field and how to use computer programming to perform image
analysis. This project has kindled my interest in a career in which I can spend time conducting
research outdoors.

Alex Wheatley 16

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Project:
Teaching Assistant for Conservation Clubs
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya

DEVELOPMENT

Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; Nancy Rubenstein,
Princeton Environmental Institute

As a teaching assistant with the Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs, I taught ecology,
biology, and the basic principles of conservation to schoolchildren in 11 rural schools in
Laikipia County. The program also works with teachers to promote experiential learning
techniques. The goal of the Conservation Clubs is to equip the next generation of herders
and pastoralists with the information they will need to reduce human-wildlife conflict, improve
resource conservation, and ultimately make herding and grazing more sustainable. My
duties included planning, organizing, and preparing lessons, and then teaching these lessons
in the Conservation Clubs each afternoon. This program showed me the many challenges
that hinder conservation efforts in Kenyafrom charcoal burning and retaliation killing to
bad roads and poor communication. However, I was inspired by the kids in the club every
day; their knowledge of and visions for their community, county, and country gave me hope
for a more sustainable future. I left this summer certain that I want to incorporate teaching
into my life after college (as a teacher, tutor, or coach) and resolute to continue my education
as a global citizen.

86

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

Helen Yang 15
English

Project:
The Food Project Analysis of Dining Services
Purchases and Food Miles Carbon Project
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology; Nancy Rubenstein,
Princeton Environmental Institute

2014 Environmental Research Experiences

87

DEVELOPMENT

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in an internship that was created through
the collaboration between Program in Teacher Preparation and PEI. Our primary goal was
to bridge communication and experiential learning about conservation and the environment
between the Kenyan and American classrooms. For six weeks, we observed classrooms of
Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs. It was fascinating to learn the culture of environmental
conservation in Kenya, especially because the natural landscape is so rich in biodiversity.
How the Kenyan people viewed what we call environmental stewardship, if and how these
concepts were taught in communities, and the relationship the people had with natural
resources lent a new light to my own knowledge and perception of environmental
policymaking, especially as a global effort. For another four weeks, we returned to the
United States to create a curriculum that could capture the Kenyan classroom experience,
but also could be widely accessible and relevant to American students and teachers. During
this time, I was able to learn and better grasp what being a teacher entailed, and how to
create lesson plans that could engage and motivate students. This internship helped me
think about my thesis because it opened my perspective on what it means to interpret
nature and environmental stewardship through different cultures.

Katherine Zhao 17
Undecided

Project:
Water and Isotopes in Central Kenya
Organization/Location:
Caylor Ecohydrology Lab, Princeton University,
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya

DEVELOPMENT

Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Professor, Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Hilary Wayland, Ph.D.
Candidate, Civil and Environmental
Engineering

This summer, I worked at Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya as an intern studying the
photosynthetic characteristics of the African Acacia trees. I learned to use instruments such
as the Li-Cor 6400 to record photosynthesis and transpiration rates. Tracking rates of
photosynthesis and transpiration throughout the day, we learned about the vulnerability of
Acacia leaves to drought and water stress. By exploring how carbon fixation and stomatal
conductance vary with leaf age, we can understand more about the interaction of this
plant with water in its environment. I learned a lot about the methods of data collection
and fieldwork, and how to evaluate the relationships between keystone plants, their
environments, and the availability of water in their surrounding areas. In addition to exposing
me to field research, this internship also allowed me to explore the natural environment of
the central Kenya highlandsthe elephant herds that roam through Mpala, and the wild
dog packs and elusive cheetahs and lions that prowl about. I also made friends with Kenyan
students and researchers, sharing our cultures with each other around the dinner table,
safely inside the fences of Mpala.

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2014 Environmental Research Experiences

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Funding for the 2014 environmental research experiences was generously provided by the
following supporters:

Arthur M. Crocker 31 Fund in PEI
PEIs Directors Fund (Anonymous)
Smith-Newton Undergraduate Research Fund in PEI
Sandra Wilson W56 Fund in PEI

Affiliated academic and administrative offices collaborating with PEI to assure the success
of the internship program include the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the
Keller Center, the Office of Career Services, the Office of the Dean of the College, Princeton
in Asia, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, the Office of General Counsel, and
University Health Services. We are grateful to the many individuals whose efforts have shaped
and advanced this years program.

Front Cover: Zoe Sims 17


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