Our New Name

Check out our special page with details about our change to HMEI and our many activities since March 2020

The Princeton Energy and Climate Scholars (PECS) program, administered by the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI), brings together a select interdisciplinary group of Princeton Ph.D. students with research expertise ranging from climate science and energy policy to environmental humanities.

PECS enhances the research experience of Princeton’s graduate students by encouraging them to transcend the boundaries of their fields and by fostering a sense of common intellectual adventure. Drawing from a broad range of disciplines, PECS students and members of the Faculty Board thoughtfully approach multifaceted energy and climate challenges of the 21st century.

Learn more about our mission and activities.

The PECS student body includes 15-20 Ph.D. students. An individual’s membership is for a maximum of two-years. Each year, the turnover includes about half of the group to ensure continuity among group members.

The PECS Faculty Board comprises 10 to 15 faculty members. In addition to interactions and group activities, members of the Faculty Board serve as sponsors of the group and provide guidance and advice to the group when needed.

See our current PECS Student and Faculty Directory.

Students meet once a month, over lunch or dinner, to share research results and to introduce their work to one another. In these informal discussions, students have the opportunity to probe topics that are remote from their own research. The students meet a second time each month over dinner with the PECS Faculty Board. These dinners either highlight the research of a Faculty Board member or that of a visiting guest.

PECS fellows engage in group-oriented outreach initiatives. Such activities may include career-oriented and science-education based events at high schools and other local colleges. PECS Fellows are eligible to receive a $1,000 allowance to support their research and professional development. The $1,000 allowance can be collected at any time after the fall semester of the first year of PECS membership as long as those conditions are met and the student has demonstrated active participation in the groups meetings, projects and/or outreach activities.

Application dates for 2021

Applications for 2021 are closed. Recipients will be posted in September.

Membership in PECS is by competitive application. Selection is made by representatives of the faculty and PECS student leadership. PECS students represent many disciplines within the university. Highly motivated graduate students from all departments are encouraged to apply.

Prioritized criteria for selection of new PECS members includes:

  • Quality of the applicant’s research
  • Demonstrated interest in broader aspects of the climate and energy problem
  • Diversifying mix of students in the group

Because PECS is largely governed by its student members, the selection process gives considerable weight to indications that a student likes to volunteer and take initiative. Candidates self-nominate and are required to prepare a summary description of their research (< 500 words) including its intersections with energy and climate, and to explain how they would contribute to the PECS community and why they would want to attend the various PECS events (< 500 words). A letter of recommendation from their primary advisor highlighting their qualifications and motivations for joining the group is also required.

PECS membership is a two-year commitment. An invitation to participate in the 2nd year of PECS requires that candidates, in their 1st year of PECS, attended most of the lunches/dinners AND either demonstrated active participation in one project or completed one outreach visit. Typically, only post-generals Ph.D. students are eligible for participation, but special cases will be considered.

For questions regarding the PECS program, please contact HMEI Undergraduate/Graduate Program Manager Amber Lee

Claudia Brunner, PECS Student Committee Chair, Graduate Student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Gabriel Vecchi, PECS Faculty Coordinator, Director of the High Meadows Environmental Institute, Professor of Geosciences and the High Meadows Environmental Institute