Alumni - Student

  • Aguirre, Jonathan (‘17 - ‘19)

    Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures

    Jonathan C. Aguirre is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. He studies environmental history, literature, and politics in the Andes region of South America focusing on mechanisms of land dispossession formulated during the progressive cycle of politics of the 21st century. He is particularly interested in the state violence and erasure economies that occur in the construction of utopian ecological imaginaries. In addition, he studies environmental racism and inequality in the United States concentrating specifically on the representation of pollution-induced diseases in Latinx literature and film.

  • Alkon, Meir (‘17 - ‘19)

    Woodrow Wilson School


    Meir is a joint PhD candidate in the Department of Politics and the Woodrow Wilson School. A core theme of his research is the domestic politics of energy and the environment in large developing countries, specifically China and India, and their implications for climate change and global environmental governance. This research has spanned topics including India’s groundwater access and use; the political behavior basis of support for energy subsidies; the political economy of rural electrification programs; the public opinion consequences of urban air pollution; and the intergovernmental bargaining behind coal-fired and renewable power in China. His work in these areas combines insights from international and comparative political economy with an interdisciplinary approach.

  • Azar, Jose (‘09 - ‘12)


    José’s research interest lies in studying the incentives to increase the adoption of clean energy energy-saving technology by the general public. His current research is focused on using the tools of time series econometrics to study the joint dynamics of oil prices and public interest in electric cars and other alternative technologies in the transportation sector.

  • Baker, Rachel (‘15 - ‘17)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Rachel’s research combines climate and socioeconomic data to investigate how climate affects livelihoods in developing countries. In particular she is interested in how climactic variations affect employment and migration in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research hopes to inform predictions regarding the future impact of climate change in this region. Rachel has an undergraduate degree in physics and a master’s in applied mathematics from Cambridge University.

  • Baldwin, Jane (‘15 - ‘16)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    Jane studies jointly between Princeton’s Atmospheric and Oceanic Science program and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, where she is advised by Dr. Gabriel Vecchi. In her research, she uses a combination of dynamical climate models and atmospheric observations to elucidate the ties between global and regional climate, and move towards useful predictions of climate change at regional levels. Inspired by previous study in China and interests in environmental policy and history, she is currently studying the extratropical arid regions that stretch across interior Asia. She hopes to improve understanding of the controls on this region’s basic climate, as a prerequisite to examining its environmental change.

  • Batterman, Sarah (‘11 - ‘13)

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    Sarah studies nutrient limitation on primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems. Her work focuses on symbiotic nitrogen fixation, what controls its prevalence, and how patterns of fixation change across heterogeneous tropical forests. She finds symbiotic fixation particularly fascinating not only because plants can use it to bypass the soil to get essential nitrogen and build up nitrogen in the ecosystem, but also because it could help tropical forests store more carbon as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise. This would offset some of the world’s carbon emissions.

  • Bennett, Joshua (‘13 - ‘14)


    Joshua’s academic interest include, but are not limited to, black studies, disability theory, performance, and eco-criticism. He is interested in the way 20th century African American writers employ ecological metaphor as a means of theorizing black ontology, or, in other words, how these authors think about black nature writing as part of an ongoing conversation with various, often deeply problematic, kinds of scientific and philosophical writing about the nature of blackness and black social life.

  • Bilgir, Ozlem (‘10 - ‘11)

    Electrical Engineering

    Ozlem’s research focuses on decreasing the energy consumption and the carbon footprint of Data Centers. Data Centers’ energy consumption was around 60billion kWh in 2006 and this amount will be doubled between 2006 and 2011. Moreover, data centers cause even more carbon emissions than some countries. By using the resources efficiently, the energy consumption and the carbon emission can be reduced. Currently, Ozlem is working on the Chip Multiprocessor (CMP) technologies and exploring alternative ways to manage the cores in a way to contribute to the reduction in the energy consumption.

  • Bozym, David (D.J.) (‘12 - ‘14)

    Chemical and Biological Engineering

    D.J.’s research is focused on tackling a piece of the energy storage problem by improving the energy density of ultracapacitors, electronic devices which store energy in the form of static charge. To accomplish this, he aims to engineer high surface area electrodes using functionalized graphene sheets (FGSs), atomic planes of defective carbon lattices, and ionic liquids, room temperature liquid salts. On the science side, he is working to understand how the interfacial chemistry of FGSs influences their complex assembly. His research involves material synthesis, electrode processing and electrochemical characterization.

  • Buchanan, Maya (‘15 - ‘17)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Maya Buchanan is a PhD student in climate impacts and adaptation policy at Princeton, examining coastal adaptation for urban areas in the face of sea level rise and non-stationary flood impacts. Her objective is to improve decision-makers’ ability to plan for the future by understanding expected damages resulting from different adaptation responses to coastal threats, despite imprecise and variable parameterization of coupled natural and human systems. Her research focuses on modeling these systems to better understand limits to adaptation and optimal adaptation pathways. Maya studied economics and environmental science and policy as an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis, and environmental engineering (water resources and systems optimization) as a master’s student at Johns Hopkins. Before starting her PhD, Maya was a liaison for the White House Subcommittee of Global Change Research and collaborator on a federal-private-academic partnership to model the risks of weather and climate extremes with the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Previously, she worked as an Earth science, energy, and water policy analyst respectively for NASA, the Department of Energy, the Architect of the Capital, and UNESCO’s Science Branch.

  • Burke, Michael (‘08 - ‘10)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Michael’s main research project was the experimental characterization and development of chemical models for the combustion of synthetic gas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) at typical gas turbine engine conditions. Burning synthetic gas is the final stage of coal-based Integrated Gasification Combined-Cycle (IGCC) systems, offering an opportunity for utilizing an abundant and relatively cheap power generation resource while still controlling air pollutant emissions, achieving high energy conversion efficiencies, and possibly sequestering carbon. He collected data at these conditions and extending the current chemical models to provide the knowledge base necessary for the successful design of reliable and efficient gas turbine engines.

    He had been involved in a project focused on the spontaneous ignition of hydrogen and natural gas during high pressure tank ruptures. His group had shown experimentally that hydrogen or natural gas tank leaks can ignite without an external ignition source. They worked to identify causes of spontaneous ignition to prevent this hazard.

  • Cannarella, John (‘13 - ‘15)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    John Cannarella is a PhD candidate working under Craig Arnold in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Princeton University. His research interests focus on the broad topic of clean energy production and storage. Specifically, John’s current research activities aim to understand how the mechanical stress that arises during normal lithium-ion battery operation affects the battery’s cycle life. The ultimate goal is to develop lithium-ion energy storage systems with longer cycle/calendar lives, which is critical to making large scale batteries economically viable.

  • Charpentier, Victor (‘15 - ‘17)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Victor is a graduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering advised by Professor S. Adriaenssens. His research interests lie in reducing energy consumption of buildings and elastic deformation of shell structures. The Department of Energy estimates that around 30% of the total american energy consumption takes place in buildings. Victor is working on active façades (shading systems) for energy efficiency and specifically on the use of large elastic deformations of thin shell structures.

  • Chou, Cleo (‘14 - ‘16)

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    Cleo’s research is on the relationship between nutrient and carbon cycling in lowland tropical rainforests, with a focus on trees. She incorporates the effects of ecological competition and species traits to understand nutrient limitation of the growth of tropical forests, an important carbon sink. To do this, she uses a combination of theoretical modeling and field measurements and experiments in the forest of Costa Rica. Broadly, her interests include forest dynamics, nutrient and carbon cycles, tropical forest ecology and conservation, and the role of biodiversity and species traits in these topics, as well as the intersection between science and environmental policy.

  • Court, Benjamin (‘10 - ‘11)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Ben is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is working with Professor Michael Celia on CO2 Capture and Sequestration (CCS) in deep saline formations.

    Ben’s early work focused on CO2 sequestration safety, quantifying CO2 and brine leakage risk through abandoned wells. He modeled different potential leakage scenarios following a large-scale CO2 injection in the Wabamun lake area of the Alberta Basin (Canada).

    His current work considers both the limitations of simplified CO2 injection models and approaches to address CCS implementation barriers. First Ben investigates how the variability in certain formation characteristics impacts CO2 plume modeling. The results of this study will allow a better determination of where and when simplified models could be applicable or improved. Ben has also been working on the challenges to large-scale CCS implementation with a focus on technical, regulatory, and public acceptance barriers. Examining these collectively has allowed him and his collaborators from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to identify several promising integrated solutions. Specifically Ben is investigating potential synergies to tackle both the additional water demands of CO2 capture, as well as CO2 sequestration pressure management challenges.

    Prior to coming to Princeton, Ben received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bristol (UK) after being raised in France.

  • Dalin, Carole (‘12 - ‘14)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Carole is interested in water, food security, and climate issues. Her work focuses on the use of water resources for food, by quantifying and analyzing the global virtual water trade network and its evolution. Taking into account the time and space variability of agricultural water use efficiency, she is able to identify key importers and exporters of water and to assess whether international food trade leads to an increasingly efficient use of global water resources.

  • Davies, Greg (‘15 - ‘17)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Greg is a graduate student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. His research explores low cost batteries for grid-scale energy storage. Cost is a significant factor limiting deployment of current battery technologies at scale. This limitation can be reduced by considering battery architectures that use low cost battery materials and reduce the requirement for large amounts of packaging, which add wasted weight, volume and cost. Specifically, his research focusses on several novel flow-battery designs which work towards these goals. He is also interested in the expansion of low-carbon power generation in the electric grid, and policies which can be applied to significantly increase the penetration of renewable energy sources.

  • Deng, Hang (‘11 - ‘13)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Hang’s current research focuses on reactive transport in fractured porous media, to investigate the roles of mineralogical heterogeneity and brine compositions in changing the hydrodynamics of the fractured porous media. It will provide important insights on evaluations of caprock integrity, thereby the performance of geological storage sites of CO2.

  • Deng, Sili (Selina) (‘13 - ‘15)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Sili’s research focuses on the combustion characteristics and chemistry of petroleum  and alternative fuels including biofuels, which constitute many of the critical issues related to energy and the climate. Experimental investigation is combined with numerical simulation to obtain fuel characteristics considering the complicated coupling process of chemistry and transport. It provides insights for surrogate fuel design, combustion process optimization and pollutant control.

  • Diao, Minghui (‘11 - ‘13)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Minghui’s research focuses on the use of VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) hygrometer located on the NSF Gulfstream-V research aircraft to measure water vapor around the globe, analyze how cirrus cloud forms and help improve the cloud parameterizations in climate models. The Hiaper Pole-to-Pole Campaign (HIPPO) Global campaign ended in September of 2011.  It was the first flight campaign ever to cover from North Pole to South Pole and from surface to the upper troposphere in all four seasons, measuring all types of greenhouse gases, including H2O, CO2, CH4. This was the first time that a zoom into the atmosphere layers was done to get a snapshot of how greenhouse gases are distributed in the atmosphere.

  • Edwards, Ryan (‘15 - ‘17)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Ryan’s research is investigating the potential environmental impacts and opportunities associated with unconventional oil and gas production. His work involves the development of numerical models of fluid flow in unconventional reservoirs. Ryan’s projects include an investigation into the fate of the aqueous hydraulic fracturing fluid that is injected into unconventional formations during fracturing operations, and an investigation into the potential for CO2 sequestration in depleted shale gas formations. He is also interested in the practical and policy implications of his technical work and is assessing the feasibility and cost of CO2 sequestration in shales, informed by the results of his modeling study.

  • Ellis, Brian (‘09 - ‘11)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Brian’s research is focused on geologic carbon sequestration in deep saline formations as a means to mitigate carbon emissions to the atmosphere. He is interested in understanding the complex geochemical reactions that will occur after carbon dioxide injection. In particular, he is interested in how these reactions will impact the sealing ability of caprocks and the long-term flow characteristics of the injection formation. His research combines geochemical modeling and experimental work to investigate these CO2-water-rock interactions.

  • Farrior, Caroline (‘09 - ‘11)

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    Modeling the pattern of plant distributions has proven to be a critical component in climate models.  Plants species are constrained by physical limits such as cold and drought tolerance as well as competition from other species.  Treating both types of mechanisms appropriately has been difficult to do while maintaining tractability for efficient use in climate models.  Caroline is working on extending a new model of plant competition developed in the Pacala lab.  This model has produced an accurate and tractable model of plant competition.

    Caroline is currently extending and analyzing this model to understand the distribution of dominant plant strategies under the global range of climatic conditions (i.e. the biome distributions).

  • Fawcett, Sarah (‘08 - ‘10)


    Sarah’s research focused on the marine nitrogen cycle, and the links between photosynthesis supported by different nitrogen sources and the drawdown of CO2 by the ocean. Nitrogen is a major constituent of all living organisms and a primary determinant of the ecological success of phytoplankton, the base of marine food chains. Biologically available nitrogen has the potential to limit productivity in the surface ocean and determine the composition of phytoplankton communities, thus affecting the transfer of carbon to higher trophic levels, and eventually into the ocean interior. There exists an oceanographic paradigm stating that primary production supported by nitrogen from outside the well-lit surface ocean is equivalent to the amount of carbon that is exported from this surface layer and sequestered at depth.

    Thus discerning the source of N to phytoplankton in various parts of the ocean is potentially very important. Isotope measurements of dissolved and particulate nitrogen pools can tell us about the source of N for photosynthesis, and thus the amount of carbon a particular ecosystem can potentially sequester. She is currently working on measuring species-specific, high-resolution stable isotope signatures of the Sargasso Sea ecosystem using flow cytometry and mass spectrometry. She was also interested in resolving seasonal and temporal changes in phytoplankton N sources, as well as the response of the ecosystem to various perturbations likely to occur as the ocean warms.

  • Ferguson-Cradle, Gregory (‘14 - ‘16)


    Gregory is a PhD candidate in the History Department at Princeton University. He works on history of science and economic history of the twentieth century. He is particularly interested in how natural resources have been and are administered in different geopolitical, economic, cultural and scientific contexts across the world. His dissertation focuses on responses to fisheries collapses from the 1950s to the present and seeks to better understand how and why varying systems of management have been instituted to replace management regimes that had failed.

  • Frazer, Michelle (‘17 - ‘19)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    Michelle Frazer is a Ph.D. student in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, where she is advised by Dr. Yi Ming. Her work is focused on the role of clouds in the climate system, a chief source of uncertainty in climate modeling. She uses idealized and complex atmospheric general circulation models to isolate physical mechanisms connecting moisture distributions and clouds and improve understanding of cloud effects.

    Michelle is also pursuing a certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) as a STEP-PEI fellow. Her STEP project is considering the policy implications of regional climate responses to stratospheric aerosol albedo modification, a form of solar geoengineering.

  • Golston, Levi (‘15 - ‘17)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Levi studies in the field of atmospheric chemistry where he is advised by Dr. Mark Zondlo. His research interests focus on the topic of quantifying emissions from local sources using mobile laboratory and UAV-based techniques. This work is facilitated by the development and testing of new, mid-infrared based, compact laser spectrometers that can meet the low power and weight requirements of these platforms. This capability is especially applied to understanding the magnitude and sources of methane leakage from unconventional natural gas production systems, which have proliferated recently in the U.S. and globally. This research has implications for climate risks from shale gas production and is key to understanding the footprint of natural gas relative to other energy sources.

  • Guo, Bo (‘14 - ‘16)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Bo Guo is a PhD candidate in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research focuses on fundamental understanding and computational modeling of flow in porous media. Currently, Bo has been developing a family of multi-scale models for fluid injection into large-scale geological systems. These multi-scale models will provide computationally efficient modeling tools to study the fluid migration and pressure response in geological formations due to fluid injection, which are essential for risk assessments of the environmental systems, for example, geological CO2 sequestration and seawater intrusion, and engineering optimization of energy systems, such as geo-energy storage.

  • Hammer, Sarah (‘17 - ‘19)

    Chemical and Biological Engineering

    Sarah Hammer is National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Advised by Professor José Avalos, her research seeks to address the need for sustainable liquid transportation fuels. While ethanol is the most widely used liquid biofuel, its incompatibility with existing infrastructure limits its ability to replace more than 10% of gasoline consumption in the United States. Branched-chain higher alcohols are promising alternatives, which can be used as complete fuel substitutes in gasoline engines or converted to jet fuel. Combining traditional metabolic engineering approaches with structural and synthetic biology, Sarah’s research focuses on engineering yeast for the production of branched-chain higher alcohols from biomass-based sugars. In addition, she is interested in the practical and political challenges that must be overcome in order for alternative liquid fuels to penetrate the market.

  • Hannam, Phillip (‘13 - ‘15)

    Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy

    Phil Hannam is a PhD candidate in the Science, Technology & Environmental Policy program at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs. In Spring 2015 Phil was a research scholar at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, India. A mechanical engineer who jumped into the world of game theory and international politics, Phil’s dissertation examines China’s growing involvement in the power sectors of developing countries (particularly coal finance in Asia), and implications for climate change policy and global energy governance. From 2009-2011, Phil studied energy policy as a Chinese Government Scholar in Shanghai. Phil has worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Beijing office, the U.N. Environment Program’s South-South Cooperation Unit in Nairobi, the Joint Global Change Research Institute in Maryland, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, DC. He has his Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Masters degree from Tongji University, China.

  • He, Xiaogang (‘17 - ‘19)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Xiaogang He is a Ph.D. candidate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research interest focuses on the fundamental understanding of how climate change and climate variability affect the global flood and drought risk (FDR) and how we can improve the predictability of these extreme events to reduce their potential impact. Xiaogang has been developing a multi-scale physically motivated, information-theoretic framework to better quantify and diagnose changes in FDR in relation to climate variability and change, and anthropogenic influences such as water management (e.g., reservoir operations, irrigation, water withdraws). This framework can help to decouple the complex interaction mechanisms and identify key processes that drive the long-term changes in FDR across different spatial and temporal scales. In order to transfer science into action, Xiaogang is working on the development of an online operational Global Flood and Drought Monitor system with an objective of improving FDR management over the globe. This high-resolution (~25 km) system can provide information on historical, present and predicted/projected hydrological conditions at different time scales, which are important to many sectors, including water, agriculture and food security, energy production, infrastructure and ecosystem health. It also has ramifications for disaster preparedness and mitigation, policy making and political response to climate change.

  • Herrera-Estrada, Julio (‘15 - ‘17)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Julio’s research revolves around the study of droughts with the goal of improving their seasonal forecasting, their future projections under climate change, and the estimates of their impacts on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus. He studies how droughts evolve in time and space throughout the North American continent, and the role that feedback mechanisms between the land surface and the atmosphere play in controlling droughts’ dynamics. Other projects that Julio is working on seek to quantify the effect that droughts and heat waves have had on the prices of retail electricity in the American West, and on quantifying and reducing the uncertainties in the future projections of droughts in the 21st century that arises from the diversity of global climate models considered.

  • Hidalgo, Javier (‘09 - ‘10)


    Javier’s research interests included global justice, particularly the ethics of immigration, and intergenerational justice. Regarding intergenerational justice, Javier was interested in a cluster of different issues: the ethics of discounting, the non-identity problem, and the distribution of responsibility for mitigating climate change.

  • Hill, Spencer (‘12 - ‘13)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    I am a Ph.D. student in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at Princeton University, where I research tropical atmospheric circulations in present day and how they respond to imposed perturbations. Please see my Research page for more information. I am in my 5th year of study, am advised by Dr. Yi Ming, and will defend my thesis on August 2nd, 2016.

    In September 2016, I will start a postdoctoral position working with Simona Bordoni of CalTech and Jonathan Mitchell of UCLA and Westmont College working on monsoon theories.

    I am also interested in the Open Science and Free / Open Source Software movements, scientific programming using the Python language and Emacs Org-Mode, and the links between science and aesthetics/culture. Please see my Resources and Programming pages for more information.

  • Hodson, Thomas (‘17 - ‘19)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Thomas Hodson is a graduate student in the Mechanical & Aerospace Department advised by Prof. Dan Steingart. Before coming to Princeton, Thomas was a Patent Examiner at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, specializing in Battery & Fuel Cell technologies. His research involves characterization of structural and electrochemical evolution in electrochemical cells using ultrasonic acoustic methods. Presently, his research focuses on understanding the changes that occur in lithium-ion batteries during an initial break-in period of operation. Thomas received his B.Eng. degree in Chemical Engineering from the City College of New York.

  • Hohman, Tristen (‘12 - ‘14)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Tristen’s research interests lie in understanding the interaction between large scale wind turbines and the complex atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) that covers the Earth’s surface. His primary interest is in vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) because of several advantages they have over their ubiquitous horizontal axis brethren. This research is achieved by implementing flow conditioning techniques in a standard wind tunnel that produce an artificially thick boundary layer so that interactions can be studied at a manageable scale. He hopes that this research will lead to improved wind turbine design and increased efficiencies that will help wind energy achieve a greater share of the global energy budget.

  • Hu, Yuan (‘13 - ‘15)


    The theme of Yuan’s research at Princeton is called carbon mitigation – chemically converting CO2 into useful products, such as fuels or small organics. Specifically, Yuan conducts photoelectrochemical reduction of CO2 using photocathodes made of various semiconducting materials to harvest solar energy to drive the electrochemical reaction, and trying different molecular catalysts as well.

  • Huang, Xinwo (‘13 - ‘15)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Xinwo has a general interest in energy and environmental studies. His research interest lies in multi-phase flow in porous media and large-scale numerical modeling, with applications to geological carbon sequestration and shale gas production. Within the PEI-STEP program, he will explore the possibilities for CCS and shale gas to coexist from both technical and policy perspectives.

  • Jhaveri, Janam (‘14 - ‘16)

    Electrical Engineering

    Janam is a graduate student in Electrical Engineering advised by Professor James C. Sturm. His research interests lie in developing novel technologies to reduce the cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) and achieve grid parity. For silicon solar cells, which form ~90% of the PV market, a significant and slowly declining component of the cost is due to the high-temperature (> 800°C) processing required to form p-n junctions. Janam is working towards fabricating low-cost silicon/organic and silicon/metal-oxide heterojunctions at low temperatures to replace the p-n junction while maintaining high power conversion efficiencies.

  • Kang, Mary (‘11 - ‘13)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Mary’s research focuses on developing a combined numerical-analytical multi-scale multi-phase model to represent leakage of carbon dioxide through faults and other planar features. This model provides the capability to efficiently explore the potential for geologic storage of carbon dioxide in basins containing faults such as the Illinois Basin.

  • Kanter, David (‘11 - ‘13)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    David’s research focuses on how and to what effect the Montreal Protocol could control nitrous oxide (N2O), one of the most abundant ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By investigating both the effect of nitrogen fertilizer application on global N2O emissions, as well as possible policy approaches for the Montreal Protocol, he is hoping to track this issue from its source to its solution. With faith in the effectiveness of a single international climate agreement quickly waning, David is convinced the Montreal Protocol has an important role to play in mitigating the effects of global climate change.

  • Keller, Kyle (‘13 - ‘15)

    Social Psychology

    My field of study is Social Psychology, which investigates how our behaviors and cognitions are shaped by situational factors and our social environment. I personally study attitudes and attitude change – especially as they relate to cognitive dissonance. Recently my work examines the consequences of choice and the role of physiological arousal in post-decisional attitude change.

  • Konar, megan (‘11 - ‘12)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    The last few years have been a perfect storm of adverse weather conditions and increased global demand for food, leading to sky-rocketing prices of agricultural commodities and food insecurity in many regions of the world. On top of this, climate change is anticipated to dramatically alter rainfall and crop yield patterns, while rising populations and incomes will continue to enhance demand, making it imperative to formulate effective policy for water and food security. For Megan’s Ph.D. dissertation, she is researching how water and food systems are linked through trade, which can be represented by the global virtual water (i.e. the amount of water used throughout the entire production process of agricultural commodities) trade network. In particular, she is interested in the potential for international trade to buffer climate shocks.

  • Krieger, Elena (‘08 - ‘10)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Elena studied materials for energy conversion and storage with a focus on ultracapacitors.  Ultracapacitors store energy electrochemically like batteries, but unlike batteries they store energy primarily in the electrical double layer formed between the electrolyte and electrodes of the cell. This feature allows for rapid charge and discharge and high cyclability, resulting in long ultracapacitor lifespans in high power applications such as regenerative breaking in electric vehicles.  Elena’s research looked specifically at increasing energy density in the cells by optimizing the feature size on high surface area carbon electrodes in conjunction with novel ionic liquid electrolytes.

  • Lai, Ching-Yao (‘16 - ‘18)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Yao is a PhD student in the complex fluids lab at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the experimental modeling of the hydraulic fracturing process, in which high pressure liquid is injected and fractures shale formations to release oil and natural gas. She investigates the effects of fluid viscosity and rock elasticity on the growth rate of the hydraulic fractures. She also studies the timescale at which the fracturing fluid flows back to the surface from the underground fractures once the injection pressure is removed and the amount of liquid that is permanently trapped underground due to the rock heterogeneity.

    Recently Yao has been working on a new technique in which foam is injected as a fracturing fluid to reduce the water use and the damage to water-sensitive reservoirs in hydraulic fracturing.

  • Lefevre, Nicholas (‘08 - ‘10)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Nicolas’ research interest was the politics of technological change in the scope of climate change mitigation. In particular, he was interested in political resistance resulting from foreseen economic hardships at the industry level. His research focuses on how such resistance can be assessed, predicted and integrated into more conventional economic models of climate change mitigation.

  • Li, Xiaoyuan "Charles" (‘16 - ‘18)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Charles is a 5th year PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, where he is advised by Prof. Denise Mauzerall. His research focused on the better representation of the aerosol-radiation interaction through implementation of the internal mixing between black carbon and other aerosol species in order to accurately quantify the radiative forcing of aerosols. He is now conducting interdisciplinary research that detail how air pollution affect solar energy resource, solar photovoltaics electricity generation, grid integration of renewable energy and investment return. The objective of his research is to reveal the close interaction between air pollution, climate and renewable energy resource, and that air pollution mitigation would create co-benefits for renewable resource and climate change mitigation.

  • Li, Qi (‘14 - ‘16)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Qi is interested in issues related to urban micro-meteorology and designing more sustainable cities. Her work uses high-resolution numerical models to study the turbulent transport of momentum, heat and mass in the atmospheric boundary layer, especially boundary layer characterized by topographically complex roughness elements, such as the atmospheric boundary layer in urban environment. Understanding the basic mechanisms of turbulent transport in these complex surfaces will be a crucial step to better micro-meteorological models and urban design from a quantitative perspective.

  • Li, Dan (‘12 - ‘14)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Dan’s current research focuses on the impact of urbanization on local and regional climate, as well as the water cycle. The goal of his research work, including his STEP (Science, Technology and Environmental Policy) project, is to study the potential of urban planning policies to reduce anthropogenic stresses on the urban environment, such as urban heat island effect and modification of water flux, based on a better understanding of the interactions between urban development pattern, the climate system, and the urban water cycle.

  • Liang, Wenkai (‘15 - ‘17)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    My research focuses on the combustion characteristics of fossil fuels and alternative fuels at engine operating conditions, which is related to various environmental and energy issues. Specifically, I conducted numerical simulations of flame initiation and propagation processes to understand the complicated chemistry-transport coupling in flame dynamics and further quantify the global combustion properties such as flame burning velocities and minimum ignition energies (MIEs). On a fundamental level, these global properties are critical targets for oxidation mechanism development and validation of both traditional fuels and alternative fuels. On a practical level, they affect the fuel burning rate and stability of Internal Combustion (IC) engines and hence determine the engine’s performance as well as pollutant emissions. Moreover, in spark-ignition engines, minimum ignition energy is a key parameter in the engine modeling and is essential for the design of high-efficiency and low-emission engines.

  • Liao, Wenying (‘17 - ‘19)

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    Wenying’s research focuses on understanding and managing the global nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen is a key element controlling ecosystem functioning. Human activities have significantly altered global nitrogen cycle with nitrogen fertilization, driven by increased food energy demand. The current nitrogen loading has reached an alarmingly high amount, with potentially detrimental effect on global climate and public health. Wenying’s research aims to explore possible solutions via a socio-ecological perspective. Specifically, she is interested in developing theoretical models to investigate the effective policy framework for global collaboration on reducing and redistributing nitrogen fertilizer input.

  • Lin, Ning (‘08 - ‘10)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Ning’s research topic was Hurricane Multihazards Risk Analysis. Hurricanes often induce large amount of damage to coastal areas, due to combined effects of strong winds, heavy rainfall, and storm-surge. Moreover, the risk of these hazards may be greatly increased in the future, due to climate change and sea level rise. Her group applied a mesoscale meteorology model, a structural vulnerability model, and a hydrodynamic model to investigate these hazards. Their ultimate goal was to develop a stochastic framework to access the joint risk of these hurricane-associated hazards in the context of climate change.

  • Little, Christopher (‘08 - ‘09)


    The melting of ice shelves from beneath (basal melting) constitutes a loss of ice from the cryosphere and a source of freshwater to the ocean; it also influences ice sheet dynamics. My overarching research goal is to illuminate key oceanographic constraints on the location and rate of basal melting. To date, I have used idealized numerical models to study the influence of ice shelf shape and bathymetry. These idealized simulations have also been used to examine sensitivity to changes in model formulation and parameterizations, improving the prospects for realistic, coupled models of ocean-ice shelf interaction.

  • Lloyd, Ian (‘09 - ‘11)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    The focus of Ian’s research is on the interaction between hurricanes and the climate system under global warming, for three major areas.

    • The first area is ocean-atmosphere interaction associated with hurricanes; in particular, the influence of oceanic heat content on hurricane intensity, which could have important consequences for changes in hurricane activity under global warming scenarios.
    • The second is the influence of hurricane-induced feedbacks on the climate system, via both ocean and atmosphere.
    • The final area is large-scale controls on tropical cyclone activity by the climate system under global warming, using newly developed high-resolution models at GFDL.
  • Lutzy, Rebecca (‘10 - ‘11)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Rebecca Lutzy is a Ph.D. student in The Woodrow Wilson School’s Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) program. Her doctoral research focuses on the impact of Congressional politics, including political polarization, on United States federal climate and clean energy policies. Her research approach draws from political science methods for analyzing legislator preferences and from climate and energy analysis methods for incorporating energy use, production, and greenhouse gas emissions data and goals.

    Among other topics, she seeks to distinguish geographic and natural resource determinants of legislator preferences from other stakeholder and interest group impacts on policymaking.

    Rebecca spent May through September of 2010 as an energy and environment Policy Fellow for Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, focused on legislation considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. She was born and raised in New Jersey.

  • Majkut, Joseph (‘11 - ‘13)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    Joe’s recent research has focused on estimating the historical air-sea flux of carbon dioxide, particularly anthropogenic carbon. In the last 30 years a lot has been learned about what the average flux into the ocean has been, but assessing trends and variability in the signal is much harder. Currently, making a good estimate of where the flux may be changing is not possible. Joe is using a combination of ocean circulation models and statistical methods to extract as much information as possible out of the available measurements and create precise estimates of the flux and the associated uncertainties.

  • Match, Aaron (‘17 - ‘19)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    Aaron Match is a Ph.D. student in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Aaron studies the global circulation of Earth’s atmosphere, with a focus on how interactions among radiation, dynamics, and chemistry lead to variability in the stratosphere. The stratosphere is a stably stratified layer of the atmosphere extending from approximately 15-50 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, containing Earth’s ozone layer. The stratosphere has undergone significant changes over the past few decades, including decreases in ozone concentrations, temperature, and water vapor. These changes can be thought of as the response to forcings by major volcanic eruptions, ozone depletion, greenhouse gas changes, and natural variability, yet there remains uncertainty in the forcings as well as the observed changes themselves. Aaron seeks to apply understanding of the stratospheric response to different forcings from theory and idealized climate model simulations to observational records from satellites and reanalysis datasets in order to advance theoretical understanding of the stratospheric response to forcings, gain insights into the stratospheric dynamics of idealize climate models, and constrain observed stratospheric variability. Advances in the understanding of how particular forcings impact the stratosphere may benefit climate model simulations of past and future variability as well as projections of the impacts of proposed stratospheric aerosol geoengineering. Outside of stratospheric dynamics, Aaron likes poring over science communication blogs and taking weekend bike trips to the Pine Barrens.

  • Matteo, Ed (‘08 - ‘10)

    Chemical Engineering

    Ed’s thesis work aimed to gain understanding of the mechanism of the cement corrosion, such that predictions may be made regarding the possibilities for long-term storage in depleted petroleum reserves. There was concern with regard to the rate of degradation of the cement, the mechanical properties of corroded material, and the formation of leakage pathways in the degraded material. Ed was specifically working to characterize silica gel that is the end product of the cement corrosion and by doing so, gained insight into both its mechanical properties and its transport properties. Another interest was to determine the permeability of clay shales, which, as a cap-rock material, often played an important role in the sealing ability of these types of formations.

  • McNeely, Kelsey (‘08 - ‘10)


    Kelsey’s research focused on increasing hydrogen production by cyanobacteria via genetic engineering. Cyanobacteria are photoautotrophs that use sunlight and water to fix carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This method of biomass accumulation alone makes cyanobacteria exciting candidates for climate change research, but moreover they can utilize their carbon stores for hydrogen production under certain conditions. By eliminating competing pathways, either via metabolic control or genetic control, the hydrogen produced can be dramatically increased. It is our goal to construct a modified strain of cyanobacteria that could produce hydrogen at economically viable levels.

  • Michiels, Tim (‘16 - ‘18)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Tim Michiels is a PhD candidate in the Form Finding Lab where he researches the behavior of shell structures subjected to natural disasters such as earthquakes. He develops methods to design resilient shell structures using local soil. Earth construction has historically been one of the most widely employed construction materials in the world, but has largely fallen out of use in North-America and Europe over the past century. It does, however, have tremendous potential as a building material today, when energy conservation in construction is becoming increasingly critical. Earth is an abundant natural resource that can typically be amassed on site or from a nearby location, often free of cost or for a limited transportation fee. Thus, earthen buildings have practically no ecological footprint, in contrast to those built with more typically employed materials. The goal of Tim’s PhD is to prove that earth is incredibly durable and earthen buildings can be designed to withstand earthquakes. Tim is furthermore convinced that by studying and preserving constructions from the past, we can improve the built environment of the future. Thus besides his focus on shells made from sustainable materials, he also focuses on the analysis of historic structures.

  • Misra, Mayank (‘17 - ‘19)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Mayank’s research interests lie at the intersection of human collective behavior, ecosystems, and climate change. He is particularly interested in socio-ecological coevolution dynamics and how human populations manage risk across different organizational and temporal scales.

    At the Levin Lab Mayank focuses on how socio-ecological relationships are transformed when tribal populations are integrated with State structures and formal markets. He studies the effects of integration on integrated groups, their native ecosystems, and the resilience of States and markets themselves. On a larger scale he also studies the effect of losing diverse socio-ecological relationships on human adaptability and resilience to global catastrophic risk.

    Mayank was formerly a civil rights lawyer in the High Courts of Delhi and Bombay, and at the Supreme Court of India. He completed a masters in Public Administration from the Woodrow Wilson School in 2014 and consulted for the Open Society foundations and UN peace keeping, before returning to Princeton as a PhD student.

  • Monteiro Jayasankar, Kalyani (‘16 - ‘18)


    Kalyani Monteiro Jayasankar is a third year PhD student in the Sociology department. Kalyani’s research interests lie in environmental risk, urban climate change and their intersections with inequality. Her research examines the experience of coastal flooding by vulnerable communities in Mumbai, drawing on ethnographic work as well as archival research and spatial analysis.

    As an undergraduate, Kalyani studied sociology and geology at Mount Holyoke College. She subsequently worked on a research project at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, that involved a comparative study of structural violence in three cities in the global south: Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, and Durban.

  • Mordechai, Lee (‘15 - ‘17)


    Lee Mordechai is a Ph.D. student in the History Department at Princeton University. Among other topics, he is interested in historical earthquakes and tsunamis in ancient Rome and Byzantium, where he uses documentary, archaeological and natural evidence critically in order to learn as much as possible about these earthquakes, and in order to establish long term seismic models. He is also closely involved in the three year PIIRS Climate Change and History Initiative as both research assistant and administrator. This project aims to use a comparative approach to climate, environment and society in Eurasia between 300-1900, as an important step towards understanding the impact of climate on complex societies over time.

  • Ocko, Illissa (‘10 - ‘11)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    The Arctic is a remote, desolate region, seemingly far away from human influence. However, during the 1970s, large amounts of anthropogenically-emitted particles were detected in the Arctic atmosphere, inferring that long-range transport of pollution could harm even the most pristine parts of the globe.

    These pollutants can drastically affect the Arctic climate, either directly by scattering or absorbing sunlight, or indirectly by changing microphysical cloud properties, snow albedo, etc. My research addresses this process, by using climate models to trace aerosols as they are emitted from mid-latitudes, transported to the Arctic, and interact with radiation and clouds.

  • Oyeyemi, Victor (‘11 - ‘13)

    Chemical and Biological Engineering

    Victor investigates the combustion chemistry of biodiesel using tools of quantum chemistry. Specifically, he uses quantum chemistry models as an accurate method to calculate thermochemical properties, such as bond dissociation energies, that are relevant to biodiesel combustion. In addition to his research work, Victor is involved with organizing the Princeton Research Symposium.

  • Padilla, Lauren (‘08 - ‘10)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Lauren’s research focused on reducing the uncertainty in climate feedbacks and sensitivity by applying methods from optimization and control theory to simple climate models. Interactions among feedback processes, which enhance or dampen the climate’s basic radiative response to natural and anthropogenic forcing, are not easily investigated in complex coupled climate models. Instead, we developed simple physically-based energy balance models resolving individual feedbacks to study the propagation of uncertainty from feedback to climate response.

    Additionally, the simple models’ parameters were formally optimized to reproduce the climate of the past century, which placed constraints on projections of future climate change. Our eventual goal was to provide narrower estimates of the equilibrium climate sensitivity and transient climate response. Before coming to Princeton, Lauren worked on engine control systems for Ford Motor Company and the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Paris, Aubrey (‘16 - ‘18)


    Aubrey Paris is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Chemistry Department advised by Dr. Andrew Bocarsly. Her research involves optimizing catalyst systems that electrochemically transform carbon dioxide into reduced, energy-dense products for the dual purposes of achieving atmospheric remediation and developing new fuel sources. Aubrey is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute on Science for Global Policy (ISGP), an international science policy think-tank, which has led her to work on issues ranging from sea level rise and severe storms to infectious disease, food safety, and synthetic biology. As an active science communicator, she is a co-host of “The Forum,” the ISGP’s bi-weekly audio podcast which has accumulated listeners in over 50 countries across six continents. Aubrey received B.S. degrees in Chemistry and Biology from Ursinus College in 2015.

  • Peng, Wei (‘14 - ‘16)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Wei is broadly interested in the interactions of policies for renewable energy, air pollution and climate in country-specific political environment. Her dissertation focuses on designing China’s wind energy strategy to maximize environmental benefits, and the domestic policy conditions to enable such strategy. She conducts integrated assessments to quantify air quality and climate benefits for various near-term and mid-term wind development pathways in China, based on which she further analyzes the capacity of existing policy to enable such wind energy strategy in China’s current electricity market featured by the dominance of state-owned enterprises and complex central-local relations. She is especially interested in how to facilitate inter-provincial renewable electricity transport to help renewable integration and maximize displaced emissions.

  • Perry, Bruce (‘16 - ‘18)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Bruce is a second year PhD student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Prior to coming to Princeton, he received BS and MS degrees in chemical engineering from Northwestern University in 2013. Working in Prof. Michael Mueller’s Computational Turbulent Reacting Flow Laboratory, his main research interest is developing turbulent combustion models that can be used both to reduce simulation cost and to elucidate important aspects of the combustion physics. He is presently focusing on modeling the effects of fuel/air mixture inhomogeneity on combustion and validating these models in large eddy simulation of appropriate test cases. Improving modeling capability in this area is essential for improving efficiency and reducing pollutant formation in gas turbines and internal combustion engines, which frequently have high degrees of compositional inhomogeneity.

  • Persad, Geeta (‘11 - ‘13)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    Aerosols are one of the major stumbling blocks in predicting future climate change. Both their direct interaction with solar radiation and their indirect impact via modification of cloud properties give aerosols the potential to significantly alter the Earth’s energy balance and hydrological cycle.

    Geeta is interested in using computer modeling and observational resources to provide a comprehensive picture of the large-scale impacts of aerosols on climate, particularly their effect on precipitation. How have aerosols impacted the surface energy budget in the past, and how can we expect them to do so in the future as aerosol emissions change with the evolving energy culture? And what potential does this have to alter precipitation patterns, such as the South Asian monsoon, that affect millions of people?

  • Rabin, Sam (‘13 - ‘15)

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    My research is focused on understanding how climate, vegetation, and people interact to determine patterns of vegetation fire around the world. To that end, I’m building a global model that will estimate the amount of burning attributable to cropland, pasture, deforestation, and other land types. I’m especially interested in how increasing fire frequency in parts of the Amazon rainforest will combine with climate change to alter the structure and composition of the forest over the next century, and how carbon conservation initiatives such as REDD+ can account for those changes.

  • Ravikumar, Arvind (‘13 - ‘15)

    Electrical Engineering

    Arvind Ravikumar is a third year graduate student in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University. Working with Prof. Claire Gmachl, his research focuses on developing new and efficient Quantum Cascade laser based technology for health and environmental sensing applications as a part of the multi-university research center, MIRTHE. He is currently involved in developing short wavelength mid-infrared Quantum Cascade lasers and high performance broadband photodetectors using a new II-VI material system.

  • Roy-Mayhew, Joe (‘10 - ‘12)

    Chemical and Biological Engineering

    Joe’s research combines material synthesis and processing with electrochemical characterization to study the use of functionalized graphene sheets (FGSs) in dye sensitized solar cells. By incorporating FGSs, atomically thin, wrinkled sheets of carbon with exceptional electrical and mechanical properties, he strives to increase the efficiency and reduce the costs of solar cells.

    He is looking to make porous, highly conductive electrodes with large surface areas by understanding how the sheets pack together and form networks. He is interested in using these electrodes as a catalytic counter electrode (to replace platinum), and as a 3-D conductive scaffold at the working electrode (to reduce resistances in the solar cell).

  • Saikawa, Eri (‘08 - ‘10)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Eri conducted interdisciplinary research that covered a broad range of topics from international relations and the politics of East Asia to atmospheric chemistry, combining them into an overall interest in the diffusion mechanism in environmental policymaking. Motivated by the impact of rapid motorization in developing countries linked to climate change, she focused on air pollution from the transport sector and various efforts to regulate it. This leads to analysis of how countries adopt standards and what the impacts are due to such adoption.

  • Schlunegger, Sarah (‘17 - ‘19)

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

    Sarah Schlunegger is a PhD Student in the Program of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, advised by Prof. Jorge Sarmiento. Her work uses Earth System Models to predict the timing, sequence and inter-dependence of emerging anthropogenic signals in the ocean, with a focus on the ocean’s acquisition of anthropogenic carbon and heat. The ocean provides a climate service by absorbing the atmosphere’s excess carbon and heat but at a cost, namely acidification and warming which deteriorates marine habitats. Sarah’s primary research goal is to identify when and where changes in these heat/carbon sinks and their resulting impacts will be detectable in the ocean.

  • Shahi, Kimia (‘16 - ‘18)

    Art and Archaeology

    Kimia Shahi is a PhD student in the Department of Art & Archaeology. She studies the history of American art with a particular interest in the intersections between 19th century landscape painting and changing cultural, political and scientific attitudes towards geography, nature and the environment. Her developing research has increasingly focused on the relationship between landscape and water, specifically in relation to how regions such as coasts, waterways and wetlands have historically challenged modes of representation and knowledge production including painting, cartography, textual description and scientific surveys. Kimia is also currently contributing research to the upcoming exhibition Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment, which will examine for the first time how American artists have both reflected and shaped environmental understanding while participating in the emergence of a modern ecological consciousness, opening in 2018 at the Princeton University Art Museum.

  • Smith, Brianne (‘13 - ‘15)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Brianne’s research interests involve hydrology and hydroclimatology of heavy rainfall and flooding in urban areas. Her research focuses on urban modification to the water cycle and creating better physical understanding of urban flooding. This work includes a focus on regional precipitation climatology and urban modification of flood-producing  rainfall as well as urban watershed modeling. An increased physical understanding of urban flooding will help to prepare cities to better prepare for heavy rainfall in a changing climate.

  • Smith, Clinton (‘11 - ‘13)

    Electrical Engineering

    As a member of Professor Wysocki’s research group, Clinton researches and develops novel methods and instruments for laser-based trace gas spectroscopy: focusing on developing a low-power, portable, CO2 sensor that can reliably, under varying environmental conditions, detect sub-ppm changes in CO2 concentration while deployed in the field.

    Clinton also collaborates with Professor Zondlo in Civil and Environmental Engineering to develop a novel real-time calibration technique for integration with our portable sensors, and to fly one of the CO2 sensors on a UAV as part of a demonstration project for autonomous environmental sensing.

  • Spechler, Josh (‘14 - ‘16)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Joshua Spechler is a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Princeton University. Before starting at Princeton Joshua was an optical engineer at the NASA/CalTech Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Josh has been a teaching assistant and mentor in the MAE and MSE departments at Princeton University, as well as guest lecturing for classes in the MAE, MSE, and WWS departments. His research aims to apply inexpensive materials and processing to solar conversion technologies.

  • Spokas, Kasparas (‘16 - ‘18)

    Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Kasparas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department studying processes occurring during the flow of reactive fluids through subsurface rock fractures. The migration of reactive fluids through rock fractures remains a large risk associated with many industries. Kasparas’ focus is on investigating processes, such as mineral dissolution, that impact the leakage of fluids through fractures in the context of carbon capture and sequestration, a climate mitigation technology that sequesters power plant emissions. In addition, he is interested in studying the challenges of developing low-carbon energy systems and grids from an economic and public policy perspective. Specifically, he is interested in investigating how different segments of low-carbon energy systems interact with one another, and how policy can maximize the overall efficiency of the system.

  • Stein, Celine (‘11 - ‘13)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Celine’s research is on SF6 detection by lasers with the method Radar REMPI. SF6 is both a greenhouse gas and analogous to UF6. UF6 detection would enable the recognition of clandestine nuclear enrichment facilities and thus allow the development of nuclear energy.

  • Treuer, Tim (‘16 - ‘18)

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    Tim’s research is focused on regenerating tropical dry forests in Central America. As the forces of globalization and urbanization have combined to trigger the abandonment of agricultural lands throughout much of the Mesoamerican Biodiversity Hotspot, forest restoration offers a potential opportunity to pursue combined biodiversity and climate mitigation goals. However, thus far it is poorly understood how different environmental and historical drivers may modulate success in achieving these goals. Tim’s work focuses on how three factors–legacy pasture vegetation, soil quality, and landscape composition–influence the recovery of forest structure and community composition in young dry forest in the world’s largest tropical forest restoration site, el Área de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica. In addition, Tim is investigating how nutrient rich agricultural waste products can be used to ameliorate the negative impacts of low soil quality on dry forest recovery.

  • Trierweiler, Annette (‘12 - ‘14)

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    Annette studies how nutrient limitation and rising CO2 affect nitrogen fixation and primary productivity in the tropics. Her work focuses on how geologically-derived nutrients such as phosphorus and molybdenum can limit nitrogen fixation in tropical forest ecosystems now and into the future. By understanding what controls nitrogen fixation, the primary source of new nitrogen in the tropics, we can also understand how the role of these forests as a major carbon sink may change. Annette is using a combination of experimental field studies, greenhouse studies and modeling to explore the interactions of nutrients, nitrogen-fixation and climate change.

  • Wang, Xingchen (Tony) (‘13 - ‘15)


    Xingchen’s research focuses on using nitrogen isotopes to study how the marine nitrogen reservoir has changed in the past ice ages and its relationship with atmospheric CO2; and the nitrogen cycle on modern coral reef ecosystems. Particularly, using state-of-the-art analytical technique, he “reads” the information written in the fossil skeletons of corals (both reef-building corals and deep-ocean corals), which tell us how the ocean nutrient status has changed over glacial-interglacial cycles. He also conducts field studies on modern Bermuda coral reefs, exploring how human activities have changed the symbiotic relationship between coral hosts and their symbionts.

  • Whitworth, Alex (‘11 - ‘11)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Alex’s research is on global environmental assessment institutions such as the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific assessments of ozone depletion, and the Inter-governmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). He is using a social science approach to understand the role of such institutions in international politics, and investigating the conditions which lead to their creation in some environmental issue-areas. He is also interested in the design and governance of environmental assessments, methods of measuring their “effectiveness”, and the interaction of science and politics more generally.

  • Wu, Sherry Jueyu (‘17 - ‘19)


    Sherry Jueyu Wu is a fourth year graduate student in Psychology and Social Policy at Princeton University, under supervision of Professors Betsy Levy Paluck and Eldar Shafir. Her research is concerned with understanding group dynamics and behavioral change, including worker productivity and work engagement, long term impacts of group interventions, and individual judgment and decision making. Sherry designed and assessed the effectiveness of a behavioral intervention for reducing factory workers’ littering behavior in a multinational firm in China. She is interested in applying insights from behavioral sciences to understand people’s attitudes and behavioral patterns toward environmental issues. Sherry received her B.A. in psychology and economics with the highest honor from University of Virginia in 2013.

  • Xu, Yuan (‘08 - ‘09)

    Woodrow Wilson School

    Yuan studied China’s goal process of SO2 emission control, including goal setting, goal implementation, policy enactment, policy enforcement and goal attainment. The objective was to provide insights on achieving a CO2 goal. His research interests focused on energy, public policy and the environment.

  • Yan, Yuzhen (‘15 - ‘17)


    Yuzhen is interested in the Earth’s climate history 1 million years ago. He uses ice core records from Antarctica to reconstruct polar temperature, greenhouse gas concentration, and atmospheric composition in collaboration with researchers across the country. His research will shed light on how greenhouse gas concentrations and the Earth’s climate state co-varied before human’s impact on carbon cycle . Here at Princeton, Yuzhen measures the elemental and isotopic composition of major gases (nitrogen, oxygen, and argon) to provide key constraint on the timescale of ice cores.

  • Yao, Yu (‘10 - ‘11)

    Electrical Engineering

    Yu’s research focuses on Quantum Cascade (QC) lasers, a type of semiconductor lasers based on intersubband transitions in coupled quantum well heterostructures. The laser emission wavelength can be flexibly tailored to cover the mid- to far-infrared wavelength region. She has enjoyed playing with hundreds of quantum wells to achieve novel QC laser designs with wide voltage tuning range, broad wavelength coverage as well as high power and efficiency.

    Her research group are closely collaborated with many experts in spectroscopy, environmental sensing, medical diagnosis, etc. Their goal is to develop QC lasers that serve a wider range of applications.

  • Zheng, Zhong (‘12 - ‘14)

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Zhong has broad interests in energy science, engineering and policy issues. Zhong’s research includes: dynamics of liquid propagation in and leakage from porous reservoirs motivated by Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) processes; CCS source-sink match, early demonstration, and international collaboration opportunities; coupled decision-making processes on energy technology development among countries and stakeholders considering a possible climate shock; energy system integration, and China energy strategy and policy.