Bethany Sneathen ’16


Molecular Biology

Project Title

What Trees Could Learn from Alan Greenspan

During my summer internship with the Caylor Lab in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of Princeton University, I studied water transport during drought in oak and pine trees in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. Global climate change increases the likelihood of droughts to occur and to be increasingly severe; knowing how various tree species respond to drought aids predictions of how an ecosystem will respond to drought. My lab group pursued this topic by inducing drought in some trees while irrigating others with “heavy” water. By doing this, we could analyze the change in certain parameters of plant hydraulics in the drought trees, such as leaf conductivity and turgor loss point, while the leaves and stems of the irrigated trees could be analyzed to determine the isotopic ratios of water as time passed. Through this internship, I learned how imperative teamwork and adaptability are to the operation of a lab. Although my experience with environmental research was enlightening in various ways, I intend to apply the new skills I acquired from this internship to other academic endeavors, as I pursue a concentration in Molecular Biology and a certificate in Global Health and Health Policy.

Internship Year


Project Category

Climate and Energy


Princeton University, Princeton, NJ


Adam Wolf, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology