Claire Zarakas ’16



Project Title

Scaling and Coupling of the Atmosphere with Land Ecosystems

This summer I investigated herbivory in nitrogen-fixing trees as compared to non-nitrogen-fixing trees in tropical second-growth forests. I spent the first half of the internship doing field work in Panama, where I helped design and implement an experiment that consisted of collecting leaf samples from nitrogen-fixing and non-nitrogen-fixing trees and setting up a comparative branch enclosure study. I then returned to Princeton where I worked with the Ecosystem Demography Model 2 to simulate how herbivory impacts the accumulation of biomass in secondary succession. I feel very fortunate to have experienced both field research and computational research through PEI; I will continue the computational component with David Medvigy during the academic year. In addition to developing my technical skills, this internship exposed me to a wide range of scientific research and a fascinating community of scholars. It has inspired me to major in geosciences, solidified my commitment to address environmental change professionally, and excited me about the prospect of continuing research at Princeton and beyond.

Internship Year


Project Category

Climate and Energy


Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama); Medvigy Group (Princeton University)


David Medvigy, Assistant Professor of Geosciences