Daniel Qian ’19



Project Title

Nitrogen Acquisition by Marine Phytoplankton

This summer, I interned with the Ward Lab in the Geosciences Department. The research I conducted examined PCR optimization and DNA sequences of marine phytoplankton. Through this work, we hope to add to current phytoplankton enzyme sequence databases. Photosynthetic phytoplankton productivity is often controlled by nitrogen availability and most of the important phytoplankton in the ocean are not represented in the genetic databases. I grew eight different species of phytoplankton in culture after making my own media. In order to track the growth rates of the phytoplankton, I learned how to use a fluorometer and a microscope. Once the phytoplankton were grown, I performed DNA extractions and then amplified the DNA using PCR. During this project, I learned useful technical skills, like how to operate different pieces of lab equipment, how to use statistical software, and how to abide by general laboratory procedures. This summer allowed me to gain significant experience in the research sciences and has definitely informed my academic path.

Internship Year


Project Category

Climate Science


Ward Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ


Bess Ward, Professor, Geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute