Elaine Zhou ’20


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Linking Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function in the Legume-Rhizobia Symbiosis

I worked to understand the symbiotic relationship between legumes and rhizobia in diverse tropical forest ecosystems. The soils of Neotropical forests are known to be low in nutrients. Legumes are important because of their ability to fertilize forests and provide nutrients to the soil. I primarily worked in the lab sterilizing root nodules, performing DNA extractions and amplifying the DNA through polymerase chain reaction (PCR). I gained insight into practical lab skills and, in my free time, I was able to explore Panama, which exposed me to a different cultural experience outside of the lab. This internship prepared me for my senior independent research by allowing me to develop better lab and data analysis skills. I now have a better understanding of how research projects are developed and carried out.

Internship Year


Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation


Hedin Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University- Panama City, Panama


Lars Hedin, George M. Moffett Professor of Biology, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Princeton Environmental Institute; Trish Brandt, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology