Elliot Chang ’16


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project Title

Use of Alginate and Chitosan to Purify Leaf Distillates of Organic Contaminants

Presentation Link

View Elliot's Presentation

The goal of my Smith-Newton Research Project this summer was to purify tree distillates of organic contaminants using algae and chitosan hydrogel beads. The current standard of using activated charcoal as a purifying agent is not sufficient. My solution to this, a new bio-sorption technique using algae and chitosan to purify these tree distillates of organic contaminants, looks to be promising in allowing for more accurate study of water isotopes, and allows for a deeper study of water transportation amongst competing trees. This summer, I increased my familiarity with cryogenic vacuum distillations, and learned how to use Picarro Incorporated’s Isotope Ratio Infrared Spectrometer, giving me the necessary skill sets to analyze and understand water isotopes. This research project will be used to inform my senior thesis. I look forward to continuing my work with mentor, Adam Wolf, and civil and environmental engineering professor Kelly Caylor, in understanding the effects of organic contamination on measuring isotopic signatures of water.

Internship Year


Project Category

Climate and Energy


Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton, NJ


Kelly Caylor, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Stephen Pacala, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Adam Wolf, Associate Research Scholar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology