Meet Our Past Interns - 2011

  • Climate and Energy
  • Abrams, Garnet ’12

    Geosciences
    PROJECT

    Extremely Fine-Grained and Global Measurements of Greenhouse Gases

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University; Alaska, Colorado and Hawaii

    MENTOR(S)

    Mark Zondlo, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Water vapor is the strongest greenhouse gas, and its distribution and transport in the ­atmosphere require further investigation. During my summer internship, I ­participated with other Princeton researchers in the Highly Instrumented Aerial Platform for ­Environmental Research (HIAPER) Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) onboard the NSF Gulfstream V research plane. Using the Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) ­hygrometer, we gathered 25 Hz in-situ data during the last two flights. Working with ­Professor Mark Zondlo and graduate student Minghui Diao, I learned to use the ­VCSEL hygrometer by monitoring live data, applying calibrations to the data analysis, and learning the ­calibration methods in the lab between flights. I also traveled to Broomfield, CO (where the plane is based), Kona, HI, and Anchorage, AK for field research and ­instrument maintenance. I also interacted with other scientists and learned about other ­instruments used for this research. With this data, we hope to improve climate models and large scale satellite observations.

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  • Balachandran, Devika ’14

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    PROJECT

    Patterns of Zooplankton Diel Vertical Migration in the Global Ocean

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    MENTOR(S)

    Jorge Sarmiento, George J. Magee Professor of Geoscience and Geological Engineering, Professor of Geosciences, Director, Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS); Allison Smith, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Geosciences; Daniele Bianchi, Gradu

    This summer, I conducted research at Princeton in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic ­Sciences on diel vertical migration of zooplankton to determine if there were any emerging global patterns. I used online databases like the Encyclopedia of Life and ­Princeton University’s Library Catalog to compile a list of zooplankton species that ­undergo diel vertical migration and to what depths they are known to migrate. Once I completed some preliminary research, I analyzed the data available on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) online Copepod database ­manually and usedprograms like R and Microsoft Excel. Upon data analysis, I mapped the results spatially using Generic Mapping Tools and temporally using Microsoft Excel. My ­internship also entailed attending a number of seminars and talks, which included the ­exciting 2011 Annual Southern Ocean NOAA Climate Processes Team Meeting. Not only did I learn how to use a lot of useful data analysis programs this summer, but I also learned how to effectively read scientific literature.

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  • Budnick, Andrew ’13

    Geosciences
    PROJECT

    Oxygen in the North Atlantic: Variability and Measurement

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University; Iceland, New Jersey and North Atlantic

    MENTOR(S)

    Jorge Sarmiento, George J. Magee Professor of Geoscience and Geological Engineering, Director, Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS); Robert Key, Research Oceanographer, AOS; Stephanie Downes, Postdoctoral Research Associate, AOS.

    The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is a critical component of ­global water mass circulation, as the North Atlantic is one of the main locations where surface water sinks to the bottom of the ocean. This summer, I had the opportunity to study the oxygen and other water properties of the North Atlantic, both in ­models at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) and at sea on the German research vessel RV Meteor. In the lab, I compiled time series from ­previously measured data from this area to examine annual and decadal variability in water mass properties. On board the ship, I was on the team responsible for measuring oxygen in water samples taken at various points in the water column. The oxygen I measured in samples was used to calibrate electronically measured data ultimately destined for ­further research and online data repositories such as those that I used while in the lab. At the same time, I learned both about these water masses as well as how to carry out ­experimental ­oceanography on board a ship.

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  • Butnariu, Diana ’13

    Computer Science
    PROJECT

    Toward Green Data Centers for an Energy-Efficient Internet

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

    MENTOR(S)

    Mung Chiang, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Director of EDGE Lab

    Companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon store their data and offer ­information to clients by employing the use of data centers. As the amount of data stored and the amount of information requested, or in other words, the traffic load, to and from data centers increases each year, so does the demand for energy usage inside these data centers. This summer, during my Energy Challenge internship I tried to address and solve the problem of increasing energy usage inside data centers. I first created a small scale replica of a data center in the EDGE Lab and then I implemented an optimal ­server sleeping policy inside the data center replica. This policy aimed to balance energy ­consumption and request handling delays. The technique I employed would save ­energy by putting unused resources or unused servers inside the data ­center to sleep. Initial approaches generated large energy saving, but had the downside of creating equally large delays in client request handling. Thus I took a new approach and implemented a policy that optimally put servers to sleep and woke them up by ­balancing the trade-off between energy consumption and delay in request handling. In order to implement this new policy and test its validity, I replicated a small data center using servers, laptops, and power-meters in the EDGE Lab.

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  • Chen, Christine ’13

    Geosciences
    PROJECT

    Toward an Understanding of Earth’s Largest Carbon Isotope Anomaly

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Australia

    MENTOR(S)

    Adam C. Maloof, Assistant Professor of Geosciences; Jonathan M. Husson, Graduate Student, Geosciences

    The Wonoka formation, a deposit of Ediacaran-aged (635 – 542 million years ago) carbonate rocks found in South Australia, holds a record of carbon isotopic signatures of ancient oceans. These isotopic signatures suggest a major disturbance to the Ediacaran global carbon cycle—one that dwarfs humanity’s carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. This perturbation has been casually linked to the broadly synchronous radiation of macroscopic ­multicellular ­organisms during the Ediacaran.  As a geology field assistant to Jonathan Husson, a ­graduate student in the Department of Geosciences, I helped advance the research regarding our understanding and interpretations of Earth history’s largest carbon isotope anomaly. Together, we camped in the Australian outback for two months to gather ­geologic field observations of the Wonoka and collect rock samples for isotope analysis. Our fieldwork also dove-tailed with my junior paper, for which I created a geologic map of an ancient sea floor paleocanyon within the Wonoka using high-precision GPS ­equipment. ­Mapping is critical to the interpretation of carbon isotope signals, for we must first ­understand the physical settings in which the carbonates were deposited. Not only have I gained a ­first-hand understanding of the age-old marine landscapes that once covered ­Australia, but I have also acquired field research skills that will become indispensable to me as a future researcher in the geosciences.

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  • Chin, Diana ’14

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    PROJECT

    Mode Filtering of a λ ≈ 14 μm Quantum Cascade Laser via Single and Multi-Mode Fibers

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    MENTOR(S)

    Claire Gmachl, Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering

    This summer I worked as an intern in Professor Claire Gmachl’s group in the ­Department of Electrical Engineering. I helped conduct research on improving the beam ­quality of quantum cascade lasers. These lasers can potentially be used in a ­variety of ­portable devices for sensing trace gases in the atmosphere, and can thus be key in ­detecting things like global warming effects or the development of nuclear ­weapons. ­However, in order for their beams to be most effectively focused and utilized, they have to be refined. I worked on trying to reduce the number of interfering ­higher ­order modes of a Quantum Cascade laser by coupling the laser beam through hollow core glass ­waveguides. By ­imaging, graphing, and comparing the intensity profiles of the ­laser light ­before and after the use of different fibers, we were able to find that the use of a single mode fiber was ­effective in filtering out a great deal of the higher order modes. Through my own ­experiences and through the support of the Gmachl group, I feel that I was able to learn a great deal this summer about both my topic and about the research process in general.

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  • Dhaubanjar, Sanita ’13

    Engineering and Applied Science
    PROJECT

    Study on the Water Systems and Delivery of Water in Kathmandu

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Nepal

    MENTOR(S)

    Jeremy Farrar, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit and Princeton Global Scholars

    This summer I worked in the Bio-based and Green Energy laboratory at ­Kathmandu ­University researching various topics in energy recovery from wastewater. I reviewed literature on decentralised wastewater treatment systems for developing ­countries and eventually focused more on anaerobic treatment of wastewater. Through this ­internship, I gained a thorough understanding of wastewater systems and ­analysed the ­failures of wastewater treatment systems that have been implemented in ­developing ­countries,with the goal of identifying suitable treatment methods for ­Nepal. Bureaucratic and ­administrative issues are usually responsible for failure of many ­engineering projects in the third world. However, I realized that in the case of wastewater management, ­technical inefficiencies have also made it hard to develop sustainable wastewater ­treatment projects. Appropriate technologies that are simple, efficient, and easily adoptable by the local community are lacking. While I don’t plan to expand on this project yet, I am interested in looking into wastewater management issues.

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  • Dix, Daniel ’12

    Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    PROJECT

    Collecting and Visualizing Data for Energy Systems Analysis

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    MENTOR(S)

    Professor Powell, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    This summer, I worked in the Princeton Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis (PENSA), on data visualization and collection for Professor Powell. The main focus of the ­internship was creating a means to observe hour-by-hour load, flow, and generation data for the PJM Interconnections electric grid, which spans from Chicago to North Carolina. I worked with a number of other interns, each of whom had a very important role. Much of my internship involved finding ways to map data from one form to another. In ­particular, I needed to obtain physical location data and connect it to the bus node ID number, which was used in the Unit Commitment model to simulate changes in the network over time. With lots of coding, we were able to create a working visualization program, which will be used next year to perform policy analysis of the Northeast electric grid.

  • Edelman, Lauren ’14

    Chemical and Biological Engineering
    PROJECT

    Investigating a Potential Mechanism of Mercury Uptake in Geobacter Sulfurreducens

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    MENTOR(S)

    François Morel, Albert G. Blanke, Jr., Professor of Geosciences; Yan Xu, Associate Research Scholar, Geosciences

    The goal of my research was to develop a protocol to investigate a protein, GSU1338, which could play a role in mercury uptake in the bacterium Geobacter ­sulfurreducens. This ­bacterium is known to methylate mercury; thus, it contributes to the process of ­biomagnifications of methyl mercury, an environmental concern. Understanding the ­process of methylation is important to minimizing the toxic effects of mercury ­contamination. My project was focused on developing a method for over-expressing, isolating, and ­purifying the GSU1338 protein. Specifically, I used Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), a method of amplifying a fragment of DNA, and gel electrophoresis to facilitate the ­construction of a plasmid vector, transformed the plasmid into E. coli, induced transcription, and ­began the isolation and purification of the protein. I learned new experimental techniques, like PCR, gel electrophoresis, and protein gels. I was exposed to scientific literature and gained insights on working independently to develop an experimental procedure. This internship introduced me to the field of environmental science. As a part of a research group, I listened to discussions about advancements in the field, and contributed my own small advancement. This internship has reaffirmed my interest in environmental science and has given me hands on experience.

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  • Graham, Kieryn ’13

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    PROJECT

    Controlling Alien and Monitoring Reintroduced Species

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Gondwana Canyon Park, Namibia

    MENTOR(S)

    Sue Cooper and Trygve Cooper, Gondwana Canyon Park

    I spent my time as a Development Challenge intern in Gondwana Canyon Park in southern Namibia. My primary objective was to gain experience in nature conservation and monitoring and management strategies in Namibia. As part of my internship, I wrote a proposal which looked at the number, sexes, and ranging patterns of leopards in the park and included suggestions for future leopard monitoring efforts in the area. The work I began will be continued in the future and my proposal will be available for viewing on the Environmental Information Service, Namibia website. I also spent my time collecting and analyzing camera-trap data, helping out in routine fence patrols and participating in the Park’s annual game count.

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  • Gupta, Ashish ’13

    Computer Science
    PROJECT

    Developing Databases and Models at the Princeton Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis (PENSA)

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    MENTOR(S)

    Warren Powell, Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Director, Program in Engineering and Management Systems

    This summer I worked on a project involving the creation of a model to simulate the movement of power throughout a network grid in the US. This requires understanding the way energy is transmitted from a generation to a load and how a network of supply and demand is constrained. The power grid model ultimately boils down to an optimization problem where we aim to minimize system costs and energy losses. Creating this model, in part, involved managing large sets of data and using machine learning techniques to efficiently parse data input for the model. The immediate goal of the project is to use this model to analyze the way our current network functions, and to create simulations that illustrate the effects of altering parameters, such as the type of energy being delivered. The long-term goal is to eventually determine how we can move towards cleaner forms of energy such as wind.

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  • Harrel, William ’13

    Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    PROJECT

    Energy Grid Modeling

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    MENTOR(S)

    Warren Powell, Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Director, Program in Engineering and Management Systems

    The goal of this project was to create a model of Solar Renewable Energy ­Credits (SRECs) to compute a forward price curve and assess the viability of solar energy, ­especially in Massachusetts. Working with Professor Powell, I created a multi-agent stochastic model and a simulation interface to run with many different input ­parameters. Upon ­completion, we noticed that the design of the credit system led to huge ­uncertainties, and this was discouraging companies from building solar energy. In response to these uncertainties, we worked to design a better system that would be more effective at stimulating growth, while still minimizing the cost for ratepayers and taxpayers. We have recently started working with two people from the Woodrow Wilson School to determine the best way to change our ideas from theory into actual policy. I learned quite a bit about energy systems, modeling, and programming this summer, and I am continuing my work as junior independent work. I had a fantastic time, and as I ­consider future ­summer plans, I will definitely be looking at academic positions so I can have another great experience.

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  • Huang, Brian ’13

    Computer Science