Meet Our Past Interns - 2012

  • Climate and Energy
  • Adler, Lily ‘15

    PROJECT

    Ice Sheet Variability 300 Million Years Ago as an Analog to Modern Climate Change

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton Dept. of Geosciences, Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Adam Maloof, Associate Professor, Geosciences

    The goal of my PEI summer internship was to study rocks and other geological features in order to understand the climate of Earth’s ancient history and in turn, to better understand future climate change. By collecting and studying rocks that preserved oxygen isotopes deposited 300 million years ago, we can better understand the extent of global glaciation from that time period. As a part of this internship, I spent the summer hiking in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Not only did I get to see amazing parts of the American west, but I also learned how to collect data in the field. Having known nothing about geology, I learned a great deal about the basics of geology and began to make sense of the physical world around me. I learned how to see and identify fossils as well as many different types of rock formations. This internship expose me to not only geology, but also to a part of America that I had never seen before. While the internship did not necessarily persuade me to major in geology, it did show me that the more you know about the physical world, the more amazing and beautiful it becomes.

  • Bai, Vincent ‘14

    Chemical and Biological Engineering
    PROJECT

    Development of Flow Through Electrodes for Vanadium Flow Batteries

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    ADVISER(S)

    Jay Benziger, Professor Chemical and Biological Engineering

    I worked with the Benziger Reaction Engineering Group to study flow regimes through electrodes of vanadium redox flow batteries (VRBs). VRBs are being researched as potential energy storage systems that can reduce the negative effects of surges in consumption and/or production when variable energy resources such as solar and wind are used. The goal of my project was to modify the standard diffusive flow regime used in most VRB designs to allow for convection of the electrolyte within the reaction chamber. We wanted to see if the modified design would increase battery efficiency and power output. Since this project was new to my research group, I was able to experience firsthand the amount of work necessary to start up a project. I spent part of my summer designing and constructing the batteries and gained valuable insight into the process of selecting and acquiring materials. By the end of the summer, we had promising data that demonstrated that the modified convective flow regime was more efficient. This internship solidified my desire to work in the energy industry, and I plan to continue working on this project during the school year.

  • Cai, Regina ‘15

    Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    PROJECT

    Modeling Wind Speed Distributions

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    North China Electric Power University, China

    ADVISER(S)

    Eric Larson, Research Engineer, Princeton Environmental Institute. Lecturer in Chemical and Biological Engineering; Liu Yongqian, North China Electric Power

    In Beijing this summer, I sought to gain a holistic understanding of China’s energy production and consumption from an academic viewpoint. I mapped out two mathematics- and statistics-based projects, while networking and leveraging my work to seek out opportunities at Tsinghua University that would allow me to explore and pursue my academic interests in applied mathematics and economics. In one project, I devised multiple potential goodness-of-fit tests as variations on the least-squares method of curve fitting. While I recognized some limitations of my math and statistical skills, my interest in these subjects led me to learn about machine learning and MATLAB. I then incorporated my new knowledge and skills into my tests. I also analyzed supercycles in commodity prices, developing my economic research skills by finding relevant data online and putting it in the context of literature from textbooks and journals. I juxtaposed papers from academic and financial institutions to create a project plan with potential for future work at Princeton. Overall, I challenged myself by asking difficult questions, sifting through relevant resources, and finding new ways to tie ideas together.

  • Cavanagh, Kathleen ‘14

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    PROJECT

    Exploration of Dynamic Stall on Tubercled Airfoils

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    ADVISER(S)

    Alexander Smits, Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    This summer, I worked in Professor Smits’ lab in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department studying Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT), which offer a promising alternative to the more commonly seen Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine (HAWT). Unfortunately VAWTs currently have a lower coefficient of power than HAWTs, meaning that VAWTs are less efficient at collecting the energy in the wind and turning it into electricity. This efficiency may be increased by reducing the dynamic stall on the VAWT’s blades. My research involved designing and building an apparatus to mimic the path of a blade in a VAWT. The blade within this apparatus is interchangeable, allowing for various blade geometries’ dynamic stall reductions to be tested. From these tests, a new blade geometry could be suggested to reduce the dynamic stall on VAWTs and improve their performance in order to make them a more viable source of renewable energy. This experience allowed me to see the practical applications of the theory I had learned within my classes. I learned about computer modeling and was exposed to the manufacturing process, which allowed me to take an idea from the conceptual to the physical realm.

  • Chai, Henry ‘14

    Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    PROJECT

    SMART-ISO: An Intelligent Simulator for the PJM Power Grid

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    ADVISER(S)

    Warren Powell, Professor, Operations Research and Financial Engineering

    For my summer internship working in the Princeton Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis (PENSA), I researched the functioning of the Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey Interconnection portion of the electricity grid (known as PJM interconnect). More specifically, I mined and processed data concerning the generation of and demand for electricity along the interconnect. I performed extensive time series/regression analysis on the mined data and used machine learning tools to fill in gaps within the data. Through my research I learned about the coding language SQL as well as the general structure of the PJM interconnect. I also learned more generally about approximate dynamic programming techniques and electricity markets along the east coast. My work is relevant to PEI in that the research I did over the summer allowed the PENSA lab to run simulations on the entire grid, calculating local marginal prices of electricity. These simulations will also allow for exploration into the efficiency of certain operational plans of generation. More specifically, my intended future work in this area will explore the most efficient application of grid level storage throughout the PJM Interconnect.

  • Chaibi, Abraham ‘14

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    PROJECT

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, Princeton, New Jersey

    ADVISER(S)

    My internship at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory involved the development of nuclear fusion as an alternative energy source. I worked with Dr.’s Goldston and Jaworski in two fields: modeling lithium flow in the plasma sheath of a tokomak, and designing the circuitry for a liquid lithium leak detector. By the end of the internship, I had completed the design and printed circuit board layout for the leak detector and had written an extensive report detailing the design process. This experience gave me the opportunity to develop my knowledge of programming numerical simulations in Matlab and to design and integrate complex electrical components effectively. Because of this summer research I will likely continue my study of nuclear fusion reactors through work at the Joint European Torus tokomak in the United Kingdom during my year abroad. I also hope to be able to combine this with my independent work and possibly continue working with PPPL for my senior thesis. The internship provided valuable insight into the independence required of graduate students and will definitely play a part in my post-graduation plans.

  • Cheng, Richard ‘15

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    PROJECT

    Synthesis, Characterization, and Devices Performance of Organic Photovoltaics Nanoarrays

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    ADVISER(S)

    Lynn Loo, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

    My internship with the Loo Group exposed me to research in the field of organic photovoltaics (OPV) and gave me insight into today’s solar technology. I worked with Luisa Whittaker, a postdoc, growing nanowires using different organic materials, which are supposedly cheaper than the inorganic materials used in the solar industry today. My goal was to characterize these nanowires and control their growth using a method called Physical Vapor Transport (PVT). Once I was able to control the nanowire growth, I incorporated them into an OPV device. Today’s OPVs typically combine an electron donor material and an electron acceptor material to create a device. I grew my nanowires as electron acceptors, and matched them with different electron donor materials to make different solar cell devices. While working on this project, I learned a lot about the properties and behavior of organic materials, as well as the prospects for the field of organic electronics. I hope to work further with photovoltaics through independent work, studying inorganic materials as well as organics.

  • Cheong, Matthew Chu ‘13

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    PROJECT

    Innovative Fusion Confinement Concepts

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

    ADVISER(S)

    Samuel Cohen, Director, Program in Plasma Science and Technology

    Fusion has often been considered the “holy grail” of alternative energy, In that it would provide large amounts of energy with minimal waste products. By utilizing a certain type of magnetic field, fusion reactors can be built on a smaller, easier-to-construct scale. This sort of field would allow for a simpler reactor, along with “closed” field lines that provide for superior containment. Combined with a rotating magnetic field, it is hoped that this would allow for temperatures better suited for fusion. My first project this summer was to model the trajectory of energetic, charged particles, in order to study potential energy extraction methods. For this, I studied numerical algorithms and programming techniques. The second project was to work with separate modeling software, in order to understand controllable parameters under which desirable fusion conditions could be achieved. Here, I had to further study thermodynamics, and learned to work in a Unix environment. I saw how important patience, perseverance, and humility can be if one wants to be a successful researcher. Additionally, I gained insight into what it means to study “physics.” I hope that I can continue researching and continue to learn from these experiences.

  • Cheung, Tiffany ‘15

    Molecular Biology
    PROJECT

    Effect of High CO2 on Photosynthesis and Growth in Marine Phytoplankton

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    ADVISER(S)

    François Morel, Professor, Geosciences; Jodi Young, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Geosciences; Xan Yu, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Geosciences

    Regardless of the cause of global warming, the related increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is not only affecting land life but also marine life, via alterations in the carbonate chemistry of seawater. This summer I conducted research at Princeton in a geoscience lab led by Francois Morel, studying the effects of high carbon dioxide on photosynthesis and growth in marine phytoplankton. I grew the diatom, Thalassiosira weissflogii, in artificial seawater at various carbon dioxide conditions and studied its effect on the physiology of this diatom. I harvested the samples prior to nutrient repletion and used spectrophotometry, western blotting, and radioactive carbon-14 to quantify various proteins and its activities. The data I obtained so far calls for further research; and I will continue my project this year. As a prospective molecular biology major, my internship with the Morel lab gave me the incredible opportunity to work alongside graduate students and postdoctoral research associates, allowing me to gain insights into scientific research. In addition to incorporating what I have learned in my general science classes into my own research, I learned how to successfully plan, execute, and analyze a scientific research project on my own.

  • Cognetta, Stephen ‘15

    Chemical and Biological Engineering
    PROJECT

    Development of Quantum Cascade Lasers for Atmospheric Carbon Isotope Ratio Detection

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Claire Gmachl, Professor, Electrical Engineering

    This summer I interned at the Center for Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) in Princeton, where I worked with Professor Claire Gmachl and her team to identify characteristics about lasers. I helped with developing quantum cascade laser technology, specifically Distributed Feedback Quantum Cascade (DFB QC) lasers. DFB QC lasers offer a reliable and efficient way to sense gases such as carbon dioxide or water vapor. To ensure specified detection of these gases, however, QC lasers must exhibit single-mode behavior (which means that the lasers target a specific wavenumber in the mid-infrared spectrum). This allows the laser to be used for environmental applications, such as detecting leakage from carbon sequestration. We tested a number of different DFB QC lasers to determine the operating conditions under which they exhibited single-mode behavior (parameters such as current and temperature). Throughout my internship, I learned how to use the equipment in the lab. In particular, I focused on operating the LIV (Light, current, voltage) setup and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer, both were instrumental in characterizing lasers. The main portion of my research was directly involved with the graduate students and Professor Gmachl, which exposed me to both electrical engineering and the research field. I will definitely consider my experience when applying to graduate school.

  • Conner, Charlotte ‘14

    Geosciences
    PROJECT

    Low-Carbon Transportation Fuels and Electricity from Coal and Biomass

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

    ADVISER(S)

    Eric Larson, Research Engineer, Princeton Environmental Institute

    This summer I was an intern for the Energy Systems Analysis Group (ESAG), a research unit of the Princeton Environmental Institute. I worked primarily on their project on possible energy conversion facilities that use the Fischer-Tropsch process to create synthetic fuel and electricity from coal and biomass. Fischer-Tropsch synthesis can be low-carbon, carbon-neutral, or even negative-carbon by adding biomass as a percentage of the inputs and/or by using carbon capture and sequestration technology. As an intern, I was charged with the upkeep of the master Excel spreadsheet that housed the cost components, emissions information, and fuel and electricity outputs of each hypothetical facility. I wrote and interpreted the Visual Basic code that was used to determine the economic properties of the facilities. I also used the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model (GREET), created by the Argonne National Laboratory to update ESAG’s emissions data for different fuel creation and transportation scenarios. Not only did I learn a lot about synthetic fuel creation, I also improved my knowledge of Excel and programming skills. This internship increased my interest in the methods of making clean fossil fuels both environmentally and economically friendly.

  • Davies, Daniel ‘14

    PROJECT

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Palo Alto, California

    ADVISER(S)

    In my internship, I helped a physicist, Bob Street, to research organic solar cells. During the eight weeks I was there, we focused on the degradation of the solar cells due to illumination from both UV and visible light. We focused on organic solar cells because their low cost of mass production and the flexibility of the cells. I carried out a large number of measurements on different solar cells. We looked at the degredation of the cells by examining the variation of their photo current after different amounts of exposure to either visible or UV light. During the internship I learned a tremendous amount about the research process. I was surrounded by a number of outstanding researchers who all had slightly different approaches. I learned how research can be used in a completely for-profit environment and how it can be used to help solve the world’s energy problems. While not related to my major, this internship did teach me some great techniques and I gained a huge amount of confidence in the ability of the human mind to overcome obstacles.

  • Davis, John ‘14

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    PROJECT

    The PAGA-Princeton Wind Turbine Project: Designing and Building a Wind Turbine Power System

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Pan-African Global Academy, Ghana

    ADVISER(S)

    Carolyn Rouse, Professor, Anthropology African American Studies; Catherine Peters, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science; Elie Bou-Zeid, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

    The goal of our project was to design and install a wind turbine at a secondary school founded by a Princeton professor, Carolyn Rouse. The purpose of the wind turbine was to: provide a stable source of energy for the school, serve as a research platform for the students, and promote education about sustainable energy in the school and the community. To achieve these ends, we designed the system, assisted in its construction, ordered the necessary parts, and worked with the local government to import the needed elements. We also designed part of a science curriculum for the school and helped teach a few classes. This internship gave me valuable technical knowledge about wind turbines. More importantly, I learned about working in developing countries and its related difficulties, which I had not anticipated. I plan on learning more about the economic development of growing countries and related challenges in my classes, which can hopefully supplement my experience in the field. In the future, I hope to be able to work on a similar project, using everything I learned this past summer.

  • Edelman, Laura ‘14

    Chemical and Biological Engineering