Meet Our Past Interns - 2015

  • Alternative Energy
  • Acevedo, Melina ‘16

    Acevedo_Melina_lg.jpg
    PROJECT

    Copper Nanowires for Hydrogen Evolution and Hydrogen Oxidation

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton University Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Bruce Koel, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

    This summer I conducted research in the Koel lab of the Princeton CBE department. The purpose of my research was to synthesize and characterize copper nanowires for alkaline water splitting. I used scanning electron microscopy to characterize my nanowires, and cyclic voltammetry and polarization curves to asses their activity for the hydrogen evolution reaction. In addition to gaining familiarity with microscopy and electrochemistry techniques, I also gained perspective as to what life is like as a materials science/chemical engineering graduate student. Overall, this internship allowed me to become more comfortable as an independent researcher and to develop a method of approaching scientific research problems. This year, I will build upon the research of this summer and work to improve the activity of my nanoparticles. I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in the fields of materials science and energy.

  • Ho, Emily ‘18

    PROJECT

    Clean Small Fusion Reactors

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Samuel Cohen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    I worked as a research intern for Dr. Sam Cohen at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), which is dedicated to achieving fusion as an economical and clean alternative energy source. Dr. Cohen is focused on a type of reactor called the Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration (PFRC-2) because he believes that small reactors are the safest, most sensible means to that end. Under his tutelage, I studied and examined the various causes of oscillations in the plasma. Understanding the behavior of the oscillations of ions and electrons and interactions between those oscillations is key to analyzing how instabilities will grow and behave in plasma. For this project I used a Phantom camera, which takes videos at thousands of frames per second, and a Langmuir probe, an electrode inserted into the plasma. Working with these tools in the lab alongside Dr. Cohen’s other undergraduate and graduate students not only gave me a glimpse of how experimental physics research is conducted, it also gave me a new passion to study physics.

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  • Jiao, Sally ‘18

    Chemical and Biological Engineering
    PROJECT

    Crystallization of Thin Films Under Spatial Confinement

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Loo Group, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Lynn Loo, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

    In organic semiconductors, charge is transported from molecule to molecule along conjugated backbones. Understanding how various factors affect the arrangement of these molecules (i.e. how they crystallize) can help us build more efficient organic electronic devices. To that end, I researched the thin-film crystallization of TES-ADT (triethylsilylethynyl anthradithiophene), an organic semiconductor. TES-ADT films are disordered upon spincoating, but crystallize upon exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane vapor. My project focused on probing the relationship between the thickness of a TES-ADT film and its crystallization growth rate and nucleation density. I found no nucleation in films less than 50 nm, instantaneous nucleation with 0.3 nuclei/mm^2 in films 50-130 nm, and progressive nucleation with 1.6 nuclei/mm^2 in films 130-300 nm. I also found that the growth rate increases linearly with thickness across the whole range of film thicknesses tested. Tuning the film thickness could thus be an important tool in producing patterned films with desired properties for electronic device applications. In addition to developing and practicing the practical lab skills needed to carry out the experiments, I discovered the importance of meticulousness and patience in an academic lab setting. This internship reinforced my interest in materials science research with real world applications.

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  • Laoui, Anid ‘18

    Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    PROJECT

    Financial Modeling for Mobile Electric Device Commercial Project

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Lightening Energy, Dover, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Eric Materniak, Lightening Energy

    The environmental impact of our current carbon-based economy is quickly becoming unsustainable. As governments and companies alike look to alternatives, it is apparent that battery technology will be an integral part of future energy consumption. This summer I had the chance to work at Lightening Energy, a government-contracted company looking at the future of the battery. As an intern, my primary responsibility was to assess the viability of the company’s novel technology for current and future commercial markets. Such analysis required extensive financial modeling across a variety of industries where battery demand is expected to grow. To achieve accurate models, the other interns and I used large amounts of data from energy utility companies along with other targeted market research to assess a market’s potential. After compounding our results, we were given the opportunity to present our findings to the rest of the team as well as several board members, business consultants and patent attorneys. Working with the Lightening team enriched my passion for the value of renewable energy and provided me with insight into both the public and private side of technology development. This opportunity has augmented my professional interest in the field and I hope to continue pursuing sustainable business tech in the near future.

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  • Li, Weimen ‘17

    Electrical Engineering
    PROJECT

    Electrical Engineering for Mobile Electric Device Commercial Project

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Lightening Energy, Dover, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Eric Materniak, Lightening Energy

    My internship at Lightening Energy centered on envisioning and developing different technologies that utilize renewable energy sources. I worked on three different projects during my time there. The first project focused on the RCube, an autonomous energy storage and microgeneration platform that would allow residential customers and small businesses to generate and store renewable energy from multiple sources and provide a platform for home automation technologies. My role was to design and then write a simulation for a control system for the RCube. I also helped to plan additional automation features that could be integrated into the system. The second project was the Athleticap, a fitness tracking/ injury prevention wearable electronic that uses Lightening Energy’s proprietary battery technology. My primary role in that project was to design and prototype the electrical circuit that the system would use; one of my ideas was to make use of energy harvesting systems in the circuit that could greatly prolong the battery life of the Athleticap. Finally, I designed an experimental procedure to help form and test the company’s proprietary battery technology. My internship was a great experience. All the projects I worked on fueled my interest in robotics and control systems, which I plan to further explore at Princeton.

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  • Liu, Guanghao (Jackey) ‘18

    Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    PROJECT

    Clean Small Fusion Reactors

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Samuel Cohen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    This summer I worked as an intern at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) on a computational project for the Clean Small Fusion Reactor project under Dr. Sam Cohen, which involved simulating the fusion reactor and experimenting with the simulation. The goal of my project was to implement and observe a new type of heating called “autoresonant heating” which Dr. Cohen predicts could be developed as an alternative or supplemental heating source. Through this internship, I gained valuable experience working with and coding very technical physics simulations, which allowed me to apply a lot of what I learned in computer science, math, and physics courses at Princeton to a project outside of the classroom. Unlike working on projects for a class, however, this internship gave me the opportunity to understand how real, open-ended research is carried out. I learned that in the real world, it’s just as important to be able to frame problems as it is to solve them. This internship has prompted me to consider pursuing more computational-type internships in the future, and also to consider programming as a career choice.

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  • Melesse, Bizuwork ‘16

    PROJECT

    Fabrication of Mg-ion Battery

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Arnold Lab, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Craig Arnold, Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    My summer internship in Professor Craig Arnold’s lab consisted of working with beyond-lithium battery solutions, specifically, magnesium ion batteries. A promising alternative to lithium ion batteries, magnesium ion batteries provide a safer yet cost-effective means of energy storage. However, the full potential of such battery systems is yet to be realized because of the lack of a combination of robust electrolyte and cathode materials. To that end, my main goal this summer was to design, synthesize, and characterize metal oxide-based cathode materials. In the process of designing the cathode materials, I learned the relative importance of particle size and crystallinity (or the lack thereof) for cathode materials. My lessons were further reinforced through the synthesis and characterization processes. Overall, my research revealed both the significance of energy storage materials today and the challenges of coming up with a practical solution. As a result, I am encouraged to pursue this research further through my senior thesis and hopefully through work in future graduate studies.

  • Pardinas, Kevin ‘16

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    PROJECT

    Analysis of a Microplasma in Carbon Dioxide Gas

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Yevgeny Raitses, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    I performed research this summer on the properties of microdischarges in carbon dioxide gas, a field that has numerous real-world applications including carbon dioxide mitigation, carbon material synthesis, and reforming of methane to produce synthesis gas, a valuable resource. A microhollow cathode design was utilized to confine the microplasma, and the surface deposition upon a nickel substrate was investigated. Electrical and optical properties of the microplasma were analyzed, with the hope of learning more about the microdischarge system. If implemented in the exhaust of a fossil fuel power station or an automobile, a microplasma system has the capacity to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through the decomposition of carbon dioxide. I was specifically involved in the assembly of the microdischarge system and the experimental analysis. The primary objectives of this project were achieved; our spectroscopy data confirmed that carbon dioxide was decomposed, a promising result for the environmental applications of my research. I had a fantastic experience working in a first-class, professional research laboratory, and learning about the excitement of success in academic research and the great lessons learned from failures. This summer’s work has encouraged me to continue working with microplasmas as part of my senior thesis.

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  • Pearcy, Jacob ‘18

    Physics
    PROJECT

    Clean Small Fusion Reactors

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    Samuel Cohen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Over the summer, I assisted in performing diagnostics and expanding theoretical explanations regarding X-ray emission from the Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration 2 (PFRC-2) device. Through a combination of data gathering, data analysis, simulation, and theoretical calculations I helped the research team gain a fuller understanding of the characteristics and some possible causes of unexpectedly high X-ray emission. As a result of the internship, I feel much more prepared to conduct scientific research in the future, and my experience has solidified my desire to pursue physics as my major.

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  • Tayvah, Uriel ‘17

    PROJECT

    Fluorous Organocatalysis in Green Medicinal Chemistry

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Zhang Lab at University of Massachussetts, Boston, MA

    ADVISER(S)

    Wei Zhang, University of Massachusetts Boston

    Many medically important small molecules can be synthesized in the lab, but often these syntheses involve the use of environmentally harmful catalysts and solvents. Over the summer I worked with a group that works to synthesize structures common in biologically active small molecules using organocatalysts (catalysts containing mostly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other non-metal elements) instead of metal-containing catalysts. This project focused on the synthesis of spirocyclic oxindoles, a class of molecules that includes a number of molecules with important biological activity. My main tasks were running reactions and characterizing and purifying the resulting products. I also copy edited manuscripts before they were sent for review. Over the course of the internship, I learned techniques often used in organic chemistry labs, such as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (a method used to identify the compounds present in a reaction mixture) and high performance liquid chromatography (a method used to separate the components in a reaction mixture). I hope familiarity with these techniques and with the research process overall will be helpful in any future research I may undertake.

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  • Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Chiu, Carol ‘17

    Chemical and Biological Engineering
    PROJECT

    The Role of Alternative Nitogenase Usage in Environmental N2 Fixation

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Morel Laboratory, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

    ADVISER(S)

    François Morel, Professor, Geosciences

    For summer 2015, I researched in the Morel lab on the benefits of the alternative nitrogenases over the Mo nitrogenase in a purple nonsulfur bacterium called Rhodopseudomonas palustris. Nitrogenase is the enzyme used for nitrogen fixation. R. palustris is special in that it can express three types of nitrogenase, Mo, V, and Fe. I discovered that the alternative nitrogenases grow better than the Mo nitrogenase in more reduced environments. The theory is that the alternative nitrogenases are better at getting rid of excess electrons during nitrogen fixation.

  • Coates, Danielle ‘18

    PROJECT

    Rainwater Catchment System, Kenya

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Engineers Without Borders

    ADVISER(S)

    Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

    The Kenya team of the Princeton University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders is working on providing clean, accessible drinking water to different communities in Kuria West. To date, our team has designed and built two 60,000L rainwater catchment systems that harvest water in Muchebe. This project involves installing gutters along the roofs, laying pipes around the school, and excavating a pit for our storage tanks. We worked alongside community members in building the system out of locally available materials. Additionally, we taught them both how to maintain the system and how to develop better sanitation practices. This trip was an immensely valuable experience for us to learn about international development challenges as well as ways to run a sustainable engineering program within a community. Looking forward, we hope that by raising awareness of the risks of poor hygiene and waterborne illnesses, community members will encourage other members to share proper sanitary practices. This will, in turn, allow the members of the community to be healthier and thus be able to work and go to school.

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  • Dooner, MacKenzie ‘17

    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    PROJECT

    Teaching Assistant for Conservation Clubs

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Mpala Research Center, Kenya

    ADVISER(S)

    Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Nancy Rubenstein, Mpala Research Centre

    This summer, I worked with the Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs (NKCC) alongside Nancy Rubenstein of the Mpala Research Center. These after-school clubs run in 12 schools in the Laikipia district, with the aim of instilling students with ecological awareness through experiential learning. Over 300 primary and secondary school students participate in club activities and conservation projects. My role this summer was to deliver lessons on topics ranging from the water cycle, to behavioral adaptations, to the value of biodiversity. I worked side-by-side with a college-bound intern from the Mpala village to deliver the dynamic NKCC curriculum to one after-school club each day. I became fully convinced of the importance of environmental education, especially in the developing regions of the globe. I was so struck by the ecosystem dynamics in Laikipia that I decided to change concentrations from geology to ecology and evolutionary biology when I returned to Princeton in the fall.

  • Gideon, Roan ‘18

    PROJECT

    Rainwater Catchment System, Kenya

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Engineers Without Borders

    ADVISER(S)

    Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

    The Kenya team of the Princeton University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders is working on providing clean, accessible drinking water to different communities in Kuria West. To date, our team has designed and built two 60,000L rainwater catchment systems that harvest water in Muchebe. This project involves installing gutters along the roofs, laying pipes around the school, and excavating a pit for our storage tanks. We worked alongside community members in building the system out of locally available materials. Additionally, we taught them both how to maintain the system and how to develop better sanitation practices. This trip was an immensely valuable experience for us to learn about international development challenges as well as ways to run a sustainable engineering program within a community. Looking forward, we hope that by raising awareness of the risks of poor hygiene and waterborne illnesses, community members will encourage other members to share proper sanitary practices. This will, in turn, allow the members of the community to be healthier and thus be able to work and go to school.

    SEE PRESENTATION
  • Harvey, Morgen ‘16

    English
    PROJECT

    Grazing Regimes and Impacts on Animal Health, Kenya

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Mpala Research Centre, Kenya

    ADVISER(S)

    Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    This summer I traveled to Kenya to work as an intern for a grazing project headed by Professor Rubenstein. This study focused on the effects of different grazing patterns on cattle health and vegetation. My job consisted mostly of fieldwork; I collected plant transect data in previously established plots of investigation and observed and recorded cattle and sheep bite step patterns and behavior. I learned about the current grazing issues in the Laikipia district in Kenya as well as the local struggles over grazing rights and effective grazing techniques. We experimented with a planned grazing pattern instead of traditional grazing to see if this would help prevent overgrazing and increase cattle health and vegetation health. I learned not only about the species of grass and the particular climate we were studying , but also about all aspects of collecting data and conducting research. This was an incredible learning experience that immersed me in a diverse and rich culture which I hope to eventually revisit. As a student interested in pursuing veterinary medicine, this internship helped me confirm my interest in studying large animals.

  • Hung, Brendan ‘17

    Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    PROJECT

    Rainwater Catchment System, Kenya

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Engineers Without Borders

    ADVISER(S)

    Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

    The Kenya team of the Princeton University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders is working on providing clean, accessible drinking water to different communities in Kuria West. To date, our team has designed and built two 60,000L rainwater catchment systems that harvest water in Muchebe. This project involves installing gutters along the roofs, laying pipes around the school, and excavating a pit for our storage tanks. We worked alongside community members in building the system out of locally available materials. Additionally, we taught them both how to maintain the system and how to develop better sanitation practices. This trip was an immensely valuable experience for us to learn about international development challenges as well as ways to run a sustainable engineering program within a community. Looking forward, we hope that by raising awareness of the risks of poor hygiene and waterborne illnesses, community members will encourage other members to share proper sanitary practices. This will, in turn, allow the members of the community to be healthier and thus be able to work and go to school.

    SEE PRESENTATION
  • Lin, Lucy ‘18

    Computer Science
    PROJECT

    Rainwater Catchment System, Kenya

    ORGANIZATION / LOCATION

    Engineers Without Borders

    ADVISER(S)

    Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

    The Kenya team of the Princeton University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders is working on providing clean, accessible drinking water to different communities in Kuria West. To date, our team has designed and built two 60,000L rainwater catchment systems that harvest water in Muchebe. This project involves installing gutters along the roofs, laying pipes around the school, and excavating a pit for our storage tanks. We worked alongside community members in building the system out of locally available materials. Additionally, we taught them both how to maintain the system and how to develop better sanitation practices. This trip was an immensely valuable experience for us to learn about international development challenges as well as ways to run a sustainable engineering program within a community. Looking forward, we hope that by raising awareness of the risks of poor hygiene and waterborne illnesses, community members will encourage other members to share proper sanitary practices. This will, in turn, allow the members of the community to be healthier and thus be able to work and go to school.

    SEE PRESENTATION
  • Martocello, Donald ‘18