Jack Zhou, 2015, Woodrow Wilson School

This summer I interned in the Sigman Lab at Princeton University where I worked on the nutrient cycle between corals and their photosynthetic symbionts and how it changes in a warming world. One of the most salient signs of global warming is coral bleaching, the phenomena where corals eject their symbionts in response to a change in temperature and transform a coral reef into a bleach-white expanse of calcium carbonate. My tasks this summer included calibrating an Elemental Analyser to be sensitive to isotopic differences at the nano-mole scale, establishing a procedure for coral-symbiont separation and analyzing samples for isotopic differentials. I also spent a week in Bermuda collecting samples for my analysis. I experienced firsthand how fieldwork is accomplished and the importance of teamwork and communication while out in the field. I wish that I had partaken in this internship earlier in my Princeton career, as it would have definitely changed my academic trajectory. Nonetheless, this internship was an extremely rewarding experience and I am grateful that I had the chance to conduct scientific fieldwork and research before I graduate.