Lilly Quach ’19, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Certificate(s): Environmental Studies

I investigated the biological mechanisms behind carbon flux in the Southern Ocean. This has important implications for climate change because the Southern Ocean is a major carbon sink. For my research, I analyzed satellite data of how seasonal temperatures affect carbon-storing phytoplankton. I coded programs to analyze the levels of pCO2 (partial pressure of carbon dioxide) at different depths and to examine phytoplankton biomass trends over time. I used phytoplankton biomass as a proxy for measuring biological carbon uptake. I found that only a part of the Southern Ocean was indeed biologically driven. This internship allowed me to explore a different avenue of climate science than my usual courses at Princeton, and I have a better understanding of how marine biogeochemistry processes are involved in carbon storage. In particular, the ability to look at large datasets and determine the significance of the interacting terms will be helpful in my future as a scientific scholar.