Marah Sakkal, 2020, Undeclared

My work focused on the effect of seawater intrusion on soils as a result of sea-level rise. The interactions between ions in seawater and organic compounds in soil could release harmful chemicals that may deplete the ozone layer, and I helped elucidate these mechanisms. I created profiles for soil samples from different geographical zones to uncover their fundamental compositions and learn how they contribute to seawater interactions. By drawing from various geographical regions, we were able to realize the effect of sea-level rise in different areas due to their unique soil composition. One of the highlights of my internship was collecting pristine, untouched soil samples for the lab and mastering the use of analytical machines such as the benchtop X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer. I now better understand the fieldwork aspect of many researchers’ careers, and I honed my troubleshooting and problemsolving skills with each challenge I faced. These skills also have instilled in me an appreciation for geochemists’ crucial role in the environmental field, and I hope to use this knowledge at Princeton, such as through my junior project and senior thesis.

* This internship is connected to the PEI Water and the Environment Grand Challenges project, “Adsorption of Emerging Organic Contaminants on Clay Surfaces.”