Yaxin Duan ’23

Headshot of Yaxin Duan

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Project Title

Growing in the Garden State: Understanding Factors That Impact Food Production

Presentation Link

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I worked on a group project that analyzed crop data from five farms in New Jersey to study how environmental factors and farming methods affect crop health and productivity. I monitored the growth and health of tomatoes specifically, and I found that disease was a major factor impacting productivity. I discovered that farmers could maintain productivity without spraying fungicide by investing in various farming practices such as planting disease-resistant companion crops or implementing wide-row spacing. These farming techniques affect not only plant health, but also profits and environmental health. For example, wide-row spacing slows the transmission of disease, but decreases the number of plants per acre and thus the profit per acre. By observing the potentially devastating effects of disease on crops, I gained a better appreciation for all the food I took for granted. From the various other tasks I performed, I acquired a greater awareness of how different farming practices can either sequester or release carbon, which will help me as I continue to seek out ways to help the environment.

Internship Year


Project Category

Food Systems, Water And Human Health


Rubenstein Group, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University


Daniel Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Gina Talt, Sustainability Project Assistant, Office of Sustainability