Five Ph.D. Students Awarded PEI-STEP Fellowships

Holly Welles ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Five graduate students have been awarded 2015 PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Fellowships by the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI). The recipients include: Jane Baldwin from atmospheric and oceanic sciences, Ryan Edwards from civil and environmental engineering, Jack Hoang Lu from chemical and biological engineering, and Andrew Tilman and Timothy Treuer from ecology and evolutionary biology.

2015 PEI-STEP Fellows

Jane Baldwin, Perkins Fellow

Jane Baldwin
Jane Baldwin

Ph. D. Thesis: Climatic Drivers and Environmental Sensitivity of Arid Regions in Asia

PEI-STEP Adviser: Michael Oppenheimer, geosciences and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School

PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Topic: Correlated Risk of Climate Extremes with Global Warming and its Implications for Catastrophe Insurance

In her research, Baldwin is using a combination of dynamical climate models and atmospheric observations to elucidate the ties between global and regional climate with the goal of improving predictions of climate change at regional levels. Inspired by previous study in China and interests in environmental policy and history, she is currently studying the extratropical arid regions that stretch across interior Asia. She hopes to improve understanding of the controls on this region’s basic climate, as a prerequisite to examining its environmental change. “For my PEI-STEP project, I will use several models to quantify how the correlated risk of heat waves and drought over the United States may vary with climate change. I will then explore the policy implications of these results, particularly for Federal crop insurance policies,” said Baldwin.

Ryan Edwards, Perkins Fellow

Ryan Edwards
Ryan Edwards

Ph. D. Thesis: Environmental Impacts and Opportunities of Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

PEI-STEP Adviser: Denise Mauzerall, civil and environmental engineering and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School

PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Topic: Exploring Environmental Policy and Regulation of Unconventional Oil and Gas Development Internationally

Edwards’ Ph.D. thesis research investigates potential environmental impacts and opportunities associated with unconventional oil and gas development. He is investigating the fate of hydraulic fracturing fluid and the potential for CO2 sequestration in shale gas formations. His PEI-STEP project will focus on environmental regulation of unconventional oil and gas development in the U.S., China, Canada, and Australia. “My goal is to review and compare regulations in key counties and develop recommendations as to how each country can strengthen its environmental protections. I will also consider the types of regulatory frameworks that most effectively mitigate environmental risks, and that are most adaptable to the continually evolving understanding of environmental impacts of unconventional oil and gas development,” said Edwards.

Jack Hoang Lu, Ford Fellow

Jack Hoang Lu
Jack Hoang Lu

Ph. D. Thesis: Moving Beyond Antibiotics: Development and Translation of Next-Generation Antivirulence Therapies

PEI-STEP Adviser: Bryan Grenfell, ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs, Woodrow Wilson School

PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Topic: Modeling and Application of Antibiotic Pollution Mitigation Strategies to Address Resistance Development

The objective of Hoang’s Ph.D. research is to develop and enable next-generation antivirulence therapies to treat antibiotic resistant infections. Hoang said, “The PEI-STEP porgram will provide me with invaluable experience in policy development. It will allow me to integrate both biological and policy-based approaches to tackle the complex problem of antibiotic resistance, which would be otherwise too difficult solve if approached from only a single disciple or perspective.” Hoang said his PEI-STEP project aims to model the impact of antibiotic waste on the emergence of resistant organisms in the environment, and to assess how to manage antibiotic waste to limit the spread of resistant infections. He hopes his work will help generate more responsible antibiotic waste management policies and improved antimicrobial stewardship from an environmental perspective.

Andrew Tilman, Ford Fellow

Andrew Tilman
Andrew Tilman

Ph. D. Thesis: Common-Pool Resource Management in Fisheries

PEI-STEP Adviser: Michael Oppenheimer, geosciences and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School

PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Topic: Climate Action Via a Small but Powerful Coalition

The core of Tilman’s thesis is focused on common-pool resource management, with application to fisheries. Specifically, he is studying the ecological, economic, and social dimensions of how and when fishing cooperatives can avert the tragedy of the commons. Fisheries and the atmosphere are common pool resources that are subject to over-exploitation. Despite two decades of negotiation, no effective global agreement has been reached for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “Under the current approach, a single major nation’s unwillingness to comply destabilizes the process,” explained Tilman. ”In my PEI-STEP project I will study whether a single small coalition of the biggest economic players can spur broad action on climate change by enforcing mitigation policies through economic sanctions aimed at trade. This approach should advance the field because it is not known what the synergistic effects of inequality and sanctions might be, and whether these effects imply that a single small agreement could lead to global action,” he said.

Tim Treuer, Ford Fellow

Tim Treuer
Tim Treuer

Ph. D. Thesis: Regenerating Tropical Forests

PEI-STEP Adviser: Michael Oppenheimer, geosciences and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School

PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Topic: Additionality, Mechanisms, and Scalability of a Novel Carbon Offset Scheme

Treuer has selected to focus his dissertation research on understanding the process of forest regeneration taking place in the many former pastures found in the Guanacaste Conservation Area in Costa Rica—the world’s largest tropical forest restoration project, with forty thousand hectares of regenerating tropical dry forest. Treuer explained, “Throughout the tropics, as a result of urbanization, globalization, and other forces causing shifts in agricultural practices, large amounts of farmland and pastures are being allowed to spontaneously regenerate into forest. For my PEI-STEP Project, I want to investigate the possibility of using agricultural waste products to increase carbon sequestration on regenerating lands. To do so I will be taking advantage of a unique situation near my field sites where a large patch of abandoned farmland was fertilized using orange peels. I plan to measure the carbon sequestration at the fertilized site versus adjacent unfertilized sites, test the mechanisms driving higher carbon sequestration, and model how such fertilization could be promoted in the context of existing policy schemes.”