Ten graduate students named PEI Energy and Climate Scholars

Holly Welles ・ Princeton Environmental Institute

Princeton Energy & Climate Scholars logoTen Princeton University graduate students have been selected by the Princeton Environmental Institute as the most recent members of the Princeton Energy and Climate Scholars Program (PECS).

Founded in 2008, PECS provides an interdisciplinary platform for Ph.D. candidates working on any aspect of energy and climate research to interact, collaborate, exchange ideas, and gain firsthand understanding of research outside their own discipline. The new scholars join 11 other graduate students who are entering their second year of the two-year program, which also funds members’ research and professional development. Current PECS students now represent 11 different departments across the University.

The newest scholars are listed below.

Xuyuan (Ellen) Ai

Ai is based in the Department of Geosciences, where she studies the changes in biogeochemical conditions in the Southern Ocean through glacial-interglacial climate cycles during the past 450,000 years, with a focus on surface-nutrient consumption by phytoplankton. She is advised by Daniel Sigman, the Dusenbury Professor of Geological and Geophysical Sciences and professor of geosciences.

Hélène Benveniste

Benveniste is in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs’ Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP). Her research focuses on quantifying economic impacts of climate change on human-migration patterns using integrated assessment models.


Megan Eardley

Eardley, who is in the School of Architecture, focuses her work on how the “environment” emerged as a global paradigm in the second half of the 20th century, and how this paradigm reconfigured colonial ideas about climate, wealth, race and morality.


Samantha Hartzell

Hartzell focuses her research on understanding the ecohydrology of water-limited ecosystems, including deserts, tundra and rainforest canopies. She is particularly interested in Crassulacean acid metabolism, or CAM photosynthesis, which is an ecological adaptation that affords plants in arid conditions a 500 percent increase in water-use efficiency. Her adviser is Amilcare Porporato, the Thomas J. Wu ’94 Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

Katja Luxem

Luxem works in the geosciences department’s Microbial Biogeochemistry Lab studying how microorganisms produce nitrogen fertilizer. Her adviser is François Morel, the Albert G. Blanke, Jr., Professor of Geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute, Emeritus, and Senior Scholar.


Jack Murphy

Based in geosciences, Murphy examines the history of the geologic carbon cycle and the evolution of Earth’s climate on geologic timescales. He is advised by John Higgins, associate professor of geosciences.



Shiv Priyam Raghuraman

Raghuraman, who is in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, aims to understand the causes of energy imbalances in the atmosphere and how these imbalances impact the climate. His research focuses on the radiative forcing of the most important greenhouse gas — water vapor — which has a strong positive feedback on the climate system. He is advised by V. “Ram” Ramaswamy, director of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and a Princeton lecturer with the rank of professor in geosciences and atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

Serena Stein

Stein, in the Department of Anthropology, studies the cultural and environmental dimensions of international development, agribusiness and food security, as well as the energy sector and extractive economy in Southern Africa.


Emily Wei-Hsin Sun

Sun works in the group of Ian Bourg, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute, studying multiphase flow at the interfaces of minerals, water, carbon dioxide and organics, with the goal of understanding fundamental phenomena and improving predictive capabilities in carbon cycling.


Eric Teitelbaum

Teitelbaum is in the School of Architecture. His research investigates materials for energy-efficient comfort systems for the built environment, including new materials and processes for evaporative cooling and exciting new technologies for radiant cooling.