Two PEI-STEP Fellows Awarded Graduate Certificates in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy

Carol Peters ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute
Ning Lin and Luke MacDonald
Ning Lin (left) and Luke MacDonald

Two PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Fellows, Ning Lin and Luke MacDonald, graduated in June 2010 with Ph.D.s from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and in addition were awarded the Graduate Certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The PEI-STEP Fellowship Program provided invaluable support toward the completion of their exciting and cutting-edge doctoral research.

The PEI-STEP Fellowship Program enables Ph.D. students in another disciplinary department most often in science and engineering, but not excluding the humanities, to address the environmental policy implications of their thesis research through supplementary course-work and policy-oriented research.

The goal of PEI-STEP is to make students more effective and more versatile in their careers as scientists, teachers and leaders in the public and private sectors and to increase awareness among students and faculty of how their discipline-based skills can be brought to bear on environmental problems.

To meet the requirements of the PEI-STEP Certificate, the graduate student normally takes three courses, approved by the PEI-STEP director, on aspects of science policy related to science, technology or the environment. In addition, they must produces a paper or incorporate a policy component of publishable quality into their thesis.

2010 STEP Certificate Awardees

Ning Lin

Ning Lin’s PEI-STEP Topic, “Impact of Climate Change on Hurricane-Related Risk and Decision Making” is multi-disciplinary, involving atmospheric sciences, civil and environmental engineering, probability and statistics, economics, and policy. As Lin explains, hurricanes often induce large amount of damage to coastal areas, due to combined effects of strong winds, heavy rainfall, and storm-surge. Moreover, the risk of these hazards may be greatly increased in the future, due to climate change and sea level rise.

Lin’s group applied a mesoscale meteorology model, a structural vulnerability model, and a hydrodynamic model to investigate these hazards. Their ultimate goal was to develop a stochastic framework to access the joint risk of these hurricane-associated hazards in the context of climate change. Her PEI-STEP adviser was Michael Oppenheimer, Woodrow Wilson School.

Lin’s Ph.D. thesis topic is “Hurricane surface wind field and damage analysis.” Her thesis adviser was Erik Vanmarcke, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Lin was also a PECS Scholar. PECS, Princeton Energy and Climate Scholars, is managed by the PEI-Siebel Energy Grand Challenge. Consisting of eight faculty members and 14 Ph.D. candidates, PECS brings together a select group of highly talented and engaged Princeton Ph.D. students with research expertise ranging from energy security and technology to climate science and policy. PECS fellows are nominated by Princeton faculty and together have a unique opportunity to thoughtfully approach the multifaceted energy challenges of the 21st century. Learn more about the research Lin conducted through PECS.

Lin recently received a NOAA Climate and Global Change Postoctoral Fellowship Award, and is pursuing her research topic (hurricane surge risk) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Kerry Emanuel.

Luke MacDonald

Luke MacDonald’s work focuses on developing a sustainable engineering solution that has measurable health impact for the fluorosis epidemic in India, and developing policy mechanisms to improve global provision of clean water and sanitation. The PEI-STEP Fellowship and the ENVIRON Foundation provided funding for these projects.

MacDonald’s PEI-STEP topic was “An Effective, Sustainable Treatment Strategy to Halt the Fluorosis Endemic in Rural Villages of Jharkhand State, India.” Luke used the funding from the PEI-STEP program to design a strategy to combat fluorosis in Jharkhand, India by defluoridating the drinking water. Fluorosis is a dangerous condition caused by the ingestion of too much fluoride, and it can lead to the destruction of teeth and bones.

The goals of MacDonald’s STEP research were to integrate engineering and policy in order to: conduct a community health survey to benchmark the extent of fluorosis in remote and violent areas; design an inexpensive water filter that effectively removes fluoride from rural water supplies; and develop ways to incorporate accountable water and sanitation standards into international law, by shifting existing paradigms and introducing new ways of thinking. Luke’s PEI-STEP adviser was Burton H. Singer, Woodrow Wilson School.

His Ph.D. thesis topic is entitled “The Kinetics of Microbially Mediated Iron Reduction and an Investigation of Related Plant-Driven Redox Controls on Arsenic and Lead Mobility in a Contaminated Wetland.” His Ph.D. thesis adviser was Peter Jaffe, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

MacDonald is currently a program manager in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Learn more about the PEI-STEP Fellowship Program.