Princeton University Logo    User Account

You are here

Meet Our Past Interns

Biodiversity

Project:
Designing and Evaluating Fishery Improvement Interventions
Organization/Location:
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), San Francisco, CA
Adviser(s):
Rod Fujita, Environmental Defense Fund

The goal of my project this summer was to evaluate and compare the management performance of data-limited and data-rich fisheries. There were two overarching research questions: can fisheries with limited data on fish biomass, age, and catch still be managed successfully, and does having more data on a fishery correspond with more effective management and better fishery performance? While there is a great amount of literature on data-limited assessment techniques, there is little known about how they perform in the water, in fisheries where only basic catch data is available. This summer, I created a database of data-rich fisheries, which will be used to evaluate their management performance. I also helped design a strategy for surveying fishery experts from around the world, in order to better understand how data-limited fisheries are faring. Lastly, I wrote a report evaluating the performance of data-rich stock assessments, which will be compared with an evaluation of the surveys on data-limited stock assessments, once the results come in. During the summer, I learned how important fisheries are and the danger they are in, but also the potential for their improvement. I will likely be pursuing a position at EDF in the future.

Project:
Community Assembly after Ecosystem Collapse in a National Park in Mozambique
Organization/Location:
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
Adviser(s):
Robert Pringle, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer, I conducted research in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. The park is at the forefront of an ambitious restoration project, designed to restore the ecological diversity and the political stability of the area following its collapse at the hands of civil conflict. It was the ideal place to study the nuanced relationship between society and nature, and the difficulties of conservation in such a dynamic and volatile system. The three graduate students I worked with offered me a much-needed insight into the intricacies of field ecology. Our research – examining fire and flood regimes, analyzing the dietary niches of ungulates, and performing exclusion experiments with waterbuck and floodplain vegetation – provided hands-on experience that has led me to think more deeply and concretely about conservation. My experiences in Mozambique have solidified my decision to turn to the field of wildlife conservation.

Project:
Impact of the Invasive Big-Headed Ant on Social and Solitary Bees in a Dryland Savannah Ecosystem
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Dino Martins, Mpala Research Centre

This summer, I interned at the Mpala Research Centre in the Laikipia District of Kenya. I studied the interactions between an invasive ant species known as the Big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala), and pollinators on the surfaces of flowers. This ant species is known to be very aggressive. It often attacks other ant species, leading to steep declines in diversity. In order to examine whether this aggressive behavior affected other species besides ants, I observed pollinator visitation on flowers that were frequented by both pollinators and the Big-headed ants. The goal of this project was to see if the ants were causing a decrease in the visitation rates. If true, this would influence how well the flowers reproduce and could potentially lower the abundance of seeds produced. Through the project, I was able to experience research in the field firsthand, gain an understanding of how small changes in visitation rates can change the diversity of the flora in an area, and get an idea of what life is like for an evolutionary and ecological biologist. This internship really helped me gain a new perspective on research outside of the geosciences.

Project:
Teaching Assistant for Conservation Clubs
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

During my time in Kenya, I taught at 12 different conservation clubs in the areas surrounding Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia County. I designed lesson plans that emphasized experiential learning to teach about resource conservation and ecosystem functioning. The clubs were created to foster an appreciation of the environment and an awareness of conservation issues among the youths who will become the region’s future livestock herders. Every day of the week, I taught at a different school, often adapting my lessons to the habitat of the schoolyard where I was teaching. In mid-July, I also helped to organize and run the annual community conservation day, when all the schools came together to share a presentation and display. My role in Kenya was to teach about noticing and valuing the local environment, but the incredible wildlife and diverse landscapes I encountered every day also taught me a deeper appreciation of the natural world.

See Presentation
Project:
Impact of Grazing Regimes on Rangeland Quality, Wildlife Use, and Livestock Health
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer, I interned with Professor Daniel Rubenstein, conducting research on livestock grazing on the land surrounding the Mpala Research Centre in Nanyuki, Kenya. From fecal DNA analysis and GPS mapping data of animal movements, the goal of the project was to have a holistic account of both livestock and wildlife grazing. By attaching programmed cameras and GPS mapping units to the livestock, I analysed visual grazing evidence from the cameras and was able to map their movement across the savannah. I also performed vegetation transects along their tracks in order to garner some idea of what vegetation types they encountered on a daily basis. Finally, from analyzing what they actually ate, using fecal DNA analysis, we pieced together a more complete picture of livestock grazing habbits. I gained invaluable skills in many different areas ranging from communication to technology, and I was really able to immerse myself in the world of field research. I am passionate about farming and ecology, and hope to continue to conduct livestock grazing research for my senior thesis.

See Presentation
Project:
Community Assembly after Ecosystem Collapse in a National Park in Mozambique
Organization/Location:
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
Adviser(s):
Robert Pringle, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer, I assisted the Pringle Lab in their ongoing field research at the E.O. Wilson Lab in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. Gorongosa National Park is currently in the midst of an ambitious restoration and conservation project, aimed at revitalizing local communities and returning the park to its former glory, following its near ecological collapse durring the recent civil war. The Pringle Lab is focusing on studies that further our understanding of community ecology within African savannas, including specific phenomena relating to the restoration of Gorongosa. Alongside three graduate students, I investigated the impacts of fire and termite-driven heterogeneity on savanna vegetation through vegetation surveys, and collected and subsampled ungulate feces to determine dietary niches and study seed dispersal. I also examined the impact of waterbuck abundance on plants and animals in a critical wetland ecosystem. In addition to gaining experience conducting field research and learning an immense amount about African ecosystems, I also witnessed firsthand many of the issues that impact modern conservation and humanitarian efforts in developing countries. My experience this summer has cemented my decision to study ecology and evolutionary biology and my desire to pursue conservation-minded field research of my own.

See Presentation
Project:
Dolphins Plus Research Internship
Organization/Location:
Dolphins Plus Inc., Key Largo, FL
Adviser(s):
Kelley Winship, Dolphins Plus Inc.

This summer, I worked as a veterinary and research intern studying Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. My responsibilities included preparing medications, creating excel spreadsheets for research projects, and processing samples before sending them to external labs for further analysis. In addition, I ran all of the in-house blood work. I also observed and assisted with a few surgeries and even a necropsy of a stranded wild dolphin. As I look back on my experience, I leave with a greater understanding of how connected the different aspects of the marine mammal field are to one another. Veterinarians rely on trainers to build relationships with their animals in order to get samples. Trainers rely on the veterinarians to keep the animals healthy. Researchers rely on both teams to help bring new insights about these animals to the scientific community. Coming into this internship, I was uncertain whether I wanted to pursue a research career in marine science or attend veterinary school. Now I realize there are ways to incorporate both into a career.

See Presentation
Project:
The Role of Large Mammalian Herbivores in African Savannas
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Robert Pringle, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer, I interned at the Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia County, Kenya where I served as a research assistant to a graduate student in Professor Pringle’s lab. The research I helped conduct focused on induced plant defenses in a thorny plant species of the genus Barleria. We were interested in how these species’ defense investment (in the form of thorn production) responded to herbivory. I helped conduct several surveys and experiments that measured plant biomass, relative fitness, and other factors in order to gain insight into this ecological relationship. In particular, we were focused on how proximity to tree cover affected thorn production and relative fitness. My primary focus was data collection/recording, as we conducted several large scale demographic surveys that spanned several experimentally treated and control plots, numbering over 500 unique plants. Through this internship, I was able to get firsthand experience in large-scale fieldwork and data acquisition, while also being able to engage with researchers and academics from a variety of fields. This cemmented my intention to declare as an ecology and evolutionary biology major, and pursue a career in research. 

See Presentation
Project:
Plants’ Talk
Organization/Location:
Caylor Ecohydrology Lab, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The goal of our project was to determine whether inoculating plants’ roots with fungi could improve their ability to defend themselves against insect attack. If so, this method could eliminate the need for GMOs and therefore limit harmful mutations in insect populations. As the more technical intern, I was in charge of building the mathematical model for our data, namely photosynthesis rates, and compiling a code to process our 500 data files. This experience both helped me hone my skills as a coder and allowed me to explore field research, an area of science I rarely encounter as a mechanical engineer. I will not be studying plants for my independent work, but the computer science I learned and worked with this summer will be incredibly helpful in the data processing I intend to do in my senior year, and I am grateful for this learning experience.

See Presentation
Project:
Fish Ecology from Ear Bones (Otoliths) Past and Present
Organization/Location:
Ward Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Bess Ward, Professor, Geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute

Over the course of the summer, I created a compilation of stable isotope data from over 150 papers studying a variety of aquatic species, including invertebrates, teleost fish, and zooplankton. This database will allow for comparison of species’ stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur, over time, environment, and location, and can be used as a tool for analyzing human impact on marine, estuarine, and other ecosystems. In addition to the database project, I worked on a time series (from 1984 to 2014) of the nitrogen isotopic signatures present in calcium carbonate structures in the inner ears of winter flounder and butterfish. I also performed some fish dissections at the beginning of the summer. This internship offered incredible insight into the complexity of aquatic ecosystems and provided opportunity to improve my skills both in the lab and using statistical software like R. As a result of this experience, I hope to continue studying the impact humanity has on the environment.

Project:
Teaching Assistant for Conservation Clubs
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer, I focused on practical conservation education and experiential learning at 12 regional schools in Laikipia County, Kenya. As an intern with the Northern Kenyan Conservation Clubs (NKCC), I helped develop and execute daily lesson plans at Kenyan primary and secondary schools, encouraging students to think critically about environmental issues in the world around them, and moving beyond the memorization-heavy Kenyan education system. As a geosciences major, I particularly enjoyed creating and teaching lessons on hydrology and the water cycle. This experience, working deep in Maasai territory, helped me become a more flexible problem solver and has given me invaluable global perspective. Working alongside Kenyan educators and researchers has also greatly improved my communication skills, and I feel better prepared to pursue my goal of traveling and teaching abroad in the future.

See Presentation
Project:
Small-Scale Fisheries Research and Training Internship
Organization/Location:
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), San Francisco, CA
Adviser(s):
Sarah Poon, Environmental Defense Fund

This summer, I interned for the Oceans Team at the San Francisco office of the Environmental Defense Fund, where I focused on small-scale sustainable fisheries reform in Belize and the Philippines. As a member of the Fishery Solutions Center, I developed case studies on how fishery reforms were implemented in small communities in these developing countries. My case study on adaptive management in Belize showed how data-limited assessments and harvest control rules could be implemented on the ground in a real-life scenario. My second case study on Ayoke Island in the Philippines showed how community consultation and decision making contributed to the design of a secure fishery rights management system. This experience gave me the opportunity to work with sustainability experts in multiple fields and confirmed my desire to work in the environmental nonprofit sector in the future. 

Project:
A Sea-Change in Seedlings? Community Shifts in Regenerating Dry Forest
Organization/Location:
Área Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Adviser(s):
David Wilcove, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs and the Princeton Environmental Institute

The work that I did this summer aimed to uncover the determining factors behind tropical dry forest regeneration. I assisted a graduate student in the field tagging, measuring, and identifying saplings in different plots in the forest. Additionally, I reviewed camera footage of fauna in these plots and completed soil testing. This internship helped me gain insight into the realm of research, and fieldwork in particular. I improved my Spanish and knowledge of forest succession and the intricacies of dry forest dynamics. I am thankful for this internship for potentially jump-starting me on a senior thesis idea and helping me figure out if research and fieldwork is something I wish to pursue in the future.

Project:
Zebra Parasites Where Two Zebra Species Coexist
Organization/Location:
Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Daniel Rubenstein, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer, I performed research on both plains (Equus quagga) and the endangered Grevy’s (Equus grevyi) zebras at Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya. Strongyles, intestinal parasites transmitted through the fecal-oral route, were the main focus of this research. These nematodes pose a health risk to equids contingent on the severity of the overall parasite burden. This burden was anticipated to vary based on the differences in social structures between the two species, abilities to range from water sources, reproduction statuses, and across environmental conditions including rainfall gradients, soil types, and vegetation quality. While working in the field, I used the McMaster technique to analyze parasite burdens. Working with Princeton faculty as well as researchers and students from across the country, I was able to get a taste of life as a field ecologist and prepare for my junior independent work this year.

See Presentation
Project:
Plants’ Talk
Organization/Location:
Caylor Ecohydrology Lab,, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Kelly Caylor, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This summer, I participated in research exploring mycorrhizal fungi’s potential role in improving the sustainability of agricultural practices through plant communication networks. The project revolved around interesting and relatively new studies of crop plants’ increased yield, pest-resistance, photosynthetic rates, and nutrient uptake when exposed to reintroduced fungal networks otherwise absent in heavily plowed and nutrient depleted crop fields. During this project, I was able to work both in a controlled lab setting on campus and in the nearby field site. My co-interns and I were deeply involved in every step of the research process from the running of initial trials all the way to data analysis. This internship helped boost my general awareness, passion for, and comfort with the processes and challenges that are part of research in the biological sciences, and I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity.

See Presentation
Project:
Identifying the Role of Heterotrophic Feeding in Nitrogen Recycling and Growth Corals
Organization/Location:
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Bermuda
Adviser(s):
Daniel Sigman, Professor, Geosciences; Samantha de Putron, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). My project focused on identifying the role of basin-scale climate variability in the decline of Atlantic corals. Most of my time in Bermuda was spent doing fieldwork including: fish surveys, coral collection, transects, underwater filming, and water sampling. I also presented my research three times during the summer to other staff members and interns working at BIOS. The summer stretched and grew me as a researcher and a communicator. I walked out of the internship with an enormous amount of knowledge and an exciting discovery of a new passion for research. I am now considering majoring in geosciences and hope to continue some of the work I started at BIOS in the future.

See Presentation
Project:
A Sea-Change in Seedlings? Community Shifts in Regenerating Dry Forest
Organization/Location:
Área Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Adviser(s):
David Wilcove, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs and the Princeton Environmental Institute

Our work this summer was centered on conducting a survey of the tree saplings in test plots that we had previously established in the Santa Rosa National Park in the Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG). My job was to help identify sapling species, record their measurements, and tag them. The ultimate goal of our project is to combine this data with data from other surveys done on trees, soil composition, and fauna to make a model for forest regeneration after clearing has taken place (for example to make agricultural lands). This internship taught me how to turn curiosity about the natural world into a testable hypothesis and investigation that could result in valuable contributions to the scientific community. I also learned how intricate and difficult the process of conservation can be, but also how vital it is to preserve the world’s biodiversity. 

Project:
Field Assistant in Study of the Effects of El Nino on Greater Ani Reproductive Biology
Organization/Location:
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
Adviser(s):
Christina Riehl, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer, I worked as a field assistant to Professor Christie Riehl, who has been studying the reproductive biology of the Greater Ani (a member of the cuckoo family) in Panama since 2005. My particular focus was on assessing the effects of El Niño conditions on the birds’ behavior and reproductive success. Through the project, I gained experience handling eggs and nestlings, and learned how to take DNA swabs and blood samples. Working from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Barro Colorado Island facility, I was also exposed to all of the other research taking place there. Getting to engage with so many biologists, as well as work one on one with Professor Riehl was an amazing experience and has made me a better student, and hopefully a better scientist. I emerged from the summer tremendously excited to pursue my interest in evolutionary biology further.

See Presentation
Project:
The Ecocritical Exhibition (Princeton University Art Museum)
Organization/Location:
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Karl Kusserow, Princeton University Art Museum

As an intern at the Princeton University Art Museum, I examined the environmental impact of an upcoming (2018) American art exhibition called Nature’s Nation. My work focused on determining specific metrics to quantify the environmental impact of this exhibition, which resulted in an investigation of museum-specific practices involving energy usage, loans, and catalogue publication. Throughout the project, I consulted with various museum departments, academics, and industry experts to gain a better understanding of sustainability measures in an institutional setting. This internship served as an invaluable introduction to museum work, and it was a wonderful opportunity to combine my academic interests in art history and the environment.

Project:
Interactive Machine Learning to Map African Crop Fields
Organization/Location:
Caylor Ecohydrology Lab, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Lyndon Estes, Associate Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School and the Program in Science, Technology and the Environment

This summer, I interned on Princeton’s Mapping Africa team, which seeks to use remote sensing technology, the Internet, computer vision, and machine learning to gain a better understanding of the distribution and extent of Africa’s farmland. My specific project was to connect Mapping Africa’s existing human intelligence and machine learning processes by creating a web mapping application. During the project, I was exposed to many new programming languages and free and open-source software (FOSS) for Geographic Information Systems (GIS). I also gained a better understanding of Africa’s food insecurity issues and how Mapping Africa’s goal of creating a more accurate map of farmland in Africa will contribute to the world’s understanding of the issues regarding the ecological and socioeconomic sustainability of agriculture in Africa. Most importantly, I witnessed the impact that computers, technology, and human beings can make when combined, and I am inspired to use it to help solve more societal problems. 

See Presentation

Climate Science

Project:
The Effect of Minerals on Organic Carbon Stability in Diverse Soil Environments
Organization/Location:
Myneni Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Satish Myneni, Professor, Geosciences

This summer, I worked with Professor Satish Myneni, studying an aspect of soil geochemistry that may influence whether soil is a vital sink – or troubling source – of carbon dioxide. In soil, bacteria can decompose organic carbon into carbon dioxide (CO2), enhancing emissions that drive climate change. However, minerals can interact with the organic carbon, trapping it in the soil and preventing the escape of CO2. To clarify this key role of minerals, we took two approaches: reacting synthetic minerals in lab, and collecting real-world field samples from the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. I also had the incredible opportunity to sample in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, where elevation differences led to diverse soil types worth studying in the future. In all cases, I analyzed the interactions through infrared spectroscopy, in which peaks on a spectrum can be assigned to molecular structures, offering a close-up view on how minerals and organic carbon interact under different conditions. This summer gave me a valuable glimpse into life as a researcher, stressing the importance of planning, flexibility, and collaboration. 

See Presentation
Project:
Calibrating Climate Records with 16-Million- Year-Old Volcanic Rocks
Organization/Location:
Schoene Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ and the Pacific Northwest
Adviser(s):
Blair Schoene, Associate Professor, Geosciences

This summer, I worked to perform high-precision U-Pb (uranium-lead) dating on samples from the Columbia River Basalt Province in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The general timing of the eruptions that produced these basalts, estimated at 17-14 Ma, corresponds with the Mid-Miocene Climate Optimum, a period of elevated global temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, past dating performed with different methods (K-Ar, Ar-Ar) has yielded ages too imprecise to properly correlate with this climatic event. Determining precise dates and rates for these eruptions is essential to understanding their role in Miocene climate. I spent the first half of the internship in the lab at Princeton, processing samples to extract the zircon crystals used for U-Pb dating. During the second half of the internship, we traveled to the Pacific Northwest to collect samples of volcanic ash and sediment between layers of basalt, since zircons do not crystallize in the basalt itself. 

See Presentation
Project:
Mixed Layer Depth Response to Changing Climate and Impact on Carbon Distribution in the Southern Ocean
Organization/Location:
The Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences

This summer I worked with Professor Jorge Sarmiento, Dr. Carolina Dufour, and Dr. Alison Gray to assess how the Southern Ocean – the ocean south of 30°S – will respond to climate change. Specifically, we looked at the output of two climate models of varying resolutions that simulated the effect of an increase in atmospheric carbon on the dissolved inorganic carbon content of the Southern Ocean. There are still many potential effects of climate change that we do not fully understand, which limits our ability to cope. I used the programming language MATLAB to examine how the Southern Ocean’s ability to take up carbon and transport it to the depths of the ocean changed when more carbon dioxide was added to the atmosphere in the climate models. I gained programming experience using MATLAB and also learned how to work with large matrices of model data. This research experience helped me to make the decision to apply to graduate school for geosciences. 

See Presentation
Project:
Measurement of Methane Leakage from Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells
Organization/Location:
Mauzerall Group, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Denise Mauzerall, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School

Natural gas has been promoted as a cleaner alternative to coal. However, methane leakage from the oil and gas supply chain may undermine this fuel’s relative climate advantages and more studies are needed to evaluate the extent of the problem. This summer, I worked with a research team measuring and analyzing methane leakage from oil and gas wells in West Virginia. This work was done in comparison to past measurement in Pennsylvania. While in the field, my colleagues and I collected methane samples, later analyzing the samples using a gas chromatograph. As an independent project, I collected data on oil and gas infrastructure, including locations of pipelines and pipeline junctions, by walking lines and mapping locations of leaks. I then worked to determine the number of pipeline leaks per unit length of piping in West Virginia and created a visual map of the organization of gathering pipeline (pipeline connecting wellheads to larger transmission piping). I am currently co-writing a paper with my research team using the data we collected this summer. 

See Presentation
Project:
How Stable Are Relationships Between Fishes and Ocean Climate in the California Current?
Organization/Location:
The Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences

This project used recent historical data of fish populations to predict how these populations will react to climate change in the coming decades. It analyzed ~50 years of data taken in the California Pacific using MATLAB and R, using generalized additive models to fit trends to the fishes’ sensitivity to six environmental variables. The bulk of the work was coding and data analysis. I adapted and expanded on a previous intern’s work to analyze a larger number of fish species and attempt to find patterns in characteristics of fish species that increase their vulnerability to changes in ocean conditions. This project inspired me to take a closer look at the biological side of geoscience, especially related to fishery science and oceanography.

See Presentation
Project:
Measurement of Methane Leakage from Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells
Organization/Location:
Mauzerall Group, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Denise Mauzerall, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School

This summer, I interned with the Mauzerall Group measuring methane leakage at abandoned oil and gas wells in West Virginia. This project is a continuation of a previous paper detailing methane emissions at abandoned wells in Pennsylvania to see if the results of one state are scalable to a national measurement, or if it is necessary to approach it from a state-by-state basis. I also worked on a subproject comparing policy in West Virginia and Pennsylvania to see if the differences would manifest in variations in methane emissions. During my time there, I participated in all aspects of fieldwork including searching for the wells, conducting measurements, analyzing samples using gas chromatography, and interacting with the locals. I am majoring in environmental engineering, and this internship was a great taste of academia. Overall, it was a very positive experience for me; I developed meaningful relationships with my mentors and cemented my desire to pursue a career in research. 

See Presentation
Project:
Characterization of Water Soluble Organic Carbon in the Marine Atmosphere
Organization/Location:
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Bermuda
Adviser(s):
Natasha McDonald, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

My project had three essential goals: to quantify the amount of organic carbon in the atmosphere 1 km above the open ocean (called the marine boundary layer), determine what percentage of it is water soluble, and characterize the chemical properties of the water soluble organic carbon as extensively as possible. Understanding the flux of organic carbon between the ocean and atmosphere is important because organic carbon is a significant portion of the carbon stored in the ocean (and thus out of the atmosphere and not contributing to climate change). During the internship, I was responsible for collecting air and rain samples. I became much more comfortable in a research setting and had to frequently use problem solving skills in determining how to achieve useful data and navigate the challenges presented by fieldwork. My internship also familiarized me with many of the most current trends in climate change research. 

Project:
Are Ocean Mesoscale Eddies Hotspots of Carbon Uptake?
Organization/Location:
The Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences

I spent the summer studying the effect that mesoscale eddies have on carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean. Mesoscale eddies are large open-ocean vortexes that pose many challenges in observational science and climate modeling. The Southern (Antarctic) Ocean is an especially important area of study for understanding the Earth’s carbon cycle and response to climate change, as it is a major area for the uptake of carbon and the overturning of ocean layers. By analyzing new data from advanced floats released in the Southern Ocean, along with satellite data of sea-surface heights, I was able to see how the presence of eddies changed the way carbon moved through the oceans. This internship gave me an in-depth look at how new advancements in oceanography allow us to better observe and predict the Earth’s response to climate change and encouraged me to continue studying climate science.

See Presentation
Project:
The Coevolution of Ancient Life and Climate
Organization/Location:
Maloof Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Adam Maloof, Associate Professor, Geosciences

I worked with the Maloof Group researching the relationship between reefs and the paleoenvironment during the Cambrian and Ediacaran periods. I focused on understanding the ecological conditions, structure, and biological relationships of Stromatolite/Thrombolite reefs from the Ediacaran period and Archaeocyath reefs from the Cambrian period. My research in particular involved Cloudina, a hardshelled tubular organism, which may have grown attached to a Stromatolite reef framework and hence have been the earliest metazoan reef builder. I assisted in the reconstruction process of Cloudina using a grinder machine and destructive tomography methods, and statistically described the reconstructed specimens in an effort to comprehend their morphology and growth patterns. Using statistical methods, I was able to determine the presence of at least three different subgroups with different anatomical properties within Cloudina conglomerations. Additionally, I helped constrain Cloudina’s temporal distribution by participating in the radiometric dating of various ash samples that bounded the occurrence of Cloudina fossils in the stratigraphy of the Nama Group in Namibia. My internship helped me develop a feeling for research in geosciences and showed me the power and importance of programming, spatial statistics, and image analysis techniques. 

See Presentation
Project:
The Sensitivity of Ocean Biogeography to Non-Linearities in the Ocean Density Field
Organization/Location:
The Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Jorge Sarmiento, Professor, Geosciences

This summer, I studied ocean circulation dynamics while interning with Princeton’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. The density of seawater is determined by its temperature and salinity content, but this relationship is nonlinear. When two bodies of water of the same density are mixed, they create a new, denser body of water. Analyzing data output from models, I looked into how these nonlinearities in the equation of state affect ocean circulation, the distribution of nutrients in the ocean, and ultimately ocean biogeography. All of these factors have a greater significance beyond oceanography as they can affect Earth’s climate as a whole. Through this experience, I gained a deeper insight into general ocean circulation and became much more familiar with MATLAB. I plan to continue research in this topic for my junior independent project. 

See Presentation
Project:
Measurement of Methane Leakage from Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells
Organization/Location:
Mauzerall Group, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Denise Mauzerall, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School

This research project focused on trying to measure the amount of methane released from abandoned oil and natural gas wells in West Virginia. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and previous research in Pennsylvania has suggested that methane leakages from abandoned oil and natural gas wells could be large contributors to atmospheric methane. Our team went into the field in West Virginia for several weeks to measure these emissions with two different models. My part in this project, along with measurement and analysis, was to create a handheld sensor for detecting the presence of methane leaks, analyze the potential effects of the subsurface and fracking on emissions, and to begin to develop analysis tools to be used for future research. This project has given me great insight into the process of environmental research and publication, and I would like to pursue independent work in a similar field during my time at Princeton.

See Presentation
Project:
Exploring the Siderophores of Wild Azotobacters
Organization/Location:
Morel Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
François Morel, Professor, Geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute

Durring my internship, I studied biological nitrogen fixation. Specifically, I focused on how this process affects the nitrogen stable isotope composition (15N/14N) of biomass. Previous research showed that molybdenum, vanadium, and iron-only variants of the iron-rich metalloenzyme nitrogenase, which is responsible for all biological nitrogen fixation, produce biomass with characteristically different 15N content. To explore the mechanisms underlying 15N changes during nitrogen fixation, I grew mutant strains of the model nitrogen fixer, Azotobacter vinelandii, using Mo- or V-nitrogenase under iron replete to limiting conditions. I found that N2 fixation based on Mo-nitrogenase yielded heavier 15N biomass compared to that based on V-nitrogenase, irrespective of the iron treatment. For growth using each metalloenzyme, I uncovered a correlation between iron availability and 15N content. The results of my work suggest that iron availability, in addition to the type of nitrogenase metalloenzyme, controls the 15N content of nitrogen fixer biomass. This work sparked a growing interest in research, and I am looking forward to continuing my work in the Zhang and Morel labs during my time at Princeton.

Project:
Nitrous Oxide Production in the Ocean
Organization/Location:
Ward Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Bess Ward, Professor, Geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute

In the Ward Lab, our goal was to examine nitrous oxide production and consumption rates in the ocean and how oxygen regulates these rates. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas that causes ozone depletion and alters biodiversity. In the lab, I prepared vials with 3 milliliters of seawater that had tracers such as nitrite, nitrate, and nitrous oxide, and purged standard vials with helium. As we ran these samples on the mass spectrometer, I learned how to interpret the relative peaks and background noise. During the weeks that I used the mass spectrometer to measure nitrous oxide consumption rates, I also prepared for a sampling trip to Chesapeake Bay. My role on the boat out at Chesapeake Bay was to collect water samples being pumped onto the boat. Back at Horn Point Lab in Maryland, I assisted in all aspects of sample preparation. The experience sparked my interest not only in chemistry, but also in geosciences, and helped confirm my decision to pursue this field of study at Princeton. 

Project:
Investigating Biomass and Carbon Sequestration Potential on Abandoned Land in the U.S.
Organization/Location:
Energy Systems Analysis Group, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Eric Larson, Senior Research Engineer, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

This summer, I examined the potential of lignocellulosic biocrops (grasses and trees that can be used to produce ethanol) cultivation on abandoned cropland in the United States and what potential these lands have for additional carbon sequestration. Synthesizing ArcGIS, geographic information systems software, with ALMANAC (a crop yield prediction model that considers climatic and soil data in predicting crop behavior) and soil models that predict soil’s carbon saturation, I developed a strategy for calculating the maximum carbon uptake of a soil, along with crop yield potential. From this experience, I gained a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding climate science and learned how agricultural practices and ecosystem characteristics play a role in regulating atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. This provided me a more holistic image of what sustainable energy practices encompass and inspired an interest in further exploring what resource management and development could do for greenhouse gas reduction strategies. The research I conducted this summer has helped me develop a foundation for my thesis. I now also hope to pursue a career in the energy sector.

Project:
Characteristics of Methane Superemitters in the Marcellus Shale Play
Organization/Location:
Zondlo Group, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Mark Zondlo, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Over the summer, I was given the opportunity to join the Zondlo Group, where I gained valuable research experience. The current project is an extensive field study that seeks to quantify fugitive methane emissions from fracking in the Marcellus Shale. Even though the combustion of natural gas results in less carbon dioxide emissions, methane’s stronger global warming potential can offset the perceived benefits. As natural gas becomes increasingly important to the energy market, methane – the main component of natural gas – will play a more critical role in understanding climate change. In the field, we deployed innovative sensor technologies to measure concentrations of several greenhouse gases (methane, carbon dioxide, and water vapor) at pre-selected fracking sites. Currently, I am working on calculating emission rates from the data we collected using a standard inverse Gaussian plume model. By combining our data with publicly available databases on fracking sites, we can begin to understand the distribution of emission rates, the variability, and economic implications.

See Presentation
Project:
Gas Release of the Columbia River Flood Basalts for Calibration with Palaeoclimate
Organization/Location:
Schoene Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ and Pacific Northwest
Adviser(s):
Blair Schoene, Associate Professor, Geosciences

The goal of my project was to assess the link between the Columbia River Flood Basalts and the mid-Miocene Climate Optimum. The latter, the warmest Earth has been in the last 35 million years, is thought to have been caused by the eruption of huge volumes of volcanic material in the Pacific Northwest. However, nobody has yet shown that the volatiles (CO2, SO2, H2O, etc.) released by this eruption were enough to create the amount of global warming that climate records show. By collecting samples from this area and analyzing them in the lab, I am working to quantify the composition and volume of gas released by these basalts and assess their likelihood of being the cause of this heightened global temperature. Finally, the comparable nature of the mid-Miocene climate and the climate today (400ppm CO2, similar mean temperature) will provide insights into volatile flux and climate records that can be used as testing data for modern climate models; improving the accuracy of our climate predictions.

See Presentation
Project:
Nitrogen Acquisition by Marine Phytoplankton
Organization/Location:
Ward Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Bess Ward, Professor, Geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute

This summer, I interned with the Ward Lab in the Geosciences Department. The research I conducted examined PCR optimization and DNA sequences of marine phytoplankton. Through this work, we hope to add to current phytoplankton enzyme sequence databases. Photosynthetic phytoplankton productivity is often controlled by nitrogen availability and most of the important phytoplankton in the ocean are not represented in the genetic databases. I grew eight different species of phytoplankton in culture after making my own media. In order to track the growth rates of the phytoplankton, I learned how to use a fluorometer and a microscope. Once the phytoplankton were grown, I performed DNA extractions and then amplified the DNA using PCR. During this project, I learned useful technical skills, like how to operate different pieces of lab equipment, how to use statistical software, and how to abide by general laboratory procedures. This summer allowed me to gain significant experience in the research sciences and has definitely informed my academic path.

Project:
Studies of the Ancient Organic Matter Trapped in Fossil Shark Teeth
Organization/Location:
Sigman Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Daniel Sigman, Professor, Geosciences

In my internship, I worked with Emma Kast, a graduate student in geosciences, to analyze the organic matter trapped in both fossil and modern shark teeth. This research provides important insights into how nitrogen cycles in the ocean and how it varies in time and location. My job was to take whole teeth and even whole jaws and break them down into powder, clean them by using various chemicals, and then weigh them into test tubes for analysis using mass spectrometry. I learned many skills useful for work in the lab, which will help me a lot in the upcoming years as I work on my junior project and senior thesis. This experience definitely helped shape my academic career. For my junior project, I will be working on a related study measuring the organic matter from collagen in cow teeth.

See Presentation
Project:
Role of Minerals on the Sorption and Cycling of Organic Carbon in the Environment
Organization/Location:
Myneni Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Satish Myneni, Professor, Geosciences

This summer I performed research on the characteristics of and interactions between organic matter (OM) and minerals in soil systems, with the long-term aim of understanding how OM is cycled and stabilized. With the need for comprehensive and accurate modeling of climate change, a proper representation of our largest carbon reservoir, the soil, is of extreme importance. The project investigates this from both the field and the lab. We collected soil cores as well as dissolved OM that we reacted with model minerals to observe what types of OM forms associations with the mineral surfaces. I worked primarily with an infrared spectrometer particularly suited to probing the microscopic surface assemblages, but we hope that this research will be continued using diverse methods of analytical chemistry. While I won’t be continuing this research myself for my independent work, the experience has given me respect for the complexities inherent in the field, the difficulty of paradigm shifts in scientific understanding, and the effort required to improve macro-scale climate models that rely on micro-scale environmental processes.

See Presentation

Energy

Project:
Clean Small Fusion Reactors
Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Samuel A. Cohen, Director, Program in Plasma Science and Technology

The goal of our project was to develop a method for separating the fusion products – species that can be used as fuel, radioactive and destructive tritium, and essentially rubbish – so that each can be handled correctly. First, we looked at using magnetic and electric fields in order to separate the energetic from the cool components, but found that because of our plasma’s incredibly high density, this would not be feasible. Then, we researched exploiting material properties such as reflection, sputtering threshold, and permeability to separate the exhaust stream by sending it into the right type of wall. Finally, we looked into separation of the fast fusion products via refrigeration and did a corresponding cost analysis to check whether it would be economically viable. Our end result was a paper outlining the potential methods for separation to be used as the basis for a grant proposal to further research the exact mechanism. 

See Presentation
Project:
Clean Energy Intern
Organization/Location:
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), New York, NY
Adviser(s):
Rory Christian, Environmental Defense Fund

As a research intern for the New York Clean Energy program, I analyzed current policy initiatives in New York State. In particular, I studied the treatment of grid modernization technologies and renewable generation in the Renewing the Energy Vision. My primary contribution to the team was authoring a paper on using distribution-scale voltage optimization strategies to reduce emissions. I was also responsible for analyzing and summarizing utility-submitted transition plans for adapting to a shifting energy future involving intermittent renewables, “smart grid” technologies, and increased customer engagement. I also analyzed mechanisms for including the social cost of carbon in the market-based wholesale electricity rate. I really hope to apply the skills I learned in the economic analysis of particular approaches to reducing emissions from energy generation. The balanced approach of the Environmental Defense Fund helped me learn the many complicated facets of environmental issues.

Project:
Wind and Solar Integration in Brazil
Organization/Location:
CASTLE Labs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Warren Powell, Professor, Operations Research and Financial Engineering

My project focused on how to optimally organize a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) to fulfill customer requests for trips in the state of New Jersey. I wrote a computer program that simulates a day of operation: customers calling in, cars accepting and completing trips, cars recharging, profit earned, etc. Imbedded in the simulator is a policy that decides what cars should do. Throughout the summer, I tested and compared different policies using the profit earned by each policy. Besides gaining a lot more experience writing code from scratch, I learned about how to use a policy called Value Function Approximation and how to use Dynamic Programming to estimate the value functions. In addition, my colleagues exposed me to a variety of similar resource allocation problems through their research projects. While my research is not complete, I will be continuing work on this project as my senior thesis.

See Presentation
Project:
Clean Small Fusion Reactors
Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Samuel A. Cohen, Director, Program in Plasma Science and Technology

My summer internship involved research that supported the Princeton Field Reverse Configuration (PFRC) experiment. Specifically, I was running single particle simulations using code developed by Alan Glasser. Using the particle simulation data, we experimented with different techniques to find patterns in the chaotic data. The first technique, which was the key to all other analysis, was step detection. This algorithm found points of stability in a key variable of the particle, called the adiabatic invariant. Next, we performed statistical analysis to find in which level the adiabatic invariant would spend the most time. We then analyzed the percent jumps and delta jumps to find how large the jumps are on average. Finally, we applied symbolic logic to look for patterns in how jumps occur. Overall, while we did not find a physical explanation for the behavior, we found many interesting patterns in the data.

Project:
Lithium Vapor Box Divertor
Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Robert Goldston, Professor, Astrophysical Sciences

This summer, I interned with the research team at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab in Plainsboro, NJ. My project focused on a proposed solution to one of the most difficult problems that still faces fusion reactors: heat dissipation. In the new concept, a chamber filled with lithium vapor extracts the heat of an incoming jet of plasma, while the geometry of the box prevents matter from escaping back into the body of the reactor. This involves a complicated geometry and little-understood physics, so my group proposed a mock-up experiment using water vapor at more human-friendly temperatures, sizes, and costs. Simultaneously, we employed a computational fluid dynamics code called OpenFOAM to analyze the rarefied particle flows. Our goal was to understand the software and compare it to the water vapor experiment, so that we could verify OpenFOAM’s results and use it for the more complex lithium system. This summer gave me a great insight into this important problem for sustainable energy, while exposing me to the lifestyle of graduate school and a career in research.

See Presentation
Project:
Tuning the Threshold Voltage in Organic Field-Effect Transistors by Solvent-Vapor Annealing
Organization/Location:
Organic and Polymer Electronics Laboratory, SEAS, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Lynn Loo, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

In this internship, I investigated the effect of different solvent-vapors on the electronic characteristics of organic thin-film transistors. Transistors are analogous to electrical switches, and they are used in a wide variety of electronic devices, such as computers and phones. Today’s transistors are made out of inorganic materials, like metals, that are very brittle and have a negative environmental impact when disposed of. I was researching whether transistors made out of organic compounds, which have a lower environmental impact, could perform at the same level as the inorganic transistors. I was able to demonstrate some interesting properties of the organic transistors, including how the electrical properties of the organic transistors can be changed just by exposure to a solvent-vapor. Organic transistors can also be embedded into flexible material, like clothing or plastic, in order to create a flexible electronic device. If the organic transistors are shown to have a similar/better performance when compared to inorganic transistors, then these organic transistors can replace the inorganic ones in current electronic devices and can also be used in up-and-coming technologies, such as solar panels.

See Presentation
Project:
Clean Small Fusion Reactors
Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Nathaniel Fisch, Professor, Astrophysical Sciences

My internship at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) this summer gave me a window into computational physics research and its application to nuclear waste disposal and nuclear fusion. I constructed a particle pusher in MATLAB to investigate the wave-particle interactions within models of the Magnetic Centrifugal Mass Filter (MCMF). This filter is a prime candidate for improving separation of nuclear waste as it allows for high throughput of material and is also proliferation resistant. These properties allow it to be both safe and efficient. The model I created allowed me to investigate interesting phenomena arising from the fact that the filter uses rotating plasmas to separate waste. This model will also be helpful for gaining new insights into rotating plasmas more generally, which have applications in nuclear fusion and other plasma devices. The next stages of the project involve the implementation of particle collisions and turbulence within the particle pusher to increase its accuracy and applicability to the MCMF. I am very grateful for this opportunity, and I come out of it with a new set of skills in plasma physics, academic research, and the development of new technologies.

See Presentation
Project:
Developing the Electrochromic Layer for Solar-Powered Smart Windows
Organization/Location:
Loo Group, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Lynn Loo, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

This summer, I interned with the Loo Group in the Organic and Polymer Electronics Laboratory, where I researched electrochromic device fabrication for use in solar-powered smart windows. Because electrochromic materials have optical properties that can be tuned by the application of small external voltages, these windows would provide tremendous savings in lighting and cooling costs compared to traditional windows. As an intern, I used existing literature and previous experimental data, in addition to independent laboratory experimentation and data analysis, to optimize an electrochromic layer composed of a gel electrolyte and conducting polymer electrodes. This can then be integrated with a photovoltaic layer for a complete device. Through this internship, I was able to develop laboratory skills, collaborate with other researchers, and practice formally presenting my work in an environment that supported independent thinking and hands-on engagement. 

Project:
China Coal Cap Project; Demand Side Management Project
Organization/Location:
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Beijing, China
Adviser(s):
Alvin Lin, Natural Resources Defense Council

The overall goal of my internship at NRDC in Beijing this summer was to engage in the work of the Climate and Energy team and specifically to support the ongoing work under the China Coal Cap Policy Research Project. In addition to sitting in on meetings and conferences, I helped translate several environmental policy reports from Chinese to English and supported my colleagues in policy research. I also created infographics for the NRDC website, highlighting the developments in the Coal Cap Program. As a result of my time at NRDC this summer, I was exposed to some of the civil society actors at the forefront of environmental change in China. My internship renewed my interest in social change work and also sparked my interest in green startups in China. I am looking to focus my future independent work on social sector development in China, particularly the role of civil society and private actors.

Project:
Improving Yeast Biofuel Production by Nanobody Regulation
Organization/Location:
Avalos Group, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
José Avalos, Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

This summer, I worked with Professor José Avalos’ lab group to characterize a light-inducible strain of yeast that I made during my junior independent work project. This strain of yeast, YEZ 61-23, was genetically engineered to either produce fluorescent protein when we shone light on it, or to change its growth rate depending on the amount of light it received. I was able to characterize the dependence of growth rate on the intensity and duty cycle of light received. The work involved PCR to produce genetic constructs and to characterize the genome of our synthetic strains; taking regular growth measurements via spectrophotometer to measure the growth rate; and constructing a light setup to measure the growth of the yeast. During this internship, I developed my ability to design, record, and analyze experimental data and to independently direct the course of my research.

Project:
A Web-Based Interactive Wind Electricity Forecasting Tool
Organization/Location:
Climate Central, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Eric Larson, Senior Research Engineer, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

I had the opportunity to work at Climate Central where I developed a software tool for predicting wind energy generation on a daily basis. Climate Central is a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about climate change, and the tool I designed fits into this mission by providing a dynamic view of how local wind generation initiatives can reduce the anthropogenic contribution to climate change. I had a great deal of independence in creating the tool, making all of the judgment calls on which data sources and algorithms to use. At the same time, working at Climate Central allowed me to learn from the professionals all around me and have access to resources I might not have even considered searching for on my own. I also polished my communication skills as I kept my supervisors apprised of my progress and got their input on additional features they wanted to include. This internship gave me a taste of real-world collaboration – valuable experiences relevant to nearly any career path I might follow.

Project:
Investigating Impactful Graphic Design of Interactive Renewable Energy Data
Organization/Location:
Office of Sustainability, MO and WY
Adviser(s):
Kevin Amende, Montana State University

I worked with students at Montana State University and Yellowstone National Park employees to design an online energy dashboard for the Lamar Buffalo Ranch. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch is a historic area that aims to be completely free of fossil fuel use through renewable energy generation and building improvements. To help educate the public on the initiative, I designed an interface that displays the energy data in a clear and compelling way. Though my focus was on graphics and front-end design, I was able to learn about and help with other areas of the project as well, including hardware and network troubleshooting, and database management. I learned a lot about how different organizations collaborate on projects, from universities and the National Park Service to companies like Toyota. My exposure to different organizations really helped me discover which work environments and work cultures are best for me. Also, I learned about the various skill sets that are useful for real-world projects. Now, as I plan for future personal projects and internships, I have a much better idea of what can be accomplished by small groups of dedicated people.

Project:
Chemically Tailored Hematite (Fe203) Photoelectrocatalysts for Solar Water Splitting
Organization/Location:
Koel Group, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Bruce Koel, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Hematite is an iron oxide material that is being investigated as a photoelectrocatalyst (material to increase reaction rate) in water splitting under light. Water splitting is important because it produces hydrogen gas, which can be used in some contexts as an alternative to fossil fuels. The goal of this project was to investigate the basic properties of hematite and lay the foundation for further research. This summer, I helped design a system to investigate in-situ water splitting under solar simulated light via FTIR, a common spectroscopy instrument. Ordinarily one cannot shine light on a sample or saturate it with water; however, in our lab’s design we were able to accomplish both. I also ran various samples of hematite under FTIR and Raman spectroscopy. Through this internship, I learned how to complete a design process from beginning to end, as well as how to run spectroscopy samples and analyze/ interpret the resultant data. The research gave me a much better idea of how to apply my knowledge from classes to real problems in engineering and also gave me insight into graduate school labwork.

See Presentation
Project:
Electrical Engineering for Community Sustainable Energy Commercial Project
Organization/Location:
Lightening Energy, Dover, NJ
Adviser(s):
Eric Materniak, Lightening Energy

Lightening Energy is a small contractor company for the U.S. Army. They specialize in making rapid charging batteries that charge in minutes instead of hours. I worked on prototyping an application of this battery. My partner and I built a robot that can navigate a rectangular grid by itself. All the user has to do is give the coordinates of where he/she wants the robot to be via bluetooth, and the robot will be able to navigate itself to the coordinates. The robot was also able to return to the charging station and charge its battery without any human instruction. This technology can be used as an autonomous warehouse forklift. Currently it takes about half an hour and several operators to replace a forklift battery and several hours for the battery to charge. Through this internship, I learned a lot about microprocessors, C programming, control theory, and batteries. My summer experience has made me interested in prototyping systems and working with more hardware in the future.

Project:
Synthetic Biology: Inducible Circuits for Biofuel Production
Organization/Location:
Avalos Group, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
José Avalos, Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

This summer, I interned in the Avalos Laboratory. The mission of the lab is, broadly speaking, to develop sustainable solutions to environmental challenges through synthetic biology. Specifically, microbial chemical production, which can optimize metabolic pathways and is therefore a promising key for the production of new forms of biofuel energy. I learned biological lab techniques as well as methods to design and test the plasmids and genetic circuits I helped create. My project involved genetic and metabolic manipulation and optimization of the yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The two main goals of my summer internship were: to optimize genetic circuits using light inducible promoters and to measure the efficiency of those circuits visually using the fluorescent reporter protein GFP. We also quantified our circuits’ output of the higher-chain biofuel isobutanol, which was our main desired product. Importantly, we found higher concentrations of isobutanol than ethanol, the yeast’s natural product. I plan to continue the optimization process during the school year by introducing new genetic changes. I found the research exciting because it addresses the real need for alternative energy sources.

Project:
Investigation of Photoactive Layer Architecture in Organic Solar Cells
Organization/Location:
Organic and Polymer Electronics Laboratory, SEAS, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Lynn Loo, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Over the summer, I conducted research related to organic semiconducting electronic devices such as organic solar cells (OSC) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLED). These are being extensively studied as alternatives to their inorganic counterparts due to desirable properties such as suitability for flexible applications and high-throughput production. However, the use of stacked material layers in these devices can lead to structural instabilities that have yet to be fully characterized. For this project, I developed a methodology based on an optical technique (spectroscopic ellipsometry) to quantitatively investigate structural changes to samples heated at various temperatures. I enjoyed being responsible for the entire process, from preparation and fabrication of the stacked thin films, to testing and optical analysis. I was also able to discuss my progress with an insightful advising professor and seek advice from graduate students and other engineers. It was a rewarding experience that has given me a sense of what life is like in the academic community as a researcher.

See Presentation
Project:
Electrical Engineering for Community Sustainable Energy Commercial Project
Organization/Location:
Lightening Energy, Dover, NJ
Adviser(s):
Eric Materniak, Lightening Energy

The goals of my internship were to further design, research, and develop Lightening Energy’s lithium-ion battery technologies. My specific focus was implementation of a temperature regulation system. As a mechanical engineer, I concentrated on designing and running simulations using computer aided design (CAD) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), as well as building and testing the prototype. From this internship, I gained a deeper understanding of the performance expectations of a mechanical engineer and developed my analytical and software skills. In particular, I learned some of the nuances of running CFD studies and battery performance optimization. While I’m still developing the topic for my senior thesis, I know that I plan to incorporate CAD and CFD to help with the potential design and analytical aspects.

Project:
Clean Power Pathways: Researching the Impacts of the Clean Power Plan
Organization/Location:
Georgia Tech Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
Adviser(s):
Marilyn Brown, Georgia Institute of Technology

This summer, I engaged in qualitative research on the effects of the Clean Power Plan on the U.S. domestic energy landscape. I conducted this research under Dr. Marilyn Brown, Professor of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. I supported her research efforts by synthesizing results from recent runs of Georgia Tech’s National Energy Modeling System, a powerful tool currently being employed to predict the impacts of the Clean Power Plan on various aspects of the energy landscape. Specifically, I put findings on residential and commercial energy use impacts into context by referencing relevant literature. The internship culminated in an extensive literature review on the potential for emissions leakage from implementation of the Clean Power Plan. I learned much about the U.S. energy industry, as well as becoming knowledgeable on the Clean Power Plan. I also honed my skills to collect, synthesize, and convey complex qualitative and quantitative material. These lessons and skills will not only carry through my remaining two years at Princeton, but into whatever work I do beyond.

See Presentation
Project:
Electrical Engineering for Community Sustainable Energy Commercial Project
Organization/Location:
Lightening Energy, Dover, NJ
Adviser(s):
Eric Materniak, Lightening Energy

I spent the summer as an intern at Lightening Energy. Coming into the internship, I was not sure what to expect, but hoped that my experience would give me a better idea of what it would be like to work in industry as an electrical engineer. At Lightening, I worked on a prototype robot with some basic autonomous features including line following and object avoidance. The robot was controlled by a microcontroller that we programmed and was connected to a variety of sensors and outputs such as ultrasonic distance sensors, bluetooth communication, indicator LEDs, and an LCD display screen. Besides this main project, I also spent time helping out with other projects focused on mechanical engineering. Overall, my experience at Lightening allowed me to explore the idea of working in industry and will help me make a more informed decision about what I want to do after graduation.

Project:
Reducing Emissions Using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy
Organization/Location:
Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, WA
Adviser(s):
Nathan Price, Institute for Systems Biology

The goal of my summer at the Institue for Systems Biology was to develop computational designs of a bacteria that could convert methane to methanol, a biofuel. Such a bacteria would provide a simple to use and sustainable biological source capable of producing liquid fuel, vital for transportation. My work involved manipulating a model of the bacterium and examining how its metabolism could be altered to produce the biofuel. By the end of the summer, I had several potential designs that could feasibly produce methanol. The internship was a wonderful introduction to the area of computational biology. Through it, I am more certain that I want to become a scientist. This fall for my senior thesis, I will continue to work on metabolism. In the future, I hope to earn a M.D./Ph.D. and pursue biomedical research. 

See Presentation
Project:
Electrochemical CO2 Reduction
Organization/Location:
Bocarsly Group, Chemistry Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Andrew Bocarsly, Professor, Chemistry

Photocatalytic water splitting allows solar energy to be stored as hydrogen gas, providing a promising alternative to fossil fuels. However, the materials used as electrodes in this process can still be improved in many areas, including stability. Prior research in the Bocarsly Group has suggested that one such photoelectrode material, AgRhO2, offers improved stability when compared with CuRhO2, despite the two materials’ similar composition and structure. This summer, I used computational models to study this difference in stability, in hopes that understanding the origin of this difference would allow more stable photoelectrodes to be developed. Having the opportunity to do this research has helped shape my plans for the remainder of my undergraduate career – I plan to continue this work for my senior thesis – and inspired my future research goals.

See Presentation
Project:
Clean Small Fusion Reactors
Organization/Location:
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Samuel A. Cohen, Director, Program in Plasma Science and Technology

The overall goal of our project was to separate out the fusion products: tritium, Helium 3, and Helium 4 and deuterium by species. From an environmental perspective, the extraction of tritium is crucial as it is highly radioactive. We analyzed three different methods for this separation, plasma methods, surface and volumetric effects, and liquefaction methods. Most of the research we conducted was theoretical research, i.e. reading articles and performing preliminary calculations based on accessible data. Other duties included surface science experiments and running TRIM and SRIM computer simulations to test the validity of our theoretical predictions. I gained experience collaborating with a research partner, using data from other interns’ related projects to perform calculations, and reading scientific journals. Through the internship, I discovered how my chosen major, chemical and biological engineering, is applicable to many different fields, such as plasma physics. As a result, I plan to broaden the scope of my classes over the next two years.

Project:
Wind and Solar Integration in Brazil
Organization/Location:
CASTLE Labs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Warren Powell, Professor, Operations Research and Financial Engineering

This past summer, I did research to find the optimal way to integrate energy from the grid and solar energy for use in daily appliances such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). To do so, I used backwards dynamic programming, a method that steps through every combination of a state and evaluates it. I also used linear regression in MATLAB to predict the best decision to make given certain input. This input included current solar levels, possible solar shifts in the next five minutes, current temperature of the room, current energy prices, and possible future energy prices. If perfected, this model will help to decrease stress on the grid and make our world more efficient when it comes to energy consumption. By working through this problem, I greatly increased my aptitude with MATLAB and learned about optimal learning and stochastic optimization. The lab was an amazing environment in which to learn and implement new ideas and methods. After this experience, I might look into something similar for a senior thesis in the coming year.

Health

Project:
Identifying Novel Regulators of T-cell Differentiation in MRSA and Influenza Infections
Organization/Location:
National Institute of Health (NIH), Washington D.C.
Adviser(s):
Warren Leonard, National Institute of Health

Over the summer, I interned in Dr. Warren Leonard’s molecular immunology lab. My main project involved the study of differences in T-cell differentiation given the presence of a transcription factor that induce multiple sclerosis. For this project, I isolated and differentiated CD4+ T-cells from primary tissue derived from both wild type and knockdown mice. We then observed the differences in the percentages of naïve CD4+ T-cells that had successfully differentiated into two T-cell lineages using fluorescence labeling and flow cytometry. This research contributes not only to our understanding of multiple sclerosis, but also how T-cells function on a more fundamental level. These insights are applicable to other disease conditions as well. During this project, I walked through a portion of the scientific process, particularly the steps of coming up with an investigatable question and trouble-shooting the protocol – skills which will undoubtedly give me tremendous help in my future research projects. 

Project:
Bacterial Siderophore Production: When, Where, and Why?
Organization/Location:
Morel Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
François Morel, Professor, Geosciences

The nature of siderophores, molecules with a high affinity for iron released by many bacteria, is of particular interest to the Morel Group. In order to study siderophores, a defined medium where metal concentrations (especially iron) are controlled to reduce background metal contamination is necessary. I spent this past summer researching, experimentally designing, and refining an ideal cell culture medium to grow V. harveyi (a major tropical water pathogen and model organism) so that trace metal studies could be performed. To accomplish this, I explored V. harveyi’s genomic data regarding amino acid biosynthesis, measured V. harveyi’s experimental responses to different nitrogen sources, and synthesized experimental data about the ideal combinations of amino acids within the medium to obtain a comparable growth rate and yield relative to undefined commercial media. This internship has had a lasting impact on me as I plan to continue researching with the Department of Geosciences in order to refine my methods and the medium throughout my junior year, so that other researchers and I can continue to experimentally explore questions related to trace metals and bacteria using V. harveyi.

See Presentation
Project:
Predicting Elemental Toxicity Based on Perturbations to Natural Concentrations
Organization/Location:
Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Sarah Jane White, Visiting Associate Research Scholar, Geosciences

The environmental behaviors and human health impacts of several elements are unknown. Yet increasingly, these elements are showing up in emerging technologies. The major goal of my internship was to investigate how the toxicity of an element (represented by permissible levels in drinking water) is related to the natural concentration of that element (represented by average concentration in world streams). R.M Garrels also investigated this relationship in 1975; Garrels showed that there is a strong correlation between the natural concentration of an element and its toxicity, and during my internship, I was able to update his plot. I also further investigated this relationship and began to explore if it exists in other medias, such as the atmosphere. Furthermore, I examined how the EPA regulates contaminants in drinking water. This experience helped me practice the patience and concentration necessary for literature-based research and furthered my interest in a career in healthcare.

See Presentation

Water

Project:
Potable Water System - Muchebe and Komosoko, Kenya
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Princeton University Engineers Without Borders Kenya team is beginning their fourth year working with communities in the Kuria West district, in the southwestern region of Kenya. The team’s mission is to provide sources of readily accessible, potable water to their partner communities. Over the duration of the program, we have designed and implemented three rainwater catchment systems—two in the village of Muchebe and one in the village of Komosoko. The rainwater catchment systems direct rainfall onto the roof of community buildings through a filtration system and into storage tanks, where it is readily available to local people. The rainwater catchment systems that have been implemented by the Kenya team provide 187,500 liters of water storage capacity in total. The team has also worked to teach each community about good maintenance and water management practices that will allow them to preserve their current water sources. Each rainwater catchment system is partially purchased by the community, and locals provide much of the construction labor. A committee of locals is responsible for the sustainability of the project, ensuring that they feel a sense of ownership over their systems. 

See Presentation
Project:
Community Water Project - Dominican Republic
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This summer, our travel team spent 17 days in the Dominican Republic carrying out an assessment of our partner community, El Cajuil. The primary activities undertaken included water testing, mapping of the pipeline, and conducting a community wide census. We conducted laboratory biological and home chemical testing throughout the existing water system and found that the only health risk present was fecal coliform. The existing pipeline was mapped with the use of a handheld GPS and a GPS station. With the help of the community, we were able to locate a secondary source, a mountainous spring which could add water to the system, and to map a pipeline from the source to the existing pipeline. Our final task was a community census. We went house to house, conducting a survey regarding household demographics and water use patterns. Through this we were able to determine roughly how much water the community needs, how many people are in the community, and how much growth is to be expected in the coming years. Next year, our team will begin designing multiple additions to the system. 

Project:
Structure and Chemistry of Al-Oxide Nanoparticles
Organization/Location:
Myneni Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Satish Myneni, Professor, Geosciences

Over the summer, I began research on Al-hydroxide crystallization, to understand how different Al-amorphous and nanoparticulate phases react with other soluble species in the environment. This work contributes to a larger-scale project of synthesizing certain Al-hydroxide nanoparticles for use in water purification. Predominantly using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy, I determined the hydroxides formed during Al3+ hydrolysis, and analyzed their rates of transformation from disordered amorphous to crystalline nanoparticles, stability in environmentally relevant conditions in terms of temperature and pH, and structural effects from ligand interaction. I became skilled in obtaining consistent ATR-FTIR spectra and processing the data. Compared to my previous research experiences, I gained more independence, initiative, and confidence in steering my own scientific investigations. The background research I conducted on standard Al-hydroxide spectra will also be published as a review paper. Although I am a neuroscience major, I am grateful for the opportunity to have contributed to an environmentally meaningful project. 

Project:
Potable Water System - Otuzco, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Peru team of Princeton University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders works in the La Libertad region of northern Peru. The team’s first program began in 2005, in the community of Huamanzaña, where they worked on the design and construction of latrines, solar lighting systems, cookstoves, and a water system, in order to address the most pressing needs of this community. From 2010 to 2015, the team built two gravity-fed water pipelines within the upper and lower parts of La Pitajaya. The team established its most recent partnership this past year with the community of Pusunchás, which is comprised of 97 families who lack access to clean drinking water. The team traveled to Pusunchás this summer and conducted a thorough technical assessment, including an analysis of flow rate measurements, water quality testing from several natural springs, and a topographic study of various pipeline routes. The legal aspect of the assessment involved obtaining the permission of landowners to put a pipeline through their property and the Peruvian government and source owner to use the preferred water source. Our financial study included obtaining prices for materials from local hardware stores and discussing labor costs with a trusted mason. 

Project:
Potable Water System - Otuzco, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Peru team of Princeton University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders works in the La Libertad region of northern Peru. The team’s first program began in 2005, in the community of Huamanzaña, where they worked on the design and construction of latrines, solar lighting systems, cookstoves, and a water system, in order to address the most pressing needs of this community. From 2010 to 2015, the team built two gravity-fed water pipelines within the upper and lower parts of La Pitajaya. The team established its most recent partnership this past year with the community of Pusunchás, which is comprised of 97 families who lack access to clean drinking water. The team traveled to Pusunchás this summer and conducted a thorough technical assessment, including an analysis of flow rate measurements, water quality testing from several natural springs, and a topographic study of various pipeline routes. The legal aspect of the assessment involved obtaining the permission of landowners to put a pipeline through their property and the Peruvian government and source owner to use the preferred water source. Our financial study included obtaining prices for materials from local hardware stores and discussing labor costs with a trusted mason. 

Project:
Potable Water System - Otuzco, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Peru team of Princeton University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders works in the La Libertad region of northern Peru. The team’s first program began in 2005, in the community of Huamanzaña, where they worked on the design and construction of latrines, solar lighting systems, cookstoves, and a water system, in order to address the most pressing needs of this community. From 2010 to 2015, the team built two gravity-fed water pipelines within the upper and lower parts of La Pitajaya. The team established its most recent partnership this past year with the community of Pusunchás, which is comprised of 97 families who lack access to clean drinking water. The team traveled to Pusunchás this summer and conducted a thorough technical assessment, including an analysis of flow rate measurements, water quality testing from several natural springs, and a topographic study of various pipeline routes. The legal aspect of the assessment involved obtaining the permission of landowners to put a pipeline through their property and the Peruvian government and source owner to use the preferred water source. Our financial study included obtaining prices for materials from local hardware stores and discussing labor costs with a trusted mason. 

Project:
Community Water Project - Dominican Republic
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This summer, our travel team spent 17 days in the Dominican Republic carrying out an assessment of our partner community, El Cajuil. The primary activities undertaken included water testing, mapping of the pipeline, and conducting a community wide census. We conducted laboratory biological and home chemical testing throughout the existing water system and found that the only health risk present was fecal coliform. The existing pipeline was mapped with the use of a handheld GPS and a GPS station. With the help of the community, we were able to locate a secondary source, a mountainous spring which could add water to the system, and to map a pipeline from the source to the existing pipeline. Our final task was a community census. We went house to house, conducting a survey regarding household demographics and water use patterns. Through this we were able to determine roughly how much water the community needs, how many people are in the community, and how much growth is to be expected in the coming years. Next year, our team will begin designing multiple additions to the system. 

Project:
Potable Water System - Muchebe and Komosoko, Kenya
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Princeton University Engineers Without Borders Kenya team is beginning their fourth year working with communities in the Kuria West district, in the southwestern region of Kenya. The team’s mission is to provide sources of readily accessible, potable water to their partner communities. Over the duration of the program, we have designed and implemented three rainwater catchment systems—two in the village of Muchebe and one in the village of Komosoko. The rainwater catchment systems direct rainfall onto the roof of community buildings through a filtration system and into storage tanks, where it is readily available to local people. The rainwater catchment systems that have been implemented by the Kenya team provide 187,500 liters of water storage capacity in total. The team has also worked to teach each community about good maintenance and water management practices that will allow them to preserve their current water sources. Each rainwater catchment system is partially purchased by the community, and locals provide much of the construction labor. A committee of locals is responsible for the sustainability of the project, ensuring that they feel a sense of ownership over their systems. 

See Presentation
Project:
Potable Water System - Muchebe and Komosoko, Kenya
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Princeton University Engineers Without Borders Kenya team is beginning their fourth year working with communities in the Kuria West district, in the southwestern region of Kenya. The team’s mission is to provide sources of readily accessible, potable water to their partner communities. Over the duration of the program, we have designed and implemented three rainwater catchment systems—two in the village of Muchebe and one in the village of Komosoko. The rainwater catchment systems direct rainfall onto the roof of community buildings through a filtration system and into storage tanks, where it is readily available to local people. The rainwater catchment systems that have been implemented by the Kenya team provide 187,500 liters of water storage capacity in total. The team has also worked to teach each community about good maintenance and water management practices that will allow them to preserve their current water sources. Each rainwater catchment system is partially purchased by the community, and locals provide much of the construction labor. A committee of locals is responsible for the sustainability of the project, ensuring that they feel a sense of ownership over their systems. 

See Presentation
Project:
Potable Water System - Muchebe and Komosoko, Kenya
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Princeton University Engineers Without Borders Kenya team is beginning their fourth year working with communities in the Kuria West district, in the southwestern region of Kenya. The team’s mission is to provide sources of readily accessible, potable water to their partner communities. Over the duration of the program, we have designed and implemented three rainwater catchment systems—two in the village of Muchebe and one in the village of Komosoko. The rainwater catchment systems direct rainfall onto the roof of community buildings through a filtration system and into storage tanks, where it is readily available to local people. The rainwater catchment systems that have been implemented by the Kenya team provide 187,500 liters of water storage capacity in total. The team has also worked to teach each community about good maintenance and water management practices that will allow them to preserve their current water sources. Each rainwater catchment system is partially purchased by the community, and locals provide much of the construction labor. A committee of locals is responsible for the sustainability of the project, ensuring that they feel a sense of ownership over their systems. 

See Presentation
Project:
Potable Water System - Otuzco, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Peru team of Princeton University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders works in the La Libertad region of northern Peru. The team’s first program began in 2005, in the community of Huamanzaña, where they worked on the design and construction of latrines, solar lighting systems, cookstoves, and a water system, in order to address the most pressing needs of this community. From 2010 to 2015, the team built two gravity-fed water pipelines within the upper and lower parts of La Pitajaya. The team established its most recent partnership this past year with the community of Pusunchás, which is comprised of 97 families who lack access to clean drinking water. The team traveled to Pusunchás this summer and conducted a thorough technical assessment, including an analysis of flow rate measurements, water quality testing from several natural springs, and a topographic study of various pipeline routes. The legal aspect of the assessment involved obtaining the permission of landowners to put a pipeline through their property and the Peruvian government and source owner to use the preferred water source. Our financial study included obtaining prices for materials from local hardware stores and discussing labor costs with a trusted mason. 

Project:
Community Water Project - Dominican Republic
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This summer, our travel team spent 17 days in the Dominican Republic carrying out an assessment of our partner community, El Cajuil. The primary activities undertaken included water testing, mapping of the pipeline, and conducting a community wide census. We conducted laboratory biological and home chemical testing throughout the existing water system and found that the only health risk present was fecal coliform. The existing pipeline was mapped with the use of a handheld GPS and a GPS station. With the help of the community, we were able to locate a secondary source, a mountainous spring which could add water to the system, and to map a pipeline from the source to the existing pipeline. Our final task was a community census. We went house to house, conducting a survey regarding household demographics and water use patterns. Through this we were able to determine roughly how much water the community needs, how many people are in the community, and how much growth is to be expected in the coming years. Next year, our team will begin designing multiple additions to the system. 

Project:
Cumulative Environmental Impact of Natural Gas Pipelines on Groundwater Quality
Organization/Location:
Onstott Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Tullis Onstott, Professor, Geosciences

This summer, I worked alongside Professor Tullis Onstott, a geobiologist in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. The goal of our research was to evaluate the potential impact of the PennEast pipeline on groundwater arsenic (As) contamination in Mercer and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Over the course of the summer, I performed literature reviews on current knowledge of As transport, collected sediment samples along the proposed pipeline right-of-way, performed DNA analyses on sediment samples (to identify bacterial communities involved in the cycling of As), and modeled As transport using a reactive transport model. This project exposed me to many new aspects of geology, including geobiological laboratory work and groundwater modeling software. More importantly, this project showed me how classroom knowledge can be directly applied to local environmental problems. This internship helped me realize that I value the ability to work on projects that directly impact the local community, and this will surely impact my choice of career and further studies.

Project:
Potable Water System - Muchebe and Komosoko, Kenya
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Kenya
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Princeton University Engineers Without Borders Kenya team is beginning their fourth year working with communities in the Kuria West district, in the southwestern region of Kenya. The team’s mission is to provide sources of readily accessible, potable water to their partner communities. Over the duration of the program, we have designed and implemented three rainwater catchment systems—two in the village of Muchebe and one in the village of Komosoko. The rainwater catchment systems direct rainfall onto the roof of community buildings through a filtration system and into storage tanks, where it is readily available to local people. The rainwater catchment systems that have been implemented by the Kenya team provide 187,500 liters of water storage capacity in total. The team has also worked to teach each community about good maintenance and water management practices that will allow them to preserve their current water sources. Each rainwater catchment system is partially purchased by the community, and locals provide much of the construction labor. A committee of locals is responsible for the sustainability of the project, ensuring that they feel a sense of ownership over their systems. 

See Presentation
Project:
Potable Water System - Otuzco, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Peru team of Princeton University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders works in the La Libertad region of northern Peru. The team’s first program began in 2005, in the community of Huamanzaña, where they worked on the design and construction of latrines, solar lighting systems, cookstoves, and a water system, in order to address the most pressing needs of this community. From 2010 to 2015, the team built two gravity-fed water pipelines within the upper and lower parts of La Pitajaya. The team established its most recent partnership this past year with the community of Pusunchás, which is comprised of 97 families who lack access to clean drinking water. The team traveled to Pusunchás this summer and conducted a thorough technical assessment, including an analysis of flow rate measurements, water quality testing from several natural springs, and a topographic study of various pipeline routes. The legal aspect of the assessment involved obtaining the permission of landowners to put a pipeline through their property and the Peruvian government and source owner to use the preferred water source. Our financial study included obtaining prices for materials from local hardware stores and discussing labor costs with a trusted mason. 

Project:
Potable Water System - Otuzco, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Peru team of Princeton University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders works in the La Libertad region of northern Peru. The team’s first program began in 2005, in the community of Huamanzaña, where they worked on the design and construction of latrines, solar lighting systems, cookstoves, and a water system, in order to address the most pressing needs of this community. From 2010 to 2015, the team built two gravity-fed water pipelines within the upper and lower parts of La Pitajaya. The team established its most recent partnership this past year with the community of Pusunchás, which is comprised of 97 families who lack access to clean drinking water. The team traveled to Pusunchás this summer and conducted a thorough technical assessment, including an analysis of flow rate measurements, water quality testing from several natural springs, and a topographic study of various pipeline routes. The legal aspect of the assessment involved obtaining the permission of landowners to put a pipeline through their property and the Peruvian government and source owner to use the preferred water source. Our financial study included obtaining prices for materials from local hardware stores and discussing labor costs with a trusted mason. 

Project:
Potable Water System - Otuzco, Peru
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Peru team of Princeton University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders works in the La Libertad region of northern Peru. The team’s first program began in 2005, in the community of Huamanzaña, where they worked on the design and construction of latrines, solar lighting systems, cookstoves, and a water system, in order to address the most pressing needs of this community. From 2010 to 2015, the team built two gravity-fed water pipelines within the upper and lower parts of La Pitajaya. The team established its most recent partnership this past year with the community of Pusunchás, which is comprised of 97 families who lack access to clean drinking water. The team traveled to Pusunchás this summer and conducted a thorough technical assessment, including an analysis of flow rate measurements, water quality testing from several natural springs, and a topographic study of various pipeline routes. The legal aspect of the assessment involved obtaining the permission of landowners to put a pipeline through their property and the Peruvian government and source owner to use the preferred water source. Our financial study included obtaining prices for materials from local hardware stores and discussing labor costs with a trusted mason. 

Project:
Community Water Project - Dominican Republic
Organization/Location:
Engineers Without Borders, Princeton chapter, Dominican Republic
Adviser(s):
Peter Jaffe, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This summer, our travel team spent 17 days in the Dominican Republic carrying out an assessment of our partner community, El Cajuil. The primary activities undertaken included water testing, mapping of the pipeline, and conducting a community wide census. We conducted laboratory biological and home chemical testing throughout the existing water system and found that the only health risk present was fecal coliform. The existing pipeline was mapped with the use of a handheld GPS and a GPS station. With the help of the community, we were able to locate a secondary source, a mountainous spring which could add water to the system, and to map a pipeline from the source to the existing pipeline. Our final task was a community census. We went house to house, conducting a survey regarding household demographics and water use patterns. Through this we were able to determine roughly how much water the community needs, how many people are in the community, and how much growth is to be expected in the coming years. Next year, our team will begin designing multiple additions to the system. 

Project:
Hydrocarbon-Degrading Microorganisms in the Continental Crust: Good or Bad News?
Organization/Location:
Onstott Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Adviser(s):
Tullis Onstott, Professor, Geosciences

The long-term goal of this research project was to construct the genomes for hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms found in fracture fluid samples from mines. Very little is known about these microorganisms that reside far beneath the Earth’s surface. It is possible that they could be used for bioremediation efforts, but they also have the potential to destroy valuable fossil fuel resources. During my internship, I researched microorganisms capable of degrading hydrocarbons. The overwhelming majority of these organisms turned out to be bacteria. With this information, I accumulated a set of reference genomes available on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Then, using parallel and cloud computing, we analyzed sequencing data and how they mapped onto the reference genomes. Using these mappings, we hope to identify key proteins and construct a genome for the bacteria found in the fracture fluids. This internship gave me the opportunity to experience bioinformatics research firsthand and fostered my interest in pursuing research, publishing, and coding in the future.

See Presentation