Civil and environmental engineering at Princeton is a dynamic and growing department. Its research and teaching address broad questions associated with the built environment, the natural environment, and interactions between the two, with an evolving emphasis on sustainability. Focus areas include structural art, structural design, and building materials; urban environments; water and air quality; climate-change mitigation; and the impacts of climate change on water resources and the hydrologic cycle.
“My two favorite classes have been CEE 307 Field Ecohydrology (which is taught in Kenya, where I spent the spring semester of my junior year) and CEE 305 Environ-mental Fluid Mechanics. My independent work is on turbulence in a sparse plant canopy. I conducted field research in Kenya to begin this project. The summer before my junior year I worked in Botswana with Professor Kelly Caylor’s group (with funding from the University’s Grand Challenges initiative). For that project, I helped study the effects of rainfall and climate on root depth and lateral extent.”
“Being able to work closely with faculty and graduate students on these projects has been invaluable to my academic growth, and this mentoring is one of the most rewarding parts of my education in civil and environmental engineering.”
“My favorite extracurricular activity at Princeton is working with the Student Volunteers Council. I am a project coordinator for one of the tutoring projects. We tutor at Young Scholars Institute in Trenton weekly, and I really enjoy working with the students.”
“I worked with the International Water Management Institute in India after my sophomore year, and this experience piqued my interest in water issues. Junior year, I went to Togo to assess ways to provide safe drinking water to a village of 3,000 people who had neither safe drinking water nor electricity. My senior thesis is on advanced chemical oxidation techniques for treating industrial wastewater.”
“I joined the department because I am excited to think about how the built and the natural environments interact—tall buildings, natural disasters, tall buildings staying standing in the midst of natural disasters. These are cool things to think about.”
“I’m interested in international development and have taken entrepreneur-ship courses with Princeton’s Keller Center. While studying at Ashesi University in Ghana the spring of my sophomore year, I also volunteered at a microfinance institution on the outskirts of the city.”
“All four years I’ve been involved in Princeton Evangelical Fellowship, a Christian group on campus. I’ve also been involved with Outdoor Action all four years, and led freshman trips my sophomore, junior, and senior years. My freshman year I was on varsity track and field; now I play lots of intramural sports with my eating club.”
University of Michigan
Studies geologic carbon sequestration in deep saline formations as a means to mitigate carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Interested in understanding the complex geochemical reactions that will occur after carbon dioxide injection, particularly how these reactions will impact the sealing ability of caprocks. Ellis’s work in this area has been published in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control and Environmental Science and Technology.
Community associate with the Graduate School and the chairperson of the Princeton Energy and Climate Scholars group (part of the University’s Grand Challenges initiative).
“I’ve been home-brewing beer for nearly five years and founded a graduate brewing club on campus in 2007 (Princeton University Brewers).”
“The first part of my research assesses the wind hazard risk to structures at three levels: from structural components (like roof shingles or windows) to entire houses to a community of structures. At each level, I compare how different details affect the risk estimation and how mitigation measures can lower the risk. The second part of my research uses stochastic models to simulate the possible effect of climate change on the risk assessment. My dissertation specifically discusses insurance markets and other financial means to mitigate catastrophic risks.”
Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Fellowship from the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Wu Prize for Excellence.
University of Chicago, Peace Corps, and a research assistantship at Columbia University
“I’m interested in wetland biogeochemistry, and my research focuses on how wetland vegetation mediates the transfer of gases and other volatile compounds between saturated wetland soils and the atmosphere. The research may help to predict behavior of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, in different wetlands, and to design wetlands that minimize methane emissions. Another application is phytoremediation, which is the use of plants to remediate contaminated soils.”
“I’m interested in international development, and one of my reasons for studying engineering in graduate school was to do research in science and technology that can be applied to sustainable development. This became a big interest of mine when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania.” HONORS National Science Foundation Fellowship and a Wu Fellowship.