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Undergrad Tiffany Cheung ’15 shares her 2013 Grand Challenge Experience

Tiffany Cheung on the research cruiseTiffany Cheung ’15, along with GEO postdoc Sarah Fawcett, grad students Dario Marconi and Keiran Swart, collecting research samples during the 2013 internship program.


GEO undergrad Tiffany Cheung ’15 participated in the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) Summer Internship Program of 2013. Her advisor was Albert G. Blanke, Jr., Professor of Geosciences François Morel. Morel is an associate faculty member with PEI and involved heavily with the internship program. Cheung was excited about her participation and agreed to share her experience:

“The goal of my PEI Grand Challenge internship in the Morel Lab was to address and understand the role of ocean acidification on the photosynthetic pathways of phytoplankton. As this is my second year on the project, I chose to narrow my research focus on Rubisco, a crucial enzyme in carbon fixation. Using the model organism, Thalassiosira weissflogii, a tropical diatom, I examined the effects of increasing temperature, light intensity, and diel cycling on Rubisco in this diatom. In addition to performing laboratory studies, I also embarked on a weeklong field excursion with the Sigman Lab at Sargasso Sea, aiding other researchers in field sample collections for future studies. My PEI internship, allowed me to refine my laboratory skills, collaborate with other researchers, and develop my own project interests for my junior paper. My GEO junior paper, advised by François Morel, will examine the role and physiology (e.g. carbon fixation rates, CO2/O2 selectivity) of Rubisco in the model diatom, Thalassiosira weissflogii in response to increasing temperature.”

To conclude internships, students were asked to present their findings to participating advisors, research assistants, and colleagues. As Cheung mentions, this opportunity will give her a head-start in writing future research papers and add clarification in her findings. Geosciences students often participate because of the opportunities that are related to their curriculums of study. It also broadens their fieldwork because of the participation of Graduate Students and Postdocs.

This collaboration between PEI, the PU School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs was launched in 2007. Today over 86 members of faculty, including Geosciences professors, participate. It truly is a Princeton cooperative that brings so many together for a common goal. Students interested in participating in the 2014 Summer Internship Program can attend the Information Session on Jan. 08. The deadline for applications is January 10, 2014. For more information visit: