Skip over navigation
Share this:

Meet Development Grand Challenge Past Interns: 2010

Kathleen Brite, 2013, Politics

Katie Brite

Project:
I Vote Teach

Organization
Kiswahili Department, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Adviser:
Mahiri Mwita, Lecturer in Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

"I interned with WAMATA, an AIDS homecare group; MAISHA, a newly-started microfinance team; and an English language teaching program to focus to the problem of foreign aid and the value of empowering citizens to change their circumstances. Originally, my internship was supposed to detail the public’s opinion of the change from socialism to capitalism, but in the end encompassed much more than political transition. I conducted interviews of many Tanzanians (from woodcarvers to business giants of AIDS prevention movements) about numerous topics including: their educational system; previous political regimes; past political leaders; current leaders; access to food; ; health standards and medical care; urban pollution; ; the role of women; their fears and hopes; and the overarching issue of the aftermath of socialist effects on a society trying to join the economic world in capitalism.I concluded that one can either give a country food, or teach a country to grow it. I vote teach." (See presentation.)


Brittany Cesarini, 2012, Woodrow Wilson School

Brittany Cessarini

Project:
Transforming Society in Tanzania: From Socialist to Capitalist Development

Adviser:
Mahiri Mwita, Lecturer in Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

"Throughout the summer, my internship and research highlighted the inextricable link between an explicitly health-related issue (HIV/AIDS) and development. In partnship with the African Evangelistic Enterprise, I conducted interviews and engaged in fieldwork that allowed me to explore the dynamics of the recent Tanzanian government policy of home-based care for HIV/AIDS victims. I also gained an understanding of how well NGO’s are able to meet the needs of HIV/AIDS victims and their families who are forced to care for them at home." (See presentation.)


Jeremy Chen, 2011, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Jeremy Chen

Project:
Distribution of Carbon in the Kalahari Transect

Organization:
Princeton University

Advisers:
Advisers: Kelly Caylor, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Frances O’Donnell, Graduate Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering

"This project sought to understand the distribution and dynamics of belowground carbon in savannas. We worked on the Kalahari Transect in western Botswana at a series of research sites that span a rainfall gradient. Dry season (summer) field work included three major activities: 1) excavating and mapping the root systems of trees and woody shrubs to determine their mass, geometry, depth and lateral extent; 2) measuring ecosystem-level belowground biomass by sampling root biomass, collecting soil samples, and conducting surveys with a ground penetrating radar; and 3) measuring the response of soil CO2 flux to experimental wetting treatments. Doing this at four sites along a rainfall gradient allowed us to investigate how water availability influences the ecosystem carbon cycle." (See presentation.)


Alison Gocke, 2013, Undecided

Allison Gocke

Project:
Alien Species in South African River Systems

Organization:
Rhodes University

Adviser:
Daniel Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology. Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Director, Program in African Studies. Chair, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

"I assisted with the investigation of alien species invasion in the river systems of South Africa. Particularly, we looked at invasive species of catfish and tilapia that had been introduced into a dammed river system and have spread rapidly throughout the region. The research centered around the Great Fish and Sundays Rivers in South Africa, whose ecosystems have been altered due to damming in the late 1970s and early 1990s. We also investigated the feeding and reproductive cycles of an indigenous fish species that appeared to be surviving the influx of new species, in the hope of identifying beneficial survival characteristics. The research was completed under the guidance of Professor Anthony Booth in the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Sciences at Rhodes, as well as Wilbert Kadye, a Ph.D. student under Professor Booth." (See presentation.)


Diana Lam, 2012, Architecture

Diana Lam

Project:
Marine Conservation on Tanzania

Adviser:
Dan Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology. Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Director, Program in African Studies. Chair, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology."

"In partnership with Frontier, a non profit conservation and development NGO to collect data for a project aimed at mapping aquatic life within the Mafia Island Marine Park on Mafia Island, Tanzania. The majority of the work involved conducting surveys of various species of reef fish, benthic organisms, and coral on the ocean floor. I also collected survey data for the mangrove forests and seagrass beds surrounding the bay. These surveys are one of the first initiatives being taken to collect information regarding the health and viability of the marine life in the Marine Park. The information will be used by local environmental and governmental organizations to educate the Mafia population about ways to effectively coexist with the rich aquatic life in the protected area." (See presentation.)


Kathleen LaRow, 2012, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Kathleen LaRow

Project:
Marine Conservation in Tanzania

Organization:
Frontier

Adviser:
Dan Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology. Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Director, Program in African Studies. Chair, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

"Working for Frontier, a non profit conservation and development NGO, as a research assistant was an amazing experience. Over the summer, I helped to collect data that will be used to examine the effectiveness of the Marine Protected Area. The hope is that placing this area under protection has promoted an increase in biodiversity and abundance of marine populations. To investigate this hypothesis, I conducted underwater marine surveys of the quantity and types of reef fish, coral, and invertebrates on twenty-five meter transects. Along with diving to collect data on marine life, I helped collect date along extensive mangrove transects to examine the extent that local people are utilizing the trees and to provide a baseline for future analysis. From learning about marine ecology and survey techniques to interacting with the local community, I have gained so much through this program." (See presentation.)


Michelle Lau, 2012, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Michelle Lau

Project:
Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture and Biodiversity in South Africa

Organization:
Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Advisers:
Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School. David Wilcove, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School. Lyndon Estes, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Woodrow Wilson School and the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy.

"I spent this summer working closely with a post-doctoral researcher in the Woodrow Wilson School researching the effects of climate change on crop yields and biodiversity in South Africa. This project focused on South Africa because it is an area with a large agricultural sector that is highly vulnerable to climate change. The main objective of the project is to understand how climate change will affect crop yields in the next century, as well as how human responses to climate change will influence South Africa’s biodiversity. My main responsibilities included preparing crop, soil, and weather data to use as inputs for modeling crop yields. I also worked to calibrate a crop modeling program and interpreted the results that the model produced. I am looking forward to and will be continuing this research into the semester." (See presentation.)


Benjamin Levenson, 2013, Undecided

Ben Levenson

Project:
Development Problems in Capitalist Tanzania

Organization:
Princeton University

Adviser:
Mahiri Mwita, Lecturer in Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

"This summer I worked on a research project with Professor Aldin Mutembei revolving around development in Tanzania. We looked at one church called the Full Gospel Bible Fellowship, a born again Christian church, whose members opposed a specific government project to build high-tension power lines because they felt it interfered with their evangelism. Through this research we learned that there is a chasm between the way the government views development and the way the general public viewsdevelopment. The members of this church opposed the high tension power lines because they viewed spreading Christianity as more important than providing power, whereas the government disagreed. Whether this is a product of socialism, lack of education, disillusionment with government intervention, and/or foreign influence, we are not sure, but it is a problem worthy of further exploration with the goal offinding a solution. Mainly through newspaper research, we also investigated several underlying problems that may be leading to the resistance to and failure of various development efforts in the country." (See presentation.)


Eleanor Meegoda, 2012, Woodrow Wilson School

Eleanor Meegoda

Position:
Adapting to Empowerment

Organization:
Center for Community Initiatives, Homeless International, Tanzania

Adviser:
Mahiri Mwita, Lecturer in Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

"Working with the Center for Community Initiatives (CCI), gave me the opportunity to experience different types of development strategies. I had the chance to structure and conduct interviews with slum dwellers on the impacts of participating in a savings and loans group and to learn about their challenges and successes with respect to planning and implementing community development projects. CCI introduced me to the exciting prospects of climate change adaptation. With representatives from the city government and other key NGOs, I helped to plan a forthcoming climate adaptation research project for the Dar es Salaam district. I also saw the innovative settlement where a group of slum dwellers bought land, conducted planning, and are now building houses, markets, schools, and recreation facilities. I interacted not only NGO workers from the non-profit Water AID and other government officials, I also had the opportunity to learn about the life stories of NGO workers from Tanzania and the ways they constantly adapt to the changing needs to best support the growth and empowerment of slum community groups." (See presentation.)


Rodrigo Munoz Rogers, 2012, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Rodrigo Munoz Rogers

Project:
Distribution of Carbon in the Kalahari Transect

Organization:
Princeton University

Advisers:
Kelly Caylor, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Frances O’Donnell, Graduate Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

"This project seeks to understand the distribution and dynamics of belowground carbon in savannas. During my summer internship, I worked on the Kalahari Transect in western Botswana, a series of research sites that span a rainfall gradient. This dry season (summer) field work included three major activities: 1)excavating and mapping the root systems of trees and woody shrubs to determine their mass, geometry, depth and lateral extent; 2)measuring ecosystem-level belowground biomass by sampling root biomass, collecting soil samples, and conducting surveys with a ground penetrating radar; and 3)measuring the response of soil CO2 flux to experimental wetting treatments. Doing this at four sites along a rainfall gradient enabled us to investigate how water availability influences the ecosystem carbon cycle." (See presentation.)


Ruthie Nachmany, 2012, Anthropology

Ruthie Nachmany

Project:
Improving Scientific Communication in the Developing World: International Water Management Institute, India

Organization:
International Water Management Institute, India

Adviser:
Luisa Duarte-Silva

&quotMy project focused on evaluating scientific communication in the developing world. The organization I worked for, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), is headquartered in Sri Lanka, and works in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and Africa. Along with another intern in India, and an intern in Ghana, we created a total of three reports (one India-specific, one Ghana-specific, and one general report) about how IWMI succeeds and fails in communicating its scientific products. In India, we studied the spread of an article, "Agriculture Miracle in Gujarat after 2000" by Drs. Tushaar Shah, Ashok Gulati and others while the student in Ghana studied the "Ghana Dams Dialogue Newsletter." During this eight-week internship, I conducted background research, created a survey, interviewed and created reports with the other interns. Each interview had two components - one discussing the interviewee's use and understanding of the article, and one discussing his/her use of the IWMI website. The interviews took place in Delhi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, and Anand."(See presentation.)


Sarah Stroud, 2012, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project:
The Grevy’s Zebra Project

Adviser:
Dan Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology. Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Director, Program in African Studies. Chair, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

"Under the guidance of Daniel Rubenstein, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, I spent the majority of my internship in Kenya in Wamba, at an Earthwatch research center. During that time I conducted research on the Grevy Zebra which is an endangered species. Fewer than 2500 remain. As part of this research I walked line transects and conducted total counts from a vehicle on the Grevy's Zebra population in the area (animals considered competitors for food were also counted). I was also in charge of entering project data and for maintaining camp equipment." (See presentation.)


Alejandro Zuniga, 2012, Molecular Biology

Alejandro Zuniga

Project:
Alien Species in South African River Systems

Adviser:
Dan Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology. Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Director, Program in African Studies. Chair, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

"I assisted Professor Tony Booth, Head of the Department of Ichthyology at Rhodes University, with three small research projects related to fish populations in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. The first project we completed was to analyze a program for individual fish identification and to create an algorithm to optimize its results, which could then be used to estimate coelacanth population size. The second involved surveying river systems in the area to learn which fish were present and in which stage of life and to compare this data with that collected in the summer. The third project involved analyzing the impact of invasive catfish on invertibrate populations used as food by setting up cages in several different rivers and surveying the changes on a regular basis." (See presentation.)