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Discovery Day 2013

On Friday May 10th, the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) hosted Discovery Day 2013 - a multidisciplinary poster session celebrating undergraduate senior thesis research on a wide variety of environmental issues. Over 80 students from 19 academic departments showcased their work which was mentored by 58 faculty Advisers.

Discovery Day



Discovery Day is a culminating event for students participating in the Program in Environmental Studies and for students receiving field research support from PEI and the Grand Challenges Program. It is an opportunity for students to display and discuss their senior thesis research methodologies and results, to exchange perspectives, and to propose solutions to the world's most pressing environmental challenges. This year, the projects were categorized into several focal themes: environmental policy and practices; climate and energy; earth systems; biodiversity and conservation; environmental history and humanities; and water, disease, and human health.

Below, several students pictured next to their Discovery Day posters reflect on their senior thesis experience.

Rory LoughranRory Loughran, Ryan Mich, and Brian Fishbein, MAE
Adviser: Luigi Martinelli
"A Study in Solar Powered, Continuous Flight"


“We had a lot of fun doing this project. We spent a lot of time designing and fabricating all the parts of this plane. And we really learned a lot about  both the aerospace part of it and how you manage solar and solar energy. It has changed our perspective on how useful this technology could be going forward especially if the efficiency of these solar cells and of the battery technology can be improved," said Loughran. (left)
“I am very proud of what we did here and I know these guys are too,” said Fishbein. (right)


Elizabeth SajewskiElizabeth Sajewski, CEE
Advisers: Bryan Grenfell & Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe

"Typhoid Past and Present: Rain-Driven Seasonality and the Influence of Municipal Water Systems on Disease Dynamics"

It was really cool for me to study this issue as an environmental engineer because it allowed me to link all these engineering principles I’ve been learning with the development of water systems and how those influence the environmental factors like how typhoid is transmitted through rivers. The best part about working on this project with expert from ENV was how interdisciplinary it was. I had two Advisers, one from ecology and evolutionary biology, and one from in engineering so I could combine biology and the epidemiological side of science and research with the more technical engineering factors. It was really interesting.”


Nicholas BurtonNicholas Burton, GEO
Adviser: Tullis Onstott
Temperature-Dependent Methanotrophy in High Arctic Permafrost: Implications for Global Warming


Today at Discovery Day, I am having fun presenting my thesis work as well as learning about other student's theses--it is incredible to see the wide range of topics being studied by all the students within the ENV program and how they all tie together on a much broader scale.





Christian BirkyChristian Birky, POL
Adviser: Ezra Suleiman
"Greening the American Prison System: Taking Inspiration from Successful Programs in Norway and at Home"


“The environment wasn’t the main part of my thesis, but it was my favorite part. Talking about prisons, you don't necessarily think about the environmental impact. I was able to show how prisoner interaction with nature really has a tremendous impact not only by changing their experience in prisons, but also by improving their ability to get back into society with a positive outlook. So for me, to be able to integrate the environmental component with my political research was a lot of fun. I am a politics major, but I’m hoping to study architecture and would love to do research on green prison design. There is such a need.”


Congratulations to the students and a heartfelt appreciation to those who supported these research initiatives!