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Meet PEI and Grand Challenges Past Interns: 2010

Garnet Abrams, 2012, Geosciences

Garnet Abrams

Project:
Washington Stream Geomorphology and the Local Watershed

Organization:
Princeton Environmental Institute

Adviser:
Eileen Zerba

"This summer, I was an intern in Dr. Eileen Zerba’s lab with several other students working on the continued monitoring of Princeton University water quality. Each of us also worked on individual projects which we developed over the course of the internship. We sampled Washington Stream, Elm Stream, and Carnegie Lake. We then ran nutrient analysis on these samples back in the lab. For the third component of this internship, I focused on compiling the geomorphology of Washington Stream based on data gathered through several classes projects from the last few years to use as a pre-restoration baseline." (See presentation.)


Christina Badaracco, 2012, Ecology and Evoutionary Biology

Christina Badracco

Project:
Policy Solutions for Marine Debris

Organization:
Ocean Conservancy

"I spent my time as a PEI intern in the Government Affairs Division of Ocean Conservancy, in Washington, D.C. My primary objective was to perform extensive research into the ecological health impacts of marine debris and the policy currently in place to address the problem. As part of my internship, I wrote a research paper with my findings and suggestions for improvements and additions for future policy. My paper will be used by the Ocean Conservancy for advocating an updated marine debris policy at a symposium in DC this October of 2010. I also spent some of my time helping in other government affairs issues, primarily working on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill." (See presentation.)


Brooks Barron, 2011, Woodrow Wilson School

Barron Brooks

Project:
The Ongoing Push for U.S. Climate Legislation

Organization:
Environmental Defense Fund

Adviser:
Carol Andress

"As an intern for Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) National Climate Campaign, I worked to support the passage of clean energy and climate legislation in the U.S. Congress. I developed eight one-page profiles of small clean energy businesses around the country that are creating jobs and helping people save money on their energy costs. Through discussions with the leaders of these companies, I portrayed how they would grow and benefit from the passage of climate legislation. I also wrote four op-eds calling for action on climate which were submitted by the business leaders to local newspapers. I researched all the bills related to clean energy and/or climate that had been introduced in the 111th Congress and compiled summaries of their provisions, supporters, and status. I also completed miscellaneous research for EDF publications, such as how climate change will impact agriculture in the U.S." (See presentation.)


Sarah Bluher, 2013, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Sarah Bluher

Project:
Mercury in Carnegie Lake

Organization:
Princeton Environmental Institute

Adviser:
Francois Morel

"For my internship, I studied the effect of plankton bloom density on concentrations of mercury in Carnegie Lake, Princeton. Working with a team of students lead by Dr. Eileen Zerba, I collected samples from the lake and brought them back to Professor Francois Morel’s lab in the Department of Geosciences for analysis. In addition to analyzing the levels of mercury and methylmercury in plankton, I also measured mercury in water, sediment, macroinvertebrates, and fish, to get a full profile of mercury cycling in the lake." (See presentation.)


Nicole Businelli, 2013, Chemical Engineering

Engineers without borders

Project:
Huamanzaña, Engineers Without Borders

Project:
Huamanzaña, Engineers Without Borders

"In August 2010, an Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team of five Princeton students traveled to Huamanzaña, a small farming village nestled in the foothills of northern Peru, to perform maintenance work on previously established projects and build community ownership and empowerment. The team has had a working relationship with this town since 2005, and after implementing projects ranging from bathrooms and smokeless stoves to solar electricity and water distribution, the group focused this year on securing the long-term sustainability of these endeavors by developing responsibility within the town and helping community members take ownership of the projects themselves. With this goal in mind, the team initiated the formation of a water committee to oversee maintenance of the water system, taught lessons on the importance of bacteria and hygiene to schoolchildren, and helped repair various aspects of the old projects, from replacing stove chimneys to installing new water piping. Because this trip also represented the last year of EWB’s presence in Huamanzaña, the team visited several other sites around the La Libertad region in search of future potential projects." (See presentation.)


Aaron Cevallos, 2012, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Aaron Cevallos

Project:
Princeton-BIOS Summer Internship Program

Adviser:
Dr. F. Gerald Plumley, BIOS

"I spent my summer as an intern at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) working with Dr. Andreas Andersson. I researched the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs. Specifically, I compared two methods for measuring coral growth rates: the buoyant weighing and alkalinity anomaly methods. For my experiments, I used samples of the coral species Diploria strigosa." (See presentation.)


Chuanjay Jeffrey Chen, 2013, Molecular Biology

Jeffrey Chaunjay

Project:
Investigating the Role of Adaptation to Hypoxia in Sea Urchin Longevity

Organization:
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Bermuda

Adviser:
Francois More

"My internship at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) focused on using a genomics approach to study sea urchin longevity. Aging refers to a progressive decline in physiological function and fertility that ultimately leads to increased mortality risk. The red sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) demonstrates none of these characteristics throughout its long lifespan—up to 200 years. In contrast, the closely related Strongylocentrotus purpuratus lives on average for 50 years, while another sea urchin species, Lytechinus variegatus, lives for only 3-4 years. The longest-lived species displays an age-related increase in expression of a protein called hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1α), which allows animal cells to adapt to low oxygen conditions. HIF-1α also induces a metabolic switch that reduces the production of reactive oxygen species, which is thought to minimize damage to cellular components and ultimately delay or eliminate aging. My job was to confirm this expression pattern on the ribonucleic acid (RNA) level using real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and on the protein level using western blots." (See presentation.)


David Chen, 2013, Politics

David Chen

Project:
Investigating the Role of Adaptation to Hypoxia in Sea Urchin Longevity

Organization:
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Bermuda

Advisers:
Andrea Bodnar and Jeannette Loram

"The Restore America's Estuaries (RAE) Policy Internship approached issues of environmental conservation from a policy making perspective. Specific to coastal and estuarine habitat restoration, the internship sought to improve the connections between environmental responsibility and executive and legislative policies. Specific responsibilities in the internship involved legislative advocacy to pass environmental bills, researching and drafting issue-specific white papers on human health implications of estuarine degradation, fundraising for Gulf Oil Spill funds, and outreach to other environmental partners in nonprofit and government sectors. Most of the projects involved improving the relationship between Restore America's Estuaries and other executive government agencies. RAE's stakeholder status on coastal issues gives it the opportunity to provide expertise about environmental issues to agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Fish and Wildlife Service. This internship was an eye-opening educational experience that provided me valuable insights on the non-scientific aspects of environmental conservation." (See presentation.)


Eleanor Elbert, 2012, Art History

Eleanor Elbert

Project:
Offshore Drilling in Belize

Organization:
Oceana, Belize

Adviser:
Ann McCauley

"I worked with Oceana on their campaign to ban offshore drilling in Belize, a country that is especially invested in the health of its pristine coast, as it supports two of the country’s main sources of income: fisheries and tourism. We researched the environmental effects of offshore drilling on reef and mangrove ecosystems, and led a coalition of non-govermental organizations (NGOs) in Belize that banded together to educate the public and government about the dangers of offshore drilling and call for a ban on offshore drilling." (See presentation.)


Barbara Hendrick, 2012, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Engineers without borders

Project:
Huamanzaña, Engineers Without Borders

Project:
Huamanzaña, Engineers Without Borders

"In August 2010, an Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team of five Princeton students traveled to Huamanzaña, a small farming village nestled in the foothills of northern Peru, to perform maintenance work on previously established projects and build community ownership and empowerment. The team has had a working relationship with this town since 2005, and after implementing projects ranging from bathrooms and smokeless stoves to solar electricity and water distribution, the group focused this year on securing the long-term sustainability of these endeavors by developing responsibility within the town and helping community members take ownership of the projects themselves. With this goal in mind, the team initiated the formation of a water committee to oversee maintenance of the water system, taught lessons on the importance of bacteria and hygiene to schoolchildren, and helped repair various aspects of the old projects, from replacing stove chimneys to installing new water piping. Because this trip also represented the last year of EWB’s presence in Huamanzaña, the team visited several other sites around the La Libertad region in search of future potential projects." (See presentation.)


Jennifer Keeley, 2011, English

Jennifer Keely

Project:
Community Forestry with RECOFTC: Protecting People and Forests

Organization:
RECOFTC - Center for People and Forests, Thailand

Adviser:
Deborah Nord

My summer internship, funded by PEI and facilitated by Princeton in Asia, was a position in the communications department of the International Organization RECOFTC – the Center for People and Forests. The internship lasted eight weeks and was based out of their main office in Bangkok, Thailand. RECOFTC deals primarily with community forestry training and project facilitation. During my time there I was responsible for organizing their photo library, putting together an interactive office calendar, working on launching their new website, and most importantly copy editing several of the reports and articles that came through our office for publication. Most of my time was spent editing the text of publications and finding photos to accompany them. I also spent one week doing field research in Cambodia collecting success stories in three villages in two different provinces in relation to an ongoing community forestry project in the country under the management of RECOFTC. Although RECOFTC operates throughout Southeast Asia, it has remained a fairly small organization, which provided me with many opportunities to see the efforts of my work in our finished products. The success stories I collected and the photos I took in my fieldwork are going to become part of a publication on the project in Cambodia. Overall it was a wonderful experience and an incredible learning opportunity. (See presentation.)


Wendy Lang, 2013, Chemical Engineering

Summer interns

Project:
Princeton in Asia Summer of Service 2010

Organization:
Princeton in Asia, China

Advisers:
Chris Schlegel and Anastasia Vrachnos

"For Princeton in Asia's fifth Summer of Service program, ten Princeton undergraduate students traveled to Hunan province in China this past summer to teach in an English immersion program for college students at Jishou University’s Normal College. The city of Jishou is a small city that has grown tremendously over the years and continues to experience economic, lifestyle, and environmental changes that are similar to many cities across China today. While surveying Jishou and neighboring natural attractions in Hunan, the Princeton teachers incorporated lessons, discussions, and activities concerning the environment in both classroom and extracurricular settings. Within the Summer of Service program, we organized a Princeton-in-Jishou Earth Day, which was a day of promoting environmental awareness during which students shared projects, videos, and presentations they had created throughout the program addressing Jishou’s environmental issues such as water pollution, food and agriculture, waste, conservation, and alternative energy options. Students were also encouraged to develop ideas of their own for raising environmental awareness in their communities, and environmental scholarships were to students who had developed outstanding proposals and initiatives with strong ecological and educational components. We coordinated additional activities to cultivate environmental consciousness and conservation efforts such as an Outdoors Club, which gave Jishou students opportunities to share the natural and man-made surroundings of the city to the Princeton teachers. The exchanges between Princeton and Jishou students and opportunities to develop initiatives to support environmental education and action in Jishou made for a motivating and meaningful summer of service in Asia." (See presentation.)


Kristie Liao, 2013, Economics

Kristie Liao

Project:
Energy Education and Research Intern

Organization:
ISLES, Inc., Trenton, NJ

Adviser:
Julia Taylor

"This summer I worked on energy related initiatives as an intern at Isles, a nonprofit community development and environmnetal organization based in Trenton, New Jersey. I performed research for a pilot program that Isles plans to conduct beginning in the fall of 2010. The pilot program, to be conducted in low-income households over a period of six months, will seek to assess the impact of real-time feedback on household energy consumptions levels using energy monitors. I contributed to this project by reviewing existing literature and studies on the effect of various forms of feedback on energy consumption levels. I developed and presented a multi-stage proposal for the implementation of the pilot program and reviewed possible technologies to be used in this project. It was particularly exciting to work on this project as few pilot programs of this nature have been conducted in low-income households. I was also involved in energy education initiatives. I had the opportunity to teach Trenton students at a summer camp about different types of energy such as renewable versus nonrenewable sources and ways to conserve energy. Finally, I was involved in the preliminary stages of assembling a database of abandoned buildings in Trenton. This work entailed field work in which I reported on the conditions of buildings within the Old Trenton Neighborhood. This internship was a great introduction to the unique energy and housing challenges that the city of Trenton faces." (See presentation.)


Elizabeth O'Grady, 2013, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project:
The Environment and Community Health of Trenton, NJ

Organization:
ISLES, Inc., Trenton, NJ

Adviser:
Lorin Romeo Romay

"As part of the Isles Environment and Community Health team, my main responsibility was to help care for the children's garden and the 9 school gardens Isles has started throughout Trenton. Most of my time was spent establishing the new Tucker Street garden adjacent to Isles' Youthbuild alternative high school. Throughout the summer, it went from a pile of dirt to a thriving garden producing pounds and pounds of vegetables for the community. In the afternoons, I did a variety of different tasks. I spent some time promoting a farmer's market that Isles helped start that brings local produce to inner city residents with little to no other access to fresh produce. Along with another intern, I compiled lesson plans to help teachers incorporate their school gardens into their curriculum. I also helped with environmental education programs for elementary aged children in after school programs and camps." (See presentation.)


Sarah Plummer, 2012, Chemical Engineering

Sarah Plummer

Project:
Strategies for Aquifer Recharge

Organization:
National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics, Trieste, Italy

Adviser:
Daniel Nieto-Yabar

"At the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics in Trieste, Italy, I worked as an intern for the Department of Geophysics. For my main project, I researched methods of aquifer recharge in the Friuli-Venezia Giullia region. Due to changing climates, increaseing agriculture, and an overall decreasing ground water level, aquifer recharge has become a necessity in Northern Italy. My project focused on aquifer levels, composition, and soil chemistry in Torrate, a test area set on the region's resurgence line. Here, seismic, electromagnetic, and geochemical modeling is conducted in order to characterize the aquifer system and determine the best method of aquifer recharge." (See presentation.)


Erin Sherman, 2011, Psychology Major

Erin Sherman

Project:
Our Earth Work and Play

Organization:
Our Earth

Adviser:
John Ullman

"As an intern with OurEarth.org this summer, I joined a dynamic group of other interns to work on a huge variety of projects. In the first few weeks, we all mounted an enormous research project to update the organization's directory of U.S. environmental college and university programs. Later, we split into several teams. I worked on the business team, contacting web development and marketing companies to ask their help with OurEarth's website and, in the last few weeks, brainstorming for OurEarth's business plan. Additionally, I led a team of about ten interns on a somewhat unusual project: the creation of multimedia (i.e., video) for OurEarth.org's application to the Pepsi Refresh grant program, and for general publicity. I never expected to write scripts, shoot film, and record vocals during my internship this summer, but it was a lot of fun - especially our video shoot in Fort Tryon Park in Manhattan, at which my green-haired photo was taken. The video is available at the following url (http://www.refresheverything.com/ourearth)."(See presentation.)


James Smits, 2012, Economics

James Smit

Project:
An Assessment of the Efficiency of Water Trading Markets in the Murray-Darling Basin

Organization:
University of Melbourne, Australia

Adviser:
Snow Barlow

"Under the guidance of Professor Snow Barlow of the Primary Industries and Climate Change Center at the University of Melbourne, I investigated water-trading markets in the Murray Darling-Basin, the major food bowl of Australia. I studied the shortcomings of the current water trading scheme, focusing on the role the market plays in influencing decision making by members of the water trading system. In addition, I conducted research on the role of the government and the consumer in shaping water-trading markets. My findings suggest a reassessment of the role water trading plays in the context of climate change in Australia and elsewhere, and the manner in which a government should consider the implementation of water trading markets. Water trading functions as a risk management tool for water users, allowing ease of entry and exit from the system, especially during a period of extended drought, is a valuable market mechanism. As a tool for controlling water usage and the effects of climate change, water trading has great potential. Although a basic market is present, it lacks the defined structure and consistent rules necessary for the efficient operation of the system. By evaluating current and past practices during my internship, I was able to suggest a more efficient system." (See presentation.)


Hank Song, 2011, Chemistry

Engineers without borders

Project:
Huamanzaña, Engineers Without Borders

"In August 2010, an Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team of five Princeton students traveled to Huamanzaña, a small farming village nestled in the foothills of northern Peru, to perform maintenance work on previously established projects and build community ownership and empowerment. The team has had a working relationship with this town since 2005, and after implementing projects ranging from bathrooms and smokeless stoves to solar electricity and water distribution, the group focused this year on securing the long-term sustainability of these endeavors by developing responsibility within the town and helping community members take ownership of the projects themselves. With this goal in mind, the team initiated the formation of a water committee to oversee maintenance of the water system, taught lessons on the importance of bacteria and hygiene to schoolchildren, and helped repair various aspects of the old projects, from replacing stove chimneys to installing new water piping. Because this trip also represented the last year of EWB’s presence in Huamanzaña, the team visited several other sites around the La Libertad region in search of future potential projects." (See presentation.)


Alice Suh, 2012, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Alice Suh

Project:
Aesthetics and Motivations for Land Preservation

Organization:
D&R Greenway Land Trust

Adviser:
Jim Amon

"As the land stewardship intern at D&R Greenway Land Trust, I worked with the directors of stewardship on various land preserves in central New Jersey to build and preserve flourishing, healthy, native ecological communities. We worked towards this goal through ecological restoration, cultivation and care of native plants, removal of nonnative invasive plant species, trail building and improvement, and the monitoring of properties and conservation easements. I also worked with another intern on an independent project focused on using geocaching as a tool for education and public involvement in the natural world. The project involved the creation of a special trail with informational geocaches to educate hikers about native New Jersey forests." (See presentation.)


Marcus Theus, 2012, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Marcus Theus

Project:
Á La Carbon: Sustainable Dining at Princeton University

Organization:
Dining Services, Princeton University

Adviser:
Stuart Orefice

"As the Sustainability Intern for Princeton Dining Services, I worked with the purchasing department to update the database of the university’s total sustainable food purchases for the 2009-2010 school year—including purchases in the categories of local, organic, fair trade, humane, socially just, and conventional. We then used this data to update the university’s sustainable dining website. In addition, I worked with two other students to develop an IPhone application which will allow students to calculate and track the carbon dioxide equivalence (CO2e) emission of their food choices in residential and retail dining areas. For this project, I researched information about the methods for calculation of CO2e emissions in all stages of food production and learned about the negative impact on the environment of the various greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released at each stage of food production. When finalized, the application will include additional features such as a university map with the GPS locations and hours of operations for the various residential and retail dining facilities, locations of the snack and beverage vending machines around campus, and the ability to display coupons and promotions (paper-free) which will be redeemable in select University dining locations." (See presentation.)


Alana Tornello, 2012, Comparative Literature

Alana Tornello

Project:
Pre-Restoration Assessment of Washington Road Stream and Carnegie Lake

Organization:
Princeton Environmental Intitute

Adviser:
Eileen Zerba

"One of the goals of Princeton University's Sustainability Master Plan is Resource Conservation, which identifies stormwater management and domestic water conservation as primary strategies for improving the University’s environmental stewardship. Within the confines of this plan, Washington Road Stream is currently slated for a restoration in the fall of 2010. This summer, Princeton Environmental Institute underwent the final phase of its assessment of Washington Road Stream and its effect on Carnegie Lake. This summer, I joined a group of interns to participate in the assessment and study of the stream and lake as a continuation of research conducted in the past few summers and during a spring 2010 course (ENV 340: Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Solutions). That research covered four main areas of study: riparian zone health, measurement of harmful nutrients, geomorphology assessment, and data collection (using YSI instrument) concerning changes in water quality. These phases were completed and will be compiled in a master report to be submitted to the University. This assessment will allow the restoration team to address any concerns raised based upon our data and conclusions. This pre-restoration data can also be useful in post-restoration research of Washington Road Stream and the surrounding watershed." (See presentation.)


Hoang Tran, 2012, Woodrow Wilson School

Hoang Tran

Project:
U.S. EPA - Office of Regional Counsel

Organization:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Adviser:
Senem Aslan

"In this internship, I worked with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Regional Counsel. In particular, I assisted both a civil investigator and the Deputy Regional Counsel in researching and drafting reports. In the first half of the summer, I researched a defending company's corporate structure and history, providing information to the Civil Investigator. In the second half, I aided the Deputy Regional Counsel in researching a new method of natural gas drilling; ultimately making a PowerPoint presentation that was presented to top federal attorneys in D.C. The experience taught me much about working in the federal government and in the field of law in general." (See presentation.)


Peter Tzeng, 2011, Woodrow Wilson School


Project:
Does China Care About the Environment?

Organization:
Natural Resources Defense Council, China

China has an infamous environmental record. In 2006 China surpassed the U.S. in carbon dioxide emissions, and in 2009 China surpassed the U.S. in energy consumption. Not to mention, the visibility in the streets of Beijing sometimes doesn't even reach 100 meters. This summer, I interned at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Beijing, China. The focus of my research was threefold: carbon capture and storage, smart growth, and rare earth mining. In particular, I investigated the feasibility of applying fairly standard environmental policies in these three areas to the situation in China. In the process of doing so, I contributed to a Brookings Institution paper, went on a site visit in Inner Mongolia, and conversed with researchers from all over the world. Working at NRDC, the breadth of my learning experience came from my colleagues, and thus extended well beyond these three topics. The main lesson that I took from working at the American NGO was that you can't just take western environmental policies and apply them to China. Things don't work like that. Not only is the political system different, but the entire mindset of the leadership down to the ordinary citizen is different. (See presentation.)


Lily Yu, 2012, English

Lily Yu

Project:
Time-Varying Gravity Models from GRACE Date over NW Australia

Organization:
Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Australia

Adviser:
Paul Tregoning

"Time-varying gravity models of the earth are useful for understanding climate change, providing, among other results, insights on drought and ice-melt processes. For my summer internship, I used the gravity field models developed by GRGS (Groupe de Recherche en Géodesie Spatiale) from GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite data to graph the change in gravity signal over Australia from 2002 to the present in order to investigate a large negative gravity signal over the sparsely populated northwest of Australia. It is the largest gravity signal in Australia, larger even than the ongoing drought in the Murray-Darling Basin, and its causes are poorly understood. Possible geophysical causes include underground aquifer depletion or seismic activity/postglacial rebound. Possible non-geophysical causes include instrument error, analysis error, or contamination of the signal from other processes. Although I was not able to find a definitive cause, I did find that the current hydrological model (GLDAS) and the atmospheric-pressure dealiasing product used by GRGS were unlikely to be significant contributors to the gravity signal." (See presentation.)