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PEI Environmental Scholars Program

PEI’s Environmental Scholars Program was established in 2011 with an inaugural gift from Elizabeth A. Smith and Ray E. Newton III ’86 to support advanced undergraduate scholarship in the broad area of environmental studies. The Program is honorific in nature and designed to reward students who have shown exceptional promise in their academic coursework and in select summer research apprenticeships under the guidance of Princeton faculty.

The Environmental Scholars Program enables students to continue research apprenticeships with a member of the Princeton faculty in the summer following their sophomore year and on a continuous basis culminating in field study as an integral component of their junior and senior independent work. It is intended for students who are able to clearly articulate a research agenda within the context of their academic course of study and with reference to previous research immersion experiences.

During the fall semester, students are nominated to submit application materials for admission to the program. Selection is made by committee and admitted students are eligible to receive up to $15,000 to support their research agenda over a 2 year period. Awards are structured to cover costs of a qualified summer research apprenticeship and/or research expenses associated with independent field study connected to curricular junior/senior independent work.

PEI Environmental Scholars: Awarded in 2015

Zoe Sims

Zoe Sims ‘17, Newton Family Scholar

Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Research Topic: Coral Reef Acclimatization to Climate Change: Phenotypic Tradeoffs and Environmental Consequences
Adviser: Stephen Pacala, Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and PEI associated faculty member

Zoe Sims ’17 is researching how human activity influences ecosystem structure and biodiversity. Her fieldwork will characterize chemical and ecological impacts of groundwater discharge on Bermuda's coral reefs. She is studying how the reef responds to elevated groundwater nutrient levels due to dense human population, to improve understanding of the compounding stressors of human inputs, climate change, and ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystem stability. Zoe’s research is co-advised by Princeton’s Steve Pacala and Anne Cohen of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


Adrian Tasistro-Hart

Adrian Tasistro-Hart ‘17, Newton Family Scholar

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Research Topic: Testing Milankovitch Theory with Late Cretaceous Lake Deposits in Bolivia
Adviser: Adam Maloof, associate professor of geosciences and PEI associated faculty member

Adrian Tasistro-Hart ’17 is pursuing a geological field study of cyclic lake deposits in the Potosi Basin, Bolivia. The samples he is collecting date to the late Cretaceous period from 145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago -- a time in which global surface conditions were nearly ice-free and thus resemble conditions our planet is approaching today as a result of anthropogenic forcing. Through better understanding of the ice-free earth of the Cretaceous period, Adrian hopes to inform predictions for future climate change.


Marcus Spiegel

Marcus Spiegel ‘17, Newton Family Scholar

Major: Geosciences
Research Topic: Modeling Agricultural Expansion in Zambia to Predict and Minimize Tradeoffs
Adviser: Kelly Caylor, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Director, Program in Environmental Studies

Marcus Spiegel ‘17 is seeking to understand how demands for increased agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa can be met in the most environmentally, economically, and socially beneficial manner. To pursue this query, Marcus will spend the summer generating a computer model that simulates the effects of different scenarios for increasing arable land under varying ecological and economic cost constraints. His work will take him to Zambia where he will have the opportunity to interview agronomists and other scientists at the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute with benefit for collecting data on crop yields and augmenting his understanding of emerging agricultural practices.


Peter Yi

Paul Yi ‘17, Newton Family Scholar

Major: Geosciences
Research Topic: CProcess Simulations of Tidally Driven Internal Waves over Rough Topography
Adviser: Sonya Legg, Associate Director of Cooperative Institute for Climate Science

Paul Yi '17 aims to improve mathematical models for predicting future climate change by developing a more accurate representation of the ocean’s meridional overturning circulation – a process that plays a significant role in the redistribution of heat from the equator to the polar regions, thus moderating temperatures across the globe and connecting the surface ocean to the deep ocean. For his project, Paul will conduct high resolution numerical simulations of internal waves under the supervision of Professor Sonia Legg in the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.



Past Recipients

Year Recipient Major Adviser(s) Research Topic
2014 Alison Campion ’16 GEO  Adam Maloof  Late Paleozoic Ice Age: Carbon and Oxygen Isotopes in Carbonate Parasequences
2014 Elliot Chang ’16 CEE  Adam Wolf The Use of Alginate and Chitosan to Purify Leaf Distillates of Organic Contaminants 
2013 Rebecca Haynes ’15 EEB  David Wilcove, Andrew Dobson  A Study of Polices and Attitudes Concerning the Conservation of Central American Felines 
2013  Zhaonan Qu ‘15  MA  Robert Goldston  Lithium Cooling in Tokamak Scrape-off Layer