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Grand Challenges News

Siebel Energy Challenge

Princeton Energy and Climate Scholars (PECS) selected seven new graduate student members and seven new faculty board members for the 2012–2013 academic year. The new graduate students are: David (DJ) Bozym (chemical and biological engineering), Carole Dalin (civil and environmental engineering), Spencer Hill (program in atmospheric and oceanic sciences), Tristen Hohman (mechanical and aerospace engineering), Dan Li (civil and environmental engineering), Annette Trierweiler (ecology and evolutionary biology), and Zhong Zheng (mechanical and aerospace engineering). The seven new faculty board members are: Amy Craft (lecturer in public and international affairs,Woodrow Wilson School), Stephan Fueglistaler (assistant professor of geosciences), Adam Maloof (associate professor of geosciences), Denise Mauzerall (professor of civil and environmental engineering and Woodrow Wilson School), Catherine Peters (professor of civil and environmental engineering), Warren Powell (professor of operations research and financial engineering), and Sigurd Wagner (professor of electrical engineering).

A group of eight student PECS members traveled to Rio in June of 2012 to participate in the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. To learn more visit http://www.youtube. com/user/pecsweb?feature=watch. This summer, 49 undergraduate students will embark in faculty-mentored internships and senior thesis projects supported through the Siebel Energy Challenge program.

Development Challenge

Almost 60% of Africa’s people live directly off the land. Most development projects focus on increasing agricultural production, often at the expense of conserving wildlife and protecting important ecosystem functions. The Development Challenge is reversing this trend as illustrated by three projects on rangeland and livestock management in Kenya. Dr. Corinna Riginos, a Princeton Science and Technology Fellow, is working on rebuilding the complete rangeland ecosystem by putting back the grass and by erecting simple erosion barriers that require little labor and money. Her research indicates that keeping trees on the landscape is vital for retaining the most fertile and carbon-rich soil.

Dr. Wilfred Odadi, a joint Princeton and African Wildlife Foundation Fellow, is examining the effectiveness of the Holistic Management method of herding livestock by encouraging pastoral herders to bunch their cows so they eat non-selectively allowing rarer more palatable grass to increase in abundance.


Badaracco ’12 in the field. (Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Rubenstein)

Calculations from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major, Christina Badaracco ’12, suggest that some unpalatable grasses could be harvested for conversion into pellets for burning in cookers or in small turbines to generate substantial amounts of electricity for small communities.

Also this spring, two Kenyan students participated in Princeton’s Semester in the Field Program along with Princeton undergraduates and they conducted independent research on important conservation issues at the Mpala Research Center which Princeton helps direct.

Health Challenge

In April 2012 the Health Challenge sponsored 18 Princeton students’ attendance at the annual Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference. Participants attended a variety of lectures and workshops featuring over 300 prominent leaders in global health from around the world.