Zachary Garvin one of four recipients for a PEI Walbridge Fund Graduate Award for Environmental Research

Written by
Morgan Kelly
July 10, 2020
Morgan Kelly, July 10, 2020

The Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) has selected four Princeton University graduate students as 2020 recipients of the Walbridge Fund Graduate Award for Environmental Research. The awardees are Danielle Chase, Nicolas Choquette-Levy, Zachary Garvin and Julie Tierney. They represent the departments of mechanical and aerospace engineering, geosciences, and ecology and evolutionary biology, as well as the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

These most recent awardees will explore environmental topics such as how microorganisms in Earth’s harshest environments consume certain greenhouse gases; the psychological factors that influence how smallholder farmers perceive and adapt to climate change; how plant adaptation influences forest biodiversity, productivity and carbon storage; and fluid-driven fracturing in porous natural materials.

Now in its 12th year, the Walbridge Award program provides up to $10,000 in research funding to Princeton Ph.D. candidates pursuing innovative research on climate science, energy solutions, environmental policy or, more broadly, on other environmental topics. With the latest awards, nearly 50 Princeton graduate students have received research support from the program.

Garvin will explore the extent to which soil microorganisms living in Earth’s harshest environments consume less-prevalent, or trace, greenhouse and climate-relevant gases such as methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide. He will analyze soil from the high-altitude Polloquere hot springs in Chile, which are surrounded by multiple geothermal areas and sulfurous volcanic formations. He hopes to help determine if microorganisms consuming trace gases outcompete photosynthetic organisms under extreme conditions due to the greater competition for carbon dioxide and sunlight. His work could expand our understanding of greenhouse gas uptake in arid and mountainous environments, as well as the role of bacteria in these areas in local and global biogeochemical cycles.