Education News

Earth Institute Provides Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

2007-04-12

posted 4/12/2007

This year the Earth Institute at Columbia University gave fourteen undergraduates the opportunity to take part in the Research Assistant Program.  Students Columbia College, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Barnard worked one-on-one with faculty and staff and gained valuable research experience.

The diverse set of projects featured this semester included an assessment of the management of the Millennium Villages with Tanya Heikkila, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, and a study of the microbiology of drinking water wells in Bangladesh with Brian Maillioux, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science.  A select group of students works with their advisor, or advisors in the case of the student assigned to work with Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez, Christine Padoch and Robin Sears from the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC), on a reconstruction of the history of the Amazon estuary.  Storke-Doherty Lecturer and Doherty Associate Research Scientist, David Ho’s project is the development of a bamboo bicycle as a means of sustainable transportation in Africa, a project which also employs an OEP-sponsored research assistant.

The Research Assistant Program is as valuable to the faculty involved as it is to students. “The undergraduate research assistants funded through the Earth Institute are invaluable to maintaining a robust research agenda,” notes Professor Heikkila.  “Not only do they provide extra time and brainpower needed for the development and analysis of some of my projects (which might otherwise sit on the shelf until they're stale), but they bring new insights and energy to projects that can inspire creativity and excitement for these issues.”  

In the past, students have also worked on projects dealing with the water supply in the Millennium Villages, an integrated surveillance system for AIDS monitoring and control, New York climate and health, and community-based environmental planning.  

Students who are interested in applying for research assistantships for the summer 2007 semester should contact students@ei.columbia.edu or 212.854.3142.  Positions will be posted later this semester.