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Princeton for the Summer: High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI) Internship

August 22, 2022
Amélie Lemay

This summer, I'm working on a sustainable energy project creating OLEDs to power photocatalysis through a High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI) internship. This means I'm living in Princeton, and I was initially worried that it would feel a little lonely to be on campus when classes aren't in session. When I was speaking with friends about their summer plans, though, I was pleasantly surprised by how many would also be in Princeton this summer. A few of my friends have other HMEI internships that take place in labs, while others have research internships through the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment (ACEE). Contrary to my worries, campus is still humming with activity in over the summer.

There's a community of about 50 HMEI interns on campus, and we recently had a group dinner where I caught up with friends and was introduced to several new ones. We had Nomad Pizza (restaurant that serves brick oven pizza) in Guyot Hall, and I got to hear about one friend's fieldwork at the nearby Watershed Institute and about another's work at the Plasma Physics Lab.

Students serving themselves pizza and soft drinks at a table inside Guyot Hall
HMEI interns meeting for dinner

There are also around 20 ACEE interns on campus, one of whom, John, works in the same lab as I do with a different graduate student mentor. It's nice that I'm not the only undergrad in the lab, because I'm reminded that it's normal to face a steep learning curve when adapting to operating the specialized instruments! While the graduate students make operating a thermal evaporator with three pairs of gloves on seem effortless, John and I still have practice to do to achieve that level of dexterity.

Being on campus in the summer is nice because it gives me a chance to explore the Princeton area at a time when I'm not overwhelmed with coursework. On weekends I like to visit the shops on Nassau Street, like Nearly New thrift shop or Labyrinth Books, or explore the area by running on the towpath or biking around town. Another perk of Princeton in the summer is the farmers' market, which is held every Thursday. New Jersey summer fruit absolutely cannot be beat!

A checkered tablecloth with teal berry pint containers holding cherries on top
Cherries at the Princeton Farmers Market

When I was applying for HMEI internships for the summer, I initially considered several of the offerings with international travel. There were opportunities to study grasslands in Madagascar of Mozambique, for example, which would certainly have made for a unique and memorable summer of travel. I decided against it, though, when I realized that I'd really prefer to gain more wet lab experience and spend time with my Princeton community. I'm truly enjoying spending summer on campus, and I would recommend it to any student as a way to appreciate the lovely area during a calmer time of year.