Summer Research Opportunities

2018 Summer Research Assistantships:

To apply, contact the faculty member to determine if your background is appropriate for the position. If approved, complete the online Summer Research application form. Directions for submission are at the top of the application page.

Faculty Supervisor: Eli Tziperman
School: SEAS, FAS-Earth and Planetary Sciences
Dept./Area: Earth and Planetary Sciences
Project Topic: Climate Dynamics

Undergraduate students with a strong background in physics and math are invited to join us for research projects either during the summer or the academic year. Students will learn about and participate in ocean, atmospheric and climate dynamics research activities, including the study of climate variability and climate change, both natural and human-caused. Possible project topics range from El Nino, the large-scale oceanic circulation, and past warm climates, with implications to future climate change as well. Typical projects involve Matlab programming and the analysis of climate models or observations. More information on our web page:

Contact: Eli Tziperman

Faculty Supervisor: Rohini Pande
School: HKS
Dept./Area: Public Policy
Project Topic: Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) Environment Internship

Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), a research program at Harvard Kennedy School, is using low-cost sensors to study both indoor and outdoor pollution in India. We are currently in the early phases of two projects. The first examines urban air pollution in Delhi using portable sensors to generate detailed heat maps that identify pollution hotspots and spatiotemporal patterns of pollution within Delhi. The second uses sensors to measure use of efficient cookstoves and other ‘green’ products (solar lamps and water purifiers) in rural areas. The intern will help to collect pollution data from several locations around Delhi using the low-cost, portable sensors and will support data analysis of sensor data. They may also contribute to the cookstoves study through data analysis and possibly travel to field sites. Location: New Delhi, India.

Contact: Rohini Pande and Eve Margolis

Faculty Supervisor: Loretta Mickley
School: SEAS
Dept./Area: Atmospheric Chemistry
Project Topic: Investigating the effects of weather on surface air quality

Our research focuses on chemistry-climate interactions in the troposphere. We seek to understand how gases and particles affect climate and how climate change, in turn, can influence the composition of the atmosphere. Our group analyzes observations from a range of sources (ground-based monitors, aircraft, and satellites) and conducts modeling studies of atmospheric chemistry and climate. Key topics for summer projects include investigating the effects of meteorology on wildfires, smog episodes, or dust storms. Interest in programming is essential, and some knowledge of statistics would be helpful.

Contact: Loretta Mickley

Faculty Supervisor: Tina Duhaime
School: HMS
Dept./Area: Neurosurgery
Project Topic: Energy and Air Quality Optimization for a Prototype Green Children’s Hospital

HUCE Faculty Associate at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the leadership team in Capital and Facility Planning and architecture at Partners Healthcare seek a summer intern for 2018 to help research precedents for zero net energy and low toxicity buildings in a pediatric healthcare setting.  The ideal candidate would have engineering, public health, energy, architecture, and/or air quality interests. Depending on specific background and interests, the successful candidate would help collect data on what technologies have been utilized on both the demand and supply side of the energy equation in health care and related settings, what approaches to monitoring indoor air quality and designing possible feedback loops might be employed, what approaches have been used to allow for naturalistic plantings and gardens but protect from mold and pollen, and similar areas important to this ongoing project.  The intern would work with leaders in the “green hospital” movement at both the architectural and strategic level, and with faculty on the hospital staff.  Case studies and/or “white paper” output would be mentored by experts in the field, and may contribute to the ongoing design of a new facility. The intern will gain familiarity with LEED as well as International Living Futures Institute certification processes, and how these environmental goals intersect with practical and budgetary considerations in a real-world health care architectural setting. Continued collaboration after the internship also may be possible.

Contact: Tina Duhaime

Faculty Supervisor: Joe Allen
School: HSPH
Dept./Area: Environmental Health
Project Title: Healthy Buildings

We spend 90% of our time indoors. It follows that the places where we live, work, learn and play have an outsized impact on our health. The mission of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is to improve the lives of all people in all buildings, everywhere, every day ( We do this by investigating the connections between the built environment and health and creating technological solutions to impact public health globally.

We are looking for students to contribute to several of our projects this summer:

  • VR For Health – a research study using virtual and augmented reality to explore the impact of biophilic design on health and well-being.
  • Climate For Health – a new initiative exploring buildings role in climate change, both around mitigation and adaptation.
  • Healthier Building Materials Academy – a partnership with the Harvard Office for Sustainability that aims to drive research into practice around purchasing decisions on our our campus and beyond.
  • The Global CogFx Study – a multi-year study investigating how buildings from around the world impact the cognitive function of workers.
  • Building Evidence For Health – a research translation project that produces a series of one-page publications aggregating the known science on topics related to Healthy Buildings.
  • Firefighter Health – an environmental monitoring study examining the role of the fire station on firefighter health.

Activities for the student researcher may include:

  • Conduct field studies collecting environmental measurements in
  • Organize, clean, and analyze environmental sensor data
  • Conduct literature reviews
  • Work with researchers on developing field sampling protocols
  • Recruit and manage study participants
  • Develop web content, logos, and interactive project posters

Specific activities will depend on the interests and skills of the student. We are interested in multi-disciplinary research and welcome candidates from any academic background (e.g., computer science; graphic, web and video design; business; history; education). No specific academic or work prerequisites required. We are looking for outstanding team members who are: positive; independent; creative; fun; organized; interested in the built environment, health and sustainability.

Contact: Joseph Allen and Cc: Skye Flanigan

Faculty Supervisor: Elsie Sunderland
School: SEAS, HSPH
Dept./ Area: Environmental Science and Engineering
Project Topic: Marine Pollution

Are you interested in environmental science, oceanography, and public health? Would you like to be part of a group of researchers that care about the environment and want to improve public and ecological health? Are you interested in laboratory analysis as well as computer models? Then this project in the “Biogeochemistry of Global Contaminants” group may be a perfect fit for you (
This research project aims to investigate the potential of the Gulf Stream to redistribute man-made, persistent and toxic pollutants along the US coastline. The project is divided in a laboratory and a modeling component. During the lab component you will help analyze seawater samples collected during a 2017 research cruise along the US East coast for fluorinated compounds. Fluorinated are found throughout the global oceans. They have been shown to bioaccumulate in marine organisms, thereby threatening ecological and human health. The modeling component of this project will aim at developing a mass balance for fluorinated compounds in the gulf stream. Your interest in particular aspects of this project (e.g. oceanography, ecological health, etc.) can be taken into account in developing the final project outline. Some experience is in programming a prerequisite for this project. The work you do over the summer can serve as the basis for a senior thesis at the College.

Contact: Charlotte Wagner

Faculty Supervisor: Henry Lee
School: HKS
Dept./Area: Public Policy
Project Topic: Zero-energy buildings

The project will assess the feasibility of zero-energy neighborhoods. The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) has designed and retrofitted a zero-energy building (HouseZero) for its headquarters. HouseZero has cutting-edge technologies that allow the building to operate in all seasons without any commercial energy. The challenge is how can this project be scaled to other existing buildings? How can the lessons learned during the design and construction period be scaled? The project will require the student to identify the key technologies and ideas that could be scaled, the barriers and challenges that would need to be addressed, and some thoughts on strategies that might be developed to overcome those barriers. Finally, the student researcher would assess potential partners from either the public or NGO sector with whom CGBC might collaborate in an effort to replicate HouseZero. Excellent writing skills required. Familiarity with building efficiency and technology preferred, but not required.   

Contact: Amanda Sardonis

Faculty Supervisor: Scot Martin
School: SEAS
Dept./Area: Environmental Chemistry
Project Topic: Ecosystem and Atmospheric Chemistry Research in Amazonia

We have developed a sampler for UAV capture of emissions from the forest. These samples are analyzed in partnership with the Analytical Chemistry Facility of Amazonas State University, Manaus, Brazil. As a student, you live in Manaus, and you carry out samples analysis in the laboratory, all the while learning about biosphere-atmospheric exchange of the tropical forest. Interested applicants should have previous experience in a wet lab. No knowledge of prior Portuguese is needed, but you should plan on taking lessons in Manaus. For more information see: and

Contact: Scot Martin 

Faculty Supervisor: Holly Samuelson
School: GSD
Dept./Area: Architecture
Project Topic: Toward Healthy and Efficient Residential Buildings: A Statistical Study

This research seeks to strengthen our understanding of the correlations between indoor environmental conditions, such as temperature and light, on sleep patterns in real buildings, in an effort to improve the design of passively cooled residential buildings. The research team has been collecting data on both indoor environmental conditions, such as light levels and temperature, and from wearable devices (Fitbits) which include estimates of occupants’ sleep timing and quality.  One task of the summer researcher would be to help perform a statistical analysis, such as multiple variable linear regression, (with coaching) to uncover correlations between the architectural conditions and sleep. Researcher should be familiar with Stata, R, MATLAB, or other statistical software. Concurrently, the research team will use computerized building performance simulation to answer the following questions. Would a more nuanced definition of indoor comfort conditions, one that includes conditions thought to improve sleep, change our passive architectural design strategies in residential buildings? If we prioritize sleep comfort, how would these design changes impact overall comfort and energy use?  If interested, there may be an opportunity for the summer researcher to participate in this portion of the research as well. This information could ultimately help improve the design of passively-cooled buildings, ranging from dormitories to emergency shelters.

The researcher’s participation would be contingent upon approval from the Harvard internal review board for human subject testing. Interested students should send a CV and cover letter, including a description of statistics training, to Holly Samuelson, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Design.

Contact: Holly Samuelson

Faculty Supervisor: Dustin TIngley
School: FAS
Dept./Area: Government
Project Topic: Public Opinion and the Environment

Public opinion is an important part of studying climate change politics. We will use several different platforms, including new methods like social media sites, to conduct public opinion polls on environmental issues. We will particularly focus on reaching respondents in otherwise hard to reach areas, such as individuals in rural areas of the US and Europe. The RA will help design and field polls as well as analyze and present results.  Skills needed: Stata or R

Contact: Dustin Tingley


Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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