Einara Zahn

Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering

San Paulo, Brazil

“I’m a Princeton engineer because I want to decrease human impact on the water cycle.”

Research interests

Einara’s research area is hydrology, specifically how urbanization can disrupt the water cycle and water quality. Her research looks at two areas, water temperature and evaporation. Regarding water temperature, she looks at how an increase in impervious surfaces such as roads, sidewalks, and parking lots, can lead to spikes in temperature of small streams from rain water run-off. In many cases, the temperature can be elevated 10 degrees Fahrenheit or more, which decreases oxygen and affects wildlife, plants, and other ecological systems. In terms of evaporation, she studies how the ratio of transpiration in wetlands and different soils affects evapotranspiration. She likes the flexibility offered in her lab to look into related research areas and not be confined to a single topic. She has found that many professors at Princeton are open to letting students explore topics early on that suit their interests.

Early years

Einara grew up in the southern part of Brazil. She always knew she liked math and the environment, so when she decided to pursue her undergraduate degree she chose civil engineering because it was a good combination of the two areas. She is inspired to find solutions for the environmental problems that are important today.

She also remembers playing teaching with her friends during childhood, and later tutoring her friends in various subjects. “I always liked teaching, and when people reach out to me asking for help.” She intends to pursue the academic career path and be a professor one day.

Path to Princeton

Old Graduate College

Einara lives in the Old Graduate College, pictured here behind the statue of Andrew Fleming West, first Dean of the Graduate College from 1901-1928.

Image courtesy the researcher.

Before applying to graduate schools, Einara reached out via email to see if professors would be interested in her work. She recommends prospective students get to know their advisor well and make sure that it’s a good fit interpersonally, which will help support their research activity in the lab.

She earned a master’s degree in Brazil, but wanted to study in the United States to experience variety and to explore wider options, despite not having been to the U.S. before.

Princeton life

Einara Zahn

On a break from campus, Einara enjoys a summer day at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.

Image courtesy the researcher.

Einara takes advantage of the Dillon gym for many sports activities such as Krav maga, zumba, and yoga. She also started a running program to stay active and enjoy the outdoors with her friends. These physical activities, which she hadn’t done previously in Brazil, provide balance and help her relax her mind after working hard in the lab. She runs with a partner, and together, they enjoy pushing each other to run farther and longer. “You feel good about yourself and you go home to do your homework feeling better and thinking better.”

She also found the services at the McCosh Health Center to be helpful. “Just as if they were your new parents, they want to embrace you and make you feel comfortable here,” she said. “They are very friendly and don’t want you to just be working, but also feel good and be happy.” 

Overall, she loves the quality of life at Princeton. She especially appreciates the stipend and student housing that the University offers. “I don’t have any [financial] support from home, but I am able to eat out, go back home to Brazil, go on vacation,” she said. She feels that Princeton’s point of view is “Ok, let’s give [graduate students] enough so that they can just think about the important stuff.”

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