Mobile Menu

Andlinger Center News

May 30, 2023
Katie Kruse receives the Senior Thesis Award during the Class Day event held at the Maeder Hall courtyard. (Photos by Lori M. Nichols)

Andlinger Center honors 17 graduates, awards senior thesis prize at Class Day ceremony

By Colton Poore

The Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment celebrated the achievements of 17 graduating seniors at its Class Day ceremony on May 29.

Claire Gmachl, interim director of the Andlinger Center, congratulated the students who received a certificate from the Program in Sustainable Energy, and thanked their families for supporting their students throughout their time at Princeton.

“Through their wonderful accomplishments, the Class of 2023 members of the Program in Sustainable Energy have enriched not only themselves, but the entire community,” said Gmachl, who is also the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering.

In announcing the names and thesis titles of each certificate student, Elke Weber, the associate director for education at the Andlinger Center and the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, remarked on the breadth of topics the students explored in their senior thesis projects and applauded their wide-ranging interests.

Riti Bhandarkar accepts her certificate from Claire Gmachl.

For example, Timothy Kopec, a student in mechanical and aerospace engineering, studied a new system for the direct-air capture of carbon emissions, while Riti Bhandarkar, a civil and environmental engineering student, investigated the potential emissions impacts of electric vehicle charging in the western United States under different incentive scenarios.

“We congratulate all of you on your remarkable achievements,” said Weber, who is also a professor of psychology and public affairs.

At the ceremony, Katie Kruse, an economics student, was awarded the Andlinger Center Senior Thesis Prize in Energy and the Environment. The prize is awarded each year to the certificate student whose thesis exemplifies both outstanding research and a commitment to understanding and solving the world’s energy and environmental challenges.

Kruse’s thesis investigated Russia’s exports of natural gas in the lead-up to its invasion of Ukraine in 2022 to determine whether changes in the volume of exported natural gas could have foreshadowed the invasion.

Advised by Nancy Reichman, a professor of pediatrics at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and visiting professor of economics at Princeton, Kruse used linear regression models and sensitivity analyses to demonstrate a marked decrease in natural gas exports to Ukraine leading up to Russia’s invasion. She found the decline in exports deviated significantly from historical trends and could not be solely explained by other factors that have historically driven the volume of Russia’s natural gas exports. Reichman described Kruse’s thesis as “an elegant piece of work on an extremely important and timely topic in energy economics.”

“The certificate really helped me investigate my interest in the intersection of economics and sustainable energy,” Kruse said. “I used a lot of the things that I learned in my classes for the Sustainable Energy certificate to write my thesis.”

In presenting the award to Kruse, Egemen Kolemen, director of the Program in Sustainable Energy and associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, concurred that “Katie’s work contributes to the understanding of how geopolitics can impact energy markets and, in turn, helps inform strategies to ensure energy security.”

Much like the great breadth of their intellectual pursuits, Gmachl noted that “the career paths of our 17 seniors are as diverse as the students themselves.”

Some students plan to continue their academic careers, such as Francesca DiMare, a chemistry student who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry after completing a Fulbright Fellowship at Lund University in Sweden. Others, like Kruse, plan to enter industry, working as investment analysts, software engineers, and consultants across numerous sectors.

The ceremony closed with remarks from Kolemen, who thanked the students and their families for their hard work and diligence.

“I offer each member of the Program in Sustainable Energy, Class of 2023, our warmest congratulations, and wish all of you the very best as you embark on the next chapters of your lives,” Kolemen said.

(Back row from left to right) Elke Weber, Amisha Srivastava, Leila Owens, Aneesha Mancha, Riti Bhandarkar, Egemen Kolemen, Claire Gmachl (Front row) Yaxin Duan, Stanley Cho, Ho Joon Kim, and Katie Kruse.