profile pic

Christian G

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Princeton University


Biogeochemistry, Chemistry, Ecology, Microbial ecology, Geochemistry, Plant-microbe interactions


Hi! My name is Christian Gray, and I am from a small town on the Western Slope of Colorado! I am a PhD student at Princeton University in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department, and my research is focused on the ways that plants use symbioses with bacteria and fungi to influence the biogeochemical cycles, such as the carbon and nitrogen cycles. My primary research experiences have been focused on studying how communities of microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) associated with the roots of plants change based on the identity of the plant and the nutrients in the soil in the Panamanian Rainforest, and in the fynbos in South Africa. I majored in chemistry as an undergraduate, and then worked outside of academia as a geochemist for 2 years where my main responsibilities were crafting scientific arguments and improving scientific communication. In general, I like to spend time outside, hiking, and playing tennis or spikeball with my friends. When I'm not spending time outside, I enjoy playing some videogames and boardgames, or doing some pretty elaborate cooking projects! As a first-generation student from rural Colorado, the mentors I had in science and writing were an enormous part of the reason I ended up doing science at the level I do today. Mentorship is a rewarding way for me to help young scientists grow and to have that influence on others.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Influence of Road Salting on Plants

Road salting is a common phenomenon to improve the safety of roads. However, salt is well-known to inhibit the growth of plants at high enough concentrations. With a relatively simple experiment, we can answer the question: does rain or snow that runs off of the road contain high enough salt to harm local plants?

Simple Biogeochemical Cycle

The carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycles are heavily influenced by human influences on the environment. We can design a simple box model to test the what influence factors such as fertilizer production, or sustainable agricultural practices have on these biogeochemical cycle

Coding skills

R, Matlab

Languages I know

Spanish, beginner; French, intermediate

Teaching experience

I have been a TA for classes including Organic Chemistry and Ecology, as well as the primary educator for Wilderness First Aid Classes. During two Ecology classes I taught, I helped students create feasible and interesting projects and guided them through the process. I also currently mentor an undergraduate that is working on her senior thesis. I have been mentoring students in biology, chemistry, and math for 8+ years. I have also worked to teach students how to create inclusive environments and cohesive groups through an outdoor orientation program.


Work experience

Princeton University (2019 - Current)
Graduate Student
S.S. Papadopulous & Associates (2019 - 2017)
Senior Staff Scientist
Princeton University Outdoor Action (2017 - 2014)
Leader Trainer AND Wilderness First Aid Instructor
Princeton Environmental Insitute (2015 - 2015)
Geochemistry intern


Princeton University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2017)
Princeton University
MS Master of Science
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Princeton University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Interested in working with expert mentors like Christian?

Apply now