Hobart and William Smith Colleges - An Interdisciplinary Look at Seneca Lake
The HWS Update
Wernoch Rylee 3

An Interdisciplinary Look at Seneca Lake

After collecting water samples on Honeoye Lake during a research internship last summer, Rylee Wernoch ’21 is assembling a rich context for her data, creating a traveling display to educate the regional community about the lake, its significance throughout history and the challenges of its conservation.

Wernoch Rylee 2“The lake is a huge reason many students choose HWS, and a valuable resource to the entire Finger Lakes community,” Wernoch says. “That’s all the more reason to make sure we aren’t taking it for granted and protect it.”

A double major in biology and environmental studies, Wernoch is working with Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Beth Kinne, exploring the economic, social and biological importance of the lake through history, and the many research and community initiatives currently underway to help protect the health of the lake and the watershed.

“This research specifically has a focus on how people perceive things,” says Wernoch, “and learning about how to make things readable and more professional to attract different demographics has been both challenging and fun.”

The traveling display is a part of the larger Year of Water programming, spearheaded by Kinne, to engage and educate the HWS campus and broader community on issues of sustainability and water conservation through coursework, research, art exhibits, interactive displays, service projects and more. Wernoch’s display will feature an interactive portion that allows the audience to read about the issues, explore the data and history, and pledge to be more mindful of water issues.

“Summer research makes you look at things more critically, and set goals,” says Wernoch. “My overall goal of the research is to pay attention to the water around you and understand the importance it has to every aspect of your life. I urge people to understand the importance of water, think about it more critically and not to take it for granted.”

Wernoch will be studying in South Africa in the spring of 2020 and is looking forward to seeing the biodiversity in the region.

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.