Wells of Opportunity at the USGS – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Wells of Opportunity at the USGS

For a double major in geoscience and environmental studies like Ryan Whitehouse, leaving “well” enough alone just doesn’t cut it.

This summer, Whitehouse interned with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), working primarily with the groundwater specialist in the office and the field, gathering data on county-wide watersheds.

“I investigated groundwater wells, where specialized equipment would be used to measure water level and quality,” says Whitehouse.  “The USGS has been a forerunner in ecological and technological advances in the environmental sciences. I felt that the USGS offered an excellent opportunity to get hands-on experience in my field of interest while exploring new avenues of green technology.”

In addition to a briefing program for basic clearance on papers and data related to government programs, Whitehouse was given tutorials on the equipment used by the USGS, including the opportunity to learn to use Trimble GIS products for groundwater analysis and a multi-day training session on Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology. 

Ryan Whitehouse

“Moreover,” Whitehouse says, “I worked on my own to create government-quality spreadsheets for data maintenance and review. I was taught how to create Geodatabases using the ArcGIS and ArcCatalog programs.”

From computerized data entry and analysis in the Ithaca USGS office, to seismic refraction studies, groundwater-quality sample collection and lab preparation in the field, Whitehouse says he “worked with some outstanding, world-class, hydrologic scientists and received a well-rounded taste of what the USGS Water discipline does.”

Whitehouse is the recipient of the Robert Malley’79 and his internship was funded in part by the Parents Endowed Internship Fund.

Now planning to pursue a master’s degree in seismology or water resources engineering/management with a concentration in GIS, Whitehouse says that completing this internship helped solidify his interest in graduate studies relating to the natural sciences.

But one of the most rewarding experiences of the internship played to Whitehouse’s environmental side.  Treasurer for Campus Greens Club and a volunteer for Seneca Lake Beach Cleanup, New York Canon Envirothon, Highway Green Cleanup, Trash to Treasure, Day of Service, Geneva Community Lunch Program and America Counts, Whitehouse says that most of all, “as an environmental advocate, I feel it’s important to protect the natural environment. I carry a deep respect for nature and plan on making a difference in the world’s future. With the knowledge of green technology that I have gathered from internships such as this one at the USGS, I am confident that my objective will be successful.”

Some of the projects Whitehouse worked on and was involved with this summer can be viewed online:

–          Aquifer assessment of the Tug Hill glacial Aquifer

–          Tully Valley hydrogeology and the Hydrogeology of the Tully Valley Mudboil and landslide area

–          Hydrogeologic assessment of the glacial-valley aquifers in the NY Southern-tier with respect to potential Marcellus shale gas development