Geological Society of America Features HWS Research – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Geological Society of America Features HWS Research

William Smith students' research on nitrates in Seneca Lake and zebra mussels in Lake Ontario and Seneca Lake were presented this week at the annual meeting of the national Geological Society of America.

March 29, 2002 GENEVA, N.Y.—Two William Smith students, Lindsey Bowser and Margaret Etherington, presented their work at the 37th annual meeting of the northeastern section of the Geological Society of America, March 25 through 27, in Springfield, Mass. They attended along with John Halfman, associate professor of geoscience and director of the environmental studies program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Bowser and Etherington presented two studies: one project examined the origins of nitrates in the Seneca Lake Watershed that concluded that hog farms are not the source, another project looked at Seneca Lake and Lake Ontario to examine the type of sedimentation in which zebra and guagga mussels and Diporeia live.

Lindsey Bowser, a William Smith senior from LaFayette, N.Y., investigated the source and fate of nitrates in the Seneca Lake Watershed. She collected weekly samples from seven subwatersheds representing the array of available surface areas, landuse, soils, and bedrock. The results indicate streams that drain agricultural land had the largest nitrate concentrations, and a wastewater treatment facility provides a point source of nitrates to Big Stream. The research concluded that hog farms are not the source of nitrates as feared by the local community.

Bowser is a chemistry major and a geoscience and environmental studies double minor. She has been consistently named to the dean’s list and has been awarded the Aten Award in Physical Chemistry. She is involved in the Colleges Chorale. She is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Michael Bowser, of LaFayette.

Margaret Etherington, a William Smith senior from Devon, Pa., studied the sedimentation in Seneca Lake and Lake Ontario to see if there was anything in the sedimentation that was causing the zebra and quagga mussels to live in an area once populated with Diporeia. The Diporeia have moved to deeper depths due to the competition from mussels for space and food resources. Diporeia are the bottom of the food chain for game fish, such as lake trout and salmon, hence their disappearance is affecting the fishing industry. Etherington concluded that the sediment in Lake Ontario and Seneca Lake had no influence on the habitation of either Dreissena or Diporeia and that the competition for food is what drove the Diporeia into deeper waters. Etherington’s research is part of an ongoing study started by Dawn Dittman of the United States Geological Society.

Etherington is a double major in geoscience and environmental science who hopes to work in the field of oceanography. Through the Colleges programs abroad she studied in both Belize and Iceland. On campus, she has coordinated Folk Fest for the past four years and is part of the Peer Education in Human Relations program. In the Geneva community she has volunteered at the YMCA, teaching gymnastics. She is the daughter of Russell and Thayer Etherington of Devon.

The Hobart and William Smith geoscience department encourages students to involve themselves in research projects and paper presentations beyond the HWS campus. Many class and independent study projects result in presentations at national meetings and/or publications in national and international journals. The department prides itself in providing the opportunity for students to become part of the international geological community and for them to experience possible career paths.

Hobart for men and William Smith for women-private, liberal arts and science institutions with a combined enrollment of 1,800-have an ambitious geology curriculum designed for students with a wide variety of interests and needs, ranging from an introduction to a strong preparation for a career in geology. Hobart and William Smith are located in Geneva, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

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