Sam Ross '18

USGS/Woods Creek Internship, Summer 2017

My internship this past summer consisted of two components. The first half, which took place for the entirety of June, was at the USGS Water Quality office in Richmond. There I worked alongside hydrologists and hydrologic technicians to familiarize myself with their meticulous sampling and monitoring methodologies. I shadowed and assisted the technicians as they calculated discharge measurements, obtained water quality samples, and maintained gauges at a multitude of sites across Virginia. In addition, I collaborated with my partner from Randolph-Macon College to obtain and refine the running datasets for our respective streams (Woods Creek in the case of the W&L intern).

In July, I returned to Lexington to plan the construction of a stream gauge for Woods Creek. Working under the guidance of Professor Humston, I used my experience from the USGS office to design the gauge-a means of continuous monitoring of streamflow, water temperature and conductivity. The gauge will enable researchers to use this discharge data in conjunction with nutrient and sediment concentrations to calculate daily loads of the stream. By calculating the loads of lesser tributaries such as Woods Creek, we can better understand the processes and timescales by which nutrients and sediments enter larger systems such as the Maury, the James, and ultimately the Chesapeake. In addition, any and all WQ data derived from the gauge may be used to supplement the USGS database, to inform the city of Lexington, or merely to stimulate research and intellectually curiosity within the university. I will continue to maintain the gauge and refine the streamflow record throughout the school year.

For other opportunities, view the Geology Department's Summer Research and Internships page