Ohio Wesleyan Senior Works to Map Road Salt’s Effect on Freshwater Ecosystems
Name: Wesley Rancher ’23
“In this project,” Rancher said of his independent study, “we conducted an analysis to predict which ponds in Delaware County are most vulnerable to (road) salt exposure based on factors such as pond size, watershed size, distance from impervious surfaces, amount of impervious surfaces, and the amount of salt applied near a pond.”
Assessing Salt Vulnerability
“The goal is to find a way to automate our analytical process in ArcGIS to allow us to develop a salt vulnerability assessment for all ponds in Delaware County and create a well-rounded map of the landscape. In theory, this might look something like a heat map where we score ponds based on our predictions for their vulnerability to salinization.
“The intention would be to make the map accessible to the University and to the public through Arc Online once it is finalized.”
“There is always something that you are learning in the classroom that can have a real-world application, so I always try to approach a new class with this mindset and get something out of the experience.
My Favorite Moment
“There is a lot that could come out of continued connections between OWU and people who work for Delaware City and County departments, and a lot of good is to come with a greater connection with the Delaware community.”
“If we can automate our processes and establish a significant correlation between our predictions and actual observed concentrations for ponds, then publishing a paper would be the next step. Our (fall) project did not involve any other students, but including students in the future to help develop the model more or to go out and collect data would be awesome whether it be this spring or in future semesters.”
Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan
“When I was looking into the University back in high school, I was unaware of the opportunities it would later provide me with. However, I am very grateful for my experience because of the close connections I have developed with peers and professors; opportunities to hone in on multidisciplinary skills in Science, Philosophy, and Spanish; and (ability to) conduct and present research through the OWU Connection and SSRP (Summer Science Research Program).”
My Plans After Graduation
“Subsequent to my graduate studies, I really do not know what I want to do, but I would love to work in industry in a niche scientific field, either at a company that works on solving environmental problems out in the world, or at a company that needs more sophisticated understanding, recognition, and initiative towards its own environmental impact.