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Mapping a Solution, Making an Impact


As part of her summer research mapping the path of salt pollution in an aquifer, Elise LePage ’18 used this electromagnetic ground conductivity meter. Dissolved salt increases the conductivity of groundwater.
As part of her summer research mapping the path of salt pollution in an aquifer, Elise LePage ’18 used this electromagnetic ground conductivity meter. Dissolved salt increases the conductivity of groundwater.

Elise LePage ’18 knows that someday she’d like to work on behalf of the environment, which made geosciences appealing. She likes its practical applications. LePage spent a summer doing research with Todd Rayne, the Joel W. Johnson Family Professor of Environmental Studies, mapping salt pollution in an aquifer. Road salt had contaminated municipal wells in a local village.

 “We were trying to do all sorts of measurements to figure out what path the salt took beneath the ground to get to the wells,” she says.

LePage loved doing academic work that was tied directly to people’s lives. It was eye-opening to realize that her summer’s work was just one phase of an on-going project, a link in a meticulous chain. “It felt like research just went so slowly because you need so much information to say, ‘We might know this,’” LePage says.

A likely geosciences minor, LePage majors in physics and math, disciplines she is confident will be valuable for her career – whatever it may be.

“I feel like math and physics are applicable to so many things and are so useful to know that I’m sure an opportunity will come up, and it will just click, and I’ll be able to tie it to something that will help the environment,” she says.

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