Making Sense of the Planet: Land, Sky and Water

When you study Geoscience at Hobart and William Smith, you’re understanding the world, its phenomena and the roles humans play in impacting their environments. Through courses, research and internships in hydrology, geology and atmospheric science, you’ll be prepared to take on the pressing challenges of our time and those of the future.


Student SpotlightPasquale Palumbo '23

major: Geoscience
minors: biology, aquatic sciences, environmental studies 

“Prior to coming to HWS, I never considered studying Geoscience. After taking a first year seminar with Associate Professor of Geoscience Tara Curtin and Introduction to Hydrogeology with Associate Professor of Geoscience David Finkelstein, I knew I would be a Geoscience major. Both professors have been crucial mentors as I navigated college as a first generation student. They’ve also provided opportunities to conduct research on the plankton community and water quality of Seneca lake and fisheries in the Finger Lakes Region, and helped me land work with University of Wyoming on the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Project.

I plan to utilize what I have learned in my major and minors to pursue a career in wildlife conservation.”




And Research

Geoscience students looking to engage more deeply in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in their chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Chase Bell '22: First Look at Microplastics in the Human Water Cycle of Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes Regions of New York, USA
    Nan Crystal Arens, Adviser 
  • Gabrielle Alyce Linscott ’21: Atmospheric Rivers as Drought Busters in the Northeastern United States
    Nicholas Metz, Adviser
  • Patrick Alexander Stone McMillan ’21: Examining Conditions that Facilitate Shore-Parallel Lake-Effect Snowbands through the Mohawk River Valley and Over the Adirondacks
    Nicholas Metz, Adviser
  • Jacob L. Kotcher ’20: Origination in the Phanerozoic
    Nan Crystal Arens, Adviser

Conduct water quality research with the data buoy on Seneca Lake or work with local educators at the Finger Lakes Institute.

Through “GEO 299 – Geoscience Field Studies” you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the geological formations of Caribbean islands or chase storms across the Midwest.

At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.



Amplify your Geoscience degree with the skills, knowledge and ethical foundation needed to be a leader in the 21st century. In partnership with the Centennial Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, our department offers the opportunity to engage in leadership development that culminates in a degree with leadership distinction and provides a competitive edge when applying to internships, jobs and graduate or professional school.

To graduate with leadership distinction, you will complete a series of foundational, action-oriented and reflective milestones within the Geoscience and Leadership curriculum. We encourage you to begin your leadership journey as early as your second semester on campus. 


No Borders:Global Education

Conduct water research along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or study the atmospheric effects of climate change in England.

Wherever you go, you’ll apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.

geoscience in san salvador 



Belonging, Diversity and Equity

The Geoscience Department is dedicated to helping students find connection and build belonging. Faculty offer one-on-one office hours, including some flexible evening and weekend hours, to ensure students understand the material and have the support they need to succeed. “The Geo Club” offers students the opportunity to bond during field trips and activities surrounding geology, hydrology or atmospheric science. “Women in Geoscience” is a student-led group that empowers women to become leaders within each of the different spheres of geoscience.

Discover our world and the issues that influence it.


Take an in-depth look at many of the fundamental aspects of the atmosphere. Understand severe weather, factors influencing climate and how these phenomena impact every part of our lives.


Explore the form and function of the solid Earth using plate tectonics as the central theme.


Learn about hydrology using scientific quantitative reasoning to examine the characteristics and importance of water across environmental and geophysical sciences.

FacilitiesOn the Banks of aResource Rich Lake

Seneca Lake and the greater Finger Lakes Region are an invaluable living laboratory for Geoscience students. Study on the water aboard The William Scandling and JB Snow research vessels, or use the Seneca Lake data buoy to collect water information. You’ll also have access to high quality, advanced equipment in Lansing Hall, where the Geoscience Department is housed, including the department’s meteorology and rock preparation labs.

Alum ImpactCareer Shaping Research

joanna shaw ’22
geologist at haley & aldrich

As a student, JoAnna researched harmful algal blooms, work that has since been published in the science journal Water. This experience helped her land a position at Haley & Aldrich and guide her as a geologist. 




  • Scripps Institute
  • National Weather Service
  • South Dakota Mesonet
  • Finger Lakes Institute
  • Pacific Whale Foundation
  • Brandwatch
  • Forbes Tate Partners
  • National Park Service
  • Environment Resources Management
  • The Washington Post
  • APTIM Environment
  • Building Energy Exchange
  • Numerous High Schools
  • Albert Engineering
  • Haley and Aldrich Geology
  • AmeriCorps
  • PS&S Design and Engineering
  • Summit Drilling Corporation
  • Fremont Environmental
  • The Pike Company
  • Orleans County Health Department
  • Tetra Tech Environmental
  • Chubb
  • American Water
  • Brown and Caldwell
  • Ace Info Solutions, Inc.
  • Day Automation
  • United States Golf Association
  • Guy Carpenter
  • Thule Group
  • Yuba Water Agency
  • D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C.
  • The Nature Conservancy and North Shore Land Alliance
  • Hazen and Sawyer
  • TRC Companies
  • Verisk
  • Liberty Mutual


  • Colorado State University
  • University at Albany
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Ohio University
  • University at Maryland
  • University at Virginia
  • Virginia Tech
  • Columbia
  • Harvard
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
  • University of Vermont
  • Plymouth State University
  • University of Miami
  • Texas Tech University
  • Washington State University
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Georgetown University
  • University of Florida
  • Binghamton University