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Tierney Weymueller ’18 Works to Make Science Accessible to All

When Tierney Weymueller first came to Bard for Language and Thinking, she was struck by how much was happening on campus. "I remember during L&T just being so amazed that we would go to hear the orchestra, then to the museum on campus, and then to go see a play. There were just so many different things going on all at once in this space. . . . I remember that being really exciting."

Tierney grew up all over, and has lived in New Mexico, Ireland, and Canada, among other places. Bard's programs in dance and environmental science attracted her from the start. She had always lived in cities, and was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the campus and her growing love for the Hudson Valley area.

At first, Tierney decided to pursue both dance and environmental and urban studies. But she had an eye-opening experience taking a class with Eli Dueker that focused on science accessibility. She decided to major in EUS with a focus on communications. Her academic work has centered around “how to make science accessible to people, or how to make it interesting, relatable, and transparent.” At Bard, Tierney made time to be involved with the Dance Program by taking dance classes and performing in other students' Senior Projects.

Taking the Water course with Professor Dueker cemented Tierney’s interest in science communication and environmental education. For Tierney, the class was “a perfect blend of scientific components and the various social issues around water. . . . We did group experiments, and my group worked at a farm in Red Hook. Our project was water colony testing, but then we also ended up organizing a tree planting and working with this farmer. I got to see how environmental science could be more holistic: it wasn’t just me in the lab by myself; it was a way of addressing social issues that I was interested in, kind of like this whole package."

Tierney has interned with the Saw Kill Watershed Community. There, she attended the monthly community meetings and assisted in organizing their water monitoring program. During her time at Bard, Tierney's involvement with the community helped her “understand that this whole outreach and communications side to science is ultimately what I’m really excited about.”

She also worked in the Eel Project. Every spring the glass eels migrate up into different tributaries of the Hudson. Using a net at the Bard Field Station, volunteers count the number of eels and then set them free.

Last summer, Tierney taught on the Hudson River sloop Clearwater. The Clearwater is an environmental education vessel, originally built by Pete Seeger, that sails up and down the Hudson. People go onboard to learn about the ecology and history of the river. The Clearwater focuses especially on educating young people so they’ll gain a new appreciation for the river and learn to protect it.

Tierney's Senior Project was an environmental oral history about people who work on, live near, and otherwise use the Saw Kill. She conducted interviews exploring people's relationships to the river and historical or ecological knowledge about it, and then wrote stories about the Saw Kill from these different perspectives.

In 2018, Tierney received three awards from the College: the Hudsonia Prize (shared with Elinor Stapylton), awarded by Hudsonia Ltd. to a student showing promise in the field of environmental studies; the Patricia Ross Weis '52 Scholarship, awarded to talented students in the social sciences who uphold Bard's values by ensuring a strong community; and the Rachel Carson Prize, honoring an outstanding Senior Project in environmental and urban studies that reflects Carson's determination to promote biocentric sensibility.

"The best part about Bard," Tierney observes, "is how your classes and activities connect to the community around the College. I have loved getting to know people in the Hudson Valley. Like the Saw Kill Watershed Community and the Clearwater staff—I’ve just gotten to know this group of people that’s really invested and active in this area. That has also become my community outside of Bard." She adds, "Without the professors here, I wouldn't have realized how this kind of work is really important to me. I wouldn't have known that this kind of community outreach around science exists; so it’s really exciting. . . . I love this area. The Hudson River—adore it. The fact that we can, as students, walk through the Tivoli Bays—I walked that walk every day last summer."

Tierney is now traveling through Europe with her two roommates from her first year at Bard. In the fall, she will begin work for the World Ocean School on board the historic schooner Roseway.
 
Post Date: 06-28-2018