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Students Ask: What’s Your Opinion of the Hudson?

Hudson river researchers
Hudson river researchers
From left to right: Wendy Arias Guanga, researcher; Melanie Formosa, research manager; Dana Franz, researcher

Three Stony Brook University students are conducting a survey to determine the public’s perception of the Hudson River under the mentorship of David Taylor, an assistant professor in the sustainability studies program and the director of the environmental humanities major in the School of Atmospheric and Marine Sciences (SoMAS).

Wendy Arias Guanga ’22, a health science major;  Melanie Formosa ’22, a journalism major and environmental humanities minor; and Dana Franz ’21, an environmental humanities major, aim to incorporate the socio-ecological facet of how reputation comes into play in discovering the status of a well-known river in their home state of

“We decided that the Hudson River and the way the community views it casts an important environmental footprint on New York, so we wanted to delve into the mystery of how reputation is created,” said Formosa.

In Fall 2020, the students were all in SUS 203, Interpretation and Critical Analysis. They were grouped together to conduct a geo-mapping survey centered around an ecological term. Once the semester ended, the students were offered the opportunity to accept a research internship with Professor Taylor as their advisor.

“With the Hudson River spanning from Upstate New York to New York City, we found it easier to split the river into different sections,” said Arias Guanga. “Each member was responsible for researching their respective area of the Hudson River. In order to create a quality survey, we researched the Hudson’s history, pollution levels and more. Once we were well-versed on the Hudson, we decided to put together our survey.”

Their project, “Public Perceptions of the Hudson River: A Story Map of Aesthetics and Values,” will use geographic information system technology to research perceptions, aesthetics, and values of the Hudson River. The students will develop a qualitative data survey using an online program titled Survey 123, aiming for approximately 3,000 participants. They will then analyze the data gathered and create a story map summarizing that data using images, artwork and writing by participants.

Formosa, as research manager of the team, will be interpreting the results and preparing the final report. The results are expected to be published later this summer or early fall.

An Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URECA) grant for the amount of $4,000 was awarded to Formosa and will support 10 weeks of the study’s full-time research.

To take the survey, please visit

— Glenn Jochum

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  • oops I like my last comment had my email address mis-spelled , I woud like to hear abut this study supervised by Prof Taylor, Fran Dunwell

  • Would also like to know the outcome! Both my son’s former alumni, now live upstate and their apartment complex back door is 200 feet from the Hudson! Best view in the world!!!

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