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UC Course Offers Unique Lessons in Geology and Life

Date: Aug. 27, 2001
By Chris Curran
Photos by Colleen Kelley
Contact: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: Research News

One of the most dramatic moments in "Gone With the Wind" occurs when a fiercely defiant Scarlett O'Hara cries out "I'll never go hungry again!" Amy Cochran, a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati and a graduate of Norwood High School, knows that feeling well.

Only in her case, she was determined never to fall again. Shortly after exploring the Tebenkof Glacier near Whittier Alaska, Amy found herself waist-deep in roaring, icy water. Just five days into a three-week UC course on Glacial Field Methods, the experience would have sent a weaker person heading to the airport and the warmer climes of Cincinnati. But not Amy. She sat in the icy creek and laughed!

Then day after day, she strove onward, climbing, striding, leaping. "I didn't fall once today," she proudly proclaimed after one of the many exhausting hikes required in the course.

"I don't normally fall when I go to class," she joked shortly after the accident, explaining the difference between this course and all the others she's taken. Amy Cochran

She knew the course taught by UC Professor Thomas Lowell would challenge both her scientific knowledge and her physical stamina. Surprisingly, she was more concerned about the academics than the arduous hikes.

"I would almost throw up worrying," she recalled, concerned that her lack of field experience would put her way behind the upperclassmen and graduate students in the course. "Now, I know they're just as confused as I am."

Professor Lowell is a "hands-off" professor in a hands-on course. Amy, like the other students, found herself pushed on a daily basis to discover how glaciers work by using HER skills -- not her professor's. Amy Cochran

"It takes a lot of time to figure out the answers, then it turns out they're not even the right answers. I have a much better appreciation of science now."

When she returns to UC this fall, Amy predicts her next geology course will be "100 times easier" now that she's mastered her first field methods class.

But no matter what her grades, Amy has definitely earned an A+ for her humor and fighting spirit throughout her Alaskan adventure.

"It's one of those trips that while you're doing it, you're kicking yourself and yelling 'If I ever do something like this again, shoot me!' But when you go home, you'll be so happy and proud of yourself. It's definitely a once in a lifetime experience."

Read about one student's passion for the great outdoors.

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