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Physics Prof Sets Compass for World Championship

By Robin Tovey ’97 on July 28, 2015 12:23 PM

Prof. Alison Crocker sprints through the Reed Canyon on her way to Scotland to represent the USA at the World Orienteering Championship. Tom Humphrey

Prof. Alison Crocker [physics 2014–] will represent the United States at the 2015 World Orienteering Championships, held July 31–August 7, in and about Inverness, Scotland.

Prof. Crocker is scheduled to compete in the sprint, the relay, and the long distance courses at the event. She has taken part in international orienteering since 2010, and she attributes her success to the concept of consistency. “Doing both the armchair studying of maps and the hard track or terrain intervals to have the speed. Most of all, it's getting out orienteering as much as possible, to make your brain expend minimal effort while figuring out orienteering puzzles.”

The sport of orienteering combines map reading, running, and not getting lost. Competitors have to find their way between a series of checkpoints, called controls, as quickly as possible and in the right order. Orienteers do not see the map of the course until the race starts, so there can be no advance planning of routes or control locations.

By day (or is it night?) Prof. Crocker is an astrophysicist who studies the cold gas and dust within nearby galaxies to learn more about how stars are formed. She earned a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Oxford and holds a bachelor degree in both physics and mathematics from Dartmouth.

At Reed she teaches astrophysics and general physics, and can be often seen (in a Doppler-shifted blur) running around the neighborhood with other Reed locomotorists. 

We wish her all the best at the world championships and will report back on her adventures in the Scottish Highlands!