Eliot Circular

Astrophysicist is Orienteering Star

Photo by Tom Humphrey

Prof. Alison Crocker [physics] is world-class orienteer.

Prof. Alison Crocker [physics 2014–] came in 15th in the women’s sprint final at the 2015 World Orienteering Championships, the best individual result ever achieved by a US orienteer at the world level.

Prof. Crocker’s stellar performance came despite an initial stumble, when she misread the map and found herself on the wrong side of a stone wall, losing roughly 20 seconds. “Not a perfect race, but I was feisty after an early mistake and that did the job!” she wrote after the race.

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’s 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 campus with other Reed locomotorists.