Posts in: General News

Exploring the Watershed

Where Does Your Water Come From?

By Annabelle O’Neill ’19 and Rosa Mallorson ’20

“Where does your water come from?” asked Environmental Studies Program visiting faculty member Rory Cowie ’04 on the first day of class. Like the places we had yet to visit, our responses stretched far, from groundwater wells in Hawaii to water tanks above Philadelphia to snowmelt in the Rockies to pipes in New York City to “I don’t know where…”

Thus began EV 311, Water: Stream Ecology and Hydrology, a Block 8 course that took students to the San Juan Mountains where we studied water chemistry and the impacts of mining. The upper-level environmental science course, which allowed us to engage in meaningful field-based learning that included environmental science subject areas such as geology, chemistry, hydrology, ecology, climate, and human/ecosystem interactions through the analysis of rivers and water, included 14 students from several majors. This course is worth documenting because it embodies the boundless opportunity CC provides for its students to investigate the world’s workings. Cowie was a biology major at CC, so he knew how to balance lecture with field trips nearly every day. Here, we share some of what we learned in the class, while illustrating the beauty of students doing science in the San Juan Mountains.

Why We Care
CC teaches us to examine and tend to our sense of place, which includes the communities, lands, rivers, challenges, and cultures that exist in the Rockies. While many of our studies center in the Front Range, the San Juan Mountains are just six hours southwest of CC and provide much of the Front Range’s water resources.

Since Cowie is an EPA-contracted hydrologist who leads a water sampling project at Bonita Peak Mining District, the Superfund Site where the Gold King Mine, near Silverton, Colorado, spilled in 2015, our coursework focused on mining hydrology. The legacy of heavy metal mining, which boomed from 1870-1990, left nearly 23,000 abandoned mines in the San Juans.

When the surface area of rock containing trace minerals such as pyrite increases due to mine tunnel construction and contacts air and rising groundwater, pyrite’s ions oxidize and form acids in water. This water then flows out of mine tunnels and nearby springs into streams, which soon flow into major rivers that are comprised of watersheds shared by seven states, 12 Native American tribes, millions of people, and vital aquatic life.

The Challenge: Five Watersheds in Five Days
We embarked on a weeklong field trip in the San Juans, studying five watersheds in five days. The trip followed two weeks of theory and practice in hydrology, mine water chemistry, stream ecology, agriculture, development, and snow science. We examined four Legacy and EPA Superfund mines with mandated clean-up, one active mine, and two major active water treatment facilities.

The trip also provided us with diverse data sets that we compiled for our final projects. Our task was to collect stream flow measurements, water quality parameters, and habitat assessments coupled with USGS historic data and lessons from experts we met along the way. This data provided evidence to compare watershed health across the San Juans and extrapolate to the entire Southwestern water regime, which eventually converges with the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Trip Log:
Day 1: Uncompahgre Watershed
Discharge and water quality parameters collected in Ridgeway, Colorado
Underground mine tour of Ouray Silver Mines and biomass filtration system
Evening soak at Ouray Hot Springs

Day 2: San Miguel Watershed
Observations of diverse, underlying geology that influences ion-availability in the rivers at the Idarado Mine passive water treatment facility
Appreciation of beavers’ tenacity and ecosystem health value
Habitat assessment of Telluride Valley Floor with Scott Johnson of the Mountain Studies Institute and Laurel Sebastian ’16

Day 3: Animas Watershed
Tour of Gladstone Temporary Wastewater Treatment Plant and Bonita Peak Superfund Site above Silverton, Colorado. Active mine water treatment requires lime, a polymer, large conical holding chambers, and the storage of heavy metal “sludge” to purify acidic and metal-loaded water
Examination of outpouring of American Tunnel and flumes at lower elevations measuring discharge
Water quality and discharge sampling of heavily impacted streams (pH ~4) during a blizzard!

Day 4: San Juan Watershed
Forest ecology lesson in Durango, Colorado
Wolf Creek Ski Resort forest health assessment
Lots of driving
Evening soak at Pagosa Hot Springs

Day 5: Rio Grande Watershed
Mining conference in Creede, Colorado
Visit to Bachelor Mountain, the Nelson Tunnel, and multiple mine portals at a Legacy mine on the Amethyst Fault in the Bachelor Caldera
Examination of discharge and water quality parameters at Willow Creek, which includes untreated water from the Nelson Tunnel
Tour of Summitville Mine Superfund site including the active water treatment facility of the open-pit mine using a high-density sludge process, ultimately purifying the water of a large quantity of metals
Analysis of San Luis Valley agricultural impacts
Data analysis and creation of final watershed report cards

FUN FACTS

  • A historic, large rock drill is difficult and heavy to hold! Rock-drill competitions still occur in Creede, Colorado, to showcase miners’ talent.
  • Beavers can plug up and flood wetlands by building dams of sticks. However, they can be deceived with large wire nets over drains called “beaver deceivers.”
  • Fire suppression has had detrimental effects on forest health and allowed the pine beetle to infiltrate Colorado’s forests.

Our class expresses gratitude to Cowie, Technical Director Darren Ceckanowicz, and Paraprofessional Hanna Ewell ’17 for teaching us how to do science, have fun, and be a team.

Annabelle O’Neill ’19 and Rosa Mallorson ’20 are biochemistry majors at Colorado College.

Incline is No Walk in the Park

Annie Engen ’19, who worked for the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department this summer through Colorado College’s Public Interest Fellowship Program, undertook a side project that will be seen by hundreds of fitness enthusiasts. A mathematical economics major and Environmental Studies minor from Minneapolis, her project helped connect the dots between mathematics, a local hiking trail, and world-famous landmarks.

Engen created a safety sign for the Manitou Incline, a perpendicular trail on the remains of a former narrow gauge railway whose tracks washed out during a rock slide in 1990. The Incline, which gains more than 2,000 feet of elevation in less than a mile, has an average grade of 45 percent and is as steep as 68 percent in some places.

Engen’s sign lets people know that hiking the Incline “is not a walk in the park.” To put the Incline’s 2,744 steps in perspective, Engen’s sign notes that hiking the Incline is comparable to climbing the Eiffel Tower (twice), the Washington Monument (three times), the Statue of Liberty (six times), or the Empire State Building (once).

Read more about Engen’s PIFP work here.

 

A View from the Monument Creek Restoration Project

By David Sachs ’20

The Monument Creek Restoration Project is a collaboration between the State of the Rockies Project and Innovation at Colorado College, with support from the Geology Department and the GIS Lab. Inspired by Colorado Springs’ founding principles and Colorado College’s strategic plan, the aim of the project is to create a model framework for the kilometer-long stretch of Monument Creek that forms the western border of campus.

In this phase of the project the team is using a method for research, planning, and design known as geodesign. Geodesign is a multifaceted approach that aims to account for the myriad of factors at play when revitalizing a given area. While traditional planning methods typically focus on research and data aggregation for a specific feature, geodesign relies on a more holistic set of information. This can range from environmental and socio-economic data, to feedback and input from community stakeholders.

This summer, I and a team of two other interns are conducting a pilot study in the stretch of Monument Creek running from the Uintah overpass to the Mesa Bridge a kilometer south. We have been tasked with collecting stream-bed topography at various points along the reach. In addition, we are building a catalog of various elements in the riparian landscape, gathering data on everything from vegetation to extended human presence. The project has provided us the opportunity to meet with various city planners, Colorado Springs Utilities, and other local creek patrons in order to build a deeper understanding of their concerns and more broadly, how Monument Creek is utilized in its present state. Going forward, the team will visualize our data in industry standard GIS software, which provides powerful analytic tools, enabling us to identify key areas for redesign.

Following the data collection and analysis phase, the other interns and I will shift the focus of our work to a GIS modeling software which allows designers to model buildings and vegetation in conjunction with preexisting conditions. The team will attempt to create a plan which can improve storm water quality, aide in flood mitigation, and restore degraded ecological systems. The plan will also seek to create a stronger connection between the creek and the Colorado College campus, enabling further education on hydrology and riparian landscapes in our own backyard. For me, this is one of the most compelling components of the project. By using detailed geospatial data as the framework for design creation, we have the opportunity to achieve a powerful synthesis of science and creativity which truly represents the potency of a liberal arts education. Knowing that down the line our work may help enable a positive change in our community is icing on the cake. Our project parallels ongoing work being done by the Fountain Creek Watershed District, Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation, and The Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

The models and data generated this summer will be used and refined by CC’s Introduction to Geodesign course, which is being offered in Block 8, 2019. Students in this class will have the opportunity to learn the geodesign method and continue conversations with community stakeholders in order to develop models which may be presented to decision makers both on campus, and within city government.

While the work being done here is local, the scope of the project is far greater. The Monument Creek Restoration Plan will be Colorado College’s flagship contribution to Changing our Global Infrastructure, a geodesign collaboration among academic institutions worldwide. Colorado College’s focus on digital liberal arts, and early adoption of the geodesign methodology has enabled CC to be the only four-year liberal arts college to participate. This international Geodesign consortium aims to create a diverse body of work, showcasing the capabilities of the new methodology. Areas of study range from urban centers to wilderness, and initial work will be presented at the International Geodesign Conference in February 2019. Our Geodesign at Colorado College project will also be presenting a poster in September at GIS in the Rockies, the premier geospatial conference of the Rocky Mountain west. Through these conferences we hope to hone our presentation skill as well as gain insight into other implementations of the informational technologies through which we work.

For more information please visit our website.

Student interns are:

  • David Sachs, senior, Interdisciplinary Major
  • Will Rundquist, senior, Geology Major
  • Darryl Filmore, junior, Computer Science Major

Collaborators/mentors are:

  • Christine Siddoway, Geology Professor
  • Matt Cooney, GIS Technical Director
  • Cyndy Hines, Program Coordinator, Innovation and SOTR, with expertise in stream ecology and hydrology

 

 

Human Anatomy Class Leverages Unique Resources for Lifelong Learning

by Laurie Laker ’12

The study of the human body at Colorado College is something of a unique opportunity for an undergraduate student body. CC is one of the very few colleges in the country, particularly among our liberal arts peer schools, where students can immerse themselves fully in the study of the human anatomy, applying their classroom theory with real-world practice.

“We’re extremely careful about how we present the anatomy lab, what we say about the lab, because we want to be as respectful as possible to the donors,” explains Professor Dan Miska of the Human Biology and Kinesiology Department.

‘Donors’ is the language of the department and all those who move through their classes, rooted in respect for the persons who’ve donated their bodies to scientific teaching and research. The class Introduction to Human Anatomy, running this Block A, lets students gain an understanding of the fundamental concepts of human anatomy, and includes the examination of skeletal, muscular, nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory structures.

“I’d estimate that 90 percent of our students go on to some form of medical program,” Miska adds. “Anatomy has the reputation of being all about memorization, but what we try to teach here is the true applicability of the material — to the clinical work of a future career.”

“For example, with certain diagnoses we bring socioeconomic issues into our discussions as well. Cases like heart attacks, for example, often hinge upon diet and exercise, which in turn frequently hinge on the socioeconomic status of the patient,” adds Miska. “It’s a clinical class, but with applicable knowledge and social awareness woven throughout.”

The class is a combination of clinical study modules and laboratory sessions, and students work in small groups to diagnose a hypothetical injury or condition using the methodology of clinicians — asking questions, noting patients’ medical histories, and then offering a possible diagnosis.

“I’m taking this partly for my major, partly because it’s super interesting,” says Nabeel Elabdeia ’20, who majors in Organismal Biology and Ecology.

“It’s so different from the textbook type of class, a lot more messy — just like real life medical practice.”

“This kind of work — particularly with the donors — it makes me think about real doctors, how difficult it is to diagnose real people. I was a bit nervous at first, but you soon learn to dissociate from the personal and treat it as a learning experience.” Elabdeia, who plans to head to dental school after CC, adds.

“It’s not just checking a box,” Miska details, expanding more on the longer-term goals of the class.

“Students take this because it’s going to follow you in life, to set you up for what you’re doing for a career — these are practical life skills for impactful careers, and that we can offer the practical skills of body diagnosis at the undergrad level is incredible. It gives our students such a head start when they head to med school after CC.”

Nerves are commonplace among students before heading to the lab for the first time — understandably so, given the nature of the material. But it’s no deterrent — the clinical experience of examining a human body and all its systems is often the chief attraction for students taking the class.

“I was anxious but excited for the lab before we went in,” explains undeclared major Julia Moore ’20, who is on the Molecular Biology track and minoring in Human Biology and Kinesiology. “To be honest, it was very much a ‘let’s get this first one over with’ scenario. We get to see this, to do this, from the first day of class, and that’s amazing.”

“It’s a very, very respectful space, aware of the donors and their wishes, and having access to this sort of facility is quite unique for an undergraduate experience,” she says.

“I actually visited the lab as a prospective student, and it’s one of the reasons I came to CC — it’s a special thing that undergrads don’t always get to do,” adds Moore’s lab group partner, Rianna Reimers ’19, a Molecular Biology major who’ll be interning with a genetics lab in her home state of California after the class finishes.

“The way Dan presents the class, and especially the interactions we have with the donors, it’s amazing — respect is the utmost important thing. He even said, on day one, ‘These (meaning the donors) are the four best anatomy teachers you’ll ever have’ — that’s really stuck with me.”

Dan Miska’s Block A Human Anatomy class discusses a case study and views a carpal tunnel surgery online to learn more about the mechanics of a hand to better diagnose treatment.

Hairstreak Butterfly, CC’s New Online Literary Journal

hairstreak butterfly

Hairstreak Butterfly Review,named after the official Colorado state insect, embraces CC’s aspiration to invite innovation and possibility into our understanding of the world. Launched by the Department of English, the online literary journal’s editors describe their mission as offering “a space for writing that stirs the senses and invokes things wild, sacred, daring, and visionary. We are as excited about feeling out the limits of genre, language, perspective, and narratives as we are about the careful rendering of that which makes humans human and keeps time waxing and waning.” Take a look at Issue 1.

Assistant Professor of English Natanya Pulley is the journal’s managing editor. She says that when imagining a literary journal for CC, she asked herself two things: Does the world need yet another literary journal? and What can it offer our students that they aren’t already experiencing in student-run publications, through our Visiting Writer Series’ events and class talks, or through discussion (in-class and one-on-one) about contemporary literary publishing?

“I’ve been editing literary journals for the last 10 or so years and find it is an essential part of being a contemporary writer. One can read the trends before they hit the bookstores and find emerging and marginalized voices that may not find a publisher for some time.” Pulley also says that reading submissions for the journal means encountering not only a wide spectrum of styles, perspectives, and content, but also reading underdeveloped work or writing that feels so close — but not enough — to complete.

“It means confronting writing that is clumsy, hollow, amateurish, offensive, unimaginative, or worse: average,” she says. “This exposure ultimately helps a writer identify their own weaknesses and limitations, and even face their fear of failing while also finding their strengths and readership.”

There are a multitude of writing programs with nationwide literary journals that build the student editorial experience with exactly these areas in mind, says Pulley. “My goal has always been to provide such an opportunity for our students, but I returned often to that first question as I began planning a ‘Literary Publishing Practicum’ adjunct and in my discussions with students and visitors about literary journal publishing,” Pulley says of getting this project started. “Our students are innovative, hardworking, and inquisitive people. Many love writing and reading; they read to escape, be challenged, learn, and see themselves reflected in the words of others. But they also want to build spaces for change and growth — they want to be a part of something important that is inclusive and supportive of marginalized people.”

While the journal increases the number of publications in the literary world as well as at CC, Pulley says her vision for it has been not only to deepen students’ connection with the literary industry and their own role as writers within that industry, but also to deepen work in diversity and inclusion by asking what it takes behind the scenes for marginalized voices to be seen and heard.

“How do we build such an infrastructure?  What are we looking for when we read submissions? What do we see or look for when reading published work and what does this say about how we conceive of the world?” Pulley says of the questions she asks throughout the process of putting the journal together. “What does our understanding of ‘good writing’ rely on and how did it come to be? How can we be proactive about inviting and honoring work by writers of color, LGBTQ writers, and writers with disabilities? And most importantly, how do we interrogate our own choices in building this space and structure? What questions of about our own positions and views must we embrace — not once, but every moment we read submissions and edit, communicate with, publish, and promote our contributors?”

The literary journal, and the Lit Pub Practicum Pulley teaches, offer students an opportunity to tackle these questions and toward a specific purpose. “We work to put something out there that we hope speaks to and teaches others as it has us,” she says. “This is why the world needs literary journals — thousands of different kinds: we must always ask ourselves which narratives, voices, perspectives, and images do we find essential to understanding our world today? And at CC we must ask how do we best amplify them?” Spend some time with Hairstreak Butterfly Review.

Test Yourself with a New Game of Skill: Bridge

Summer Bridge Open Play

When’s the last time you tried something new? Something complicated? You’ll have the chance on campus this summer with a new program to teach and play (and eventually master?) the strategic card game, bridge.

Phoebe Lostroh, associate professor of molecular biology, is leading the effort to bring this challenging game to campus. “It is a way for us to learn together and play together this summer,” she says. “It’s open to students, faculty, and staff. I’m also trying to get the local high school to participate, especially to bring disadvantaged students on to campus to meet college students. Bridge can be played by anyone and everyone — and in fact it is played all over the world.”

Check out http://www.worldbridge.org with the motto “Bridge for Peace.”

“I’m very interested in activities that make better local communities, and that help people feel connected to one another across boundaries like citizenship and religion,” she says. “Toward that goal, I am working with a local bridge center of primarily senior citizens who will help teach and mentor anyone on campus who wants to learn the game.”Local bridge masters John Dukelis and Ann Parker both are retired K-12 teachers and part of the American Contract Bridge League Unit 360.

Lostroh also cites research on K-12 students, which shows that playing bridge improves communication and conflict-resolution skills.

Bridge is a four-person card game with similarity to spades, hearts, euchre, and pitch. Pairs of players sitting on opposite sides of a table compete to take the most tricks (which consist of four cards, one from each player in turn), or to defeat the other pair from taking as many tricks as they had planned. Before any cards are played, there is a complex negotiation, called bidding, to arrive at the contract, which determines the number of tricks one pair must try to make as well as the suit that will be the most powerful during the play of the hand. You have to count cards, and you have to consider the odds of an important unseen card being in one of the other hands. Lostroh points out there are no shortcuts to becoming an expert bridge player.

Lostroh says she was inspired to start up a bridge group on campus afterreflecting on her own experience learning the complex card game. “There are many parallels between learning bridge and learning in college,” she says. “In addition to practicing, it pays to listen to experts and to study, and to avoid getting distracted by charlatans who claim they’ve found an easier, faster way.  You have to play the hand you’re dealt. Sometimes that means you get the most organized biology professor in the department — sometimes not. Sometimes the hand is perfect for the new bid you that your partner just learned — sometimes not. Either way, the only way forward is to keep trying.”

Participate in the kick-off event Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Tutt Library Room 105; open play is happening every Wednesday in June and July, 6-8 p.m. in Worner Campus Center.

Congratulations to 2018-19 PIFP Fellows

PIFP Fellows

The Public Interest Fellowship Program is pleased to announce the incoming cohort of PIFP fellows. Below, meet this year’s fellows and learn which partner organizations they will be working with during the upcoming summer and year. PIFP offers paid summer and yearlong fellowships to CC students and graduates. This pipeline to nonprofit partner organizations provides fellows with significant experience, specialized training and mentoring, and the opportunity to make a difference in the issues facing our state and community. Over the past 15 years, PIFP has placed nearly 400 fellows and worked with 80 partner organizations.

Yearlong Fellows

Helen Griffiths ACLU of Colorado
Rowan Frederiksen Arc–Pikes Peak Region
Dorsa Djalilzadeh Bell Policy Center
Duranya Freeman CO Center on Law & Policy
Savanah McDaniel CO Consumer Health Initiative (policy)
Isabelle Nathanson CO Consumer Health Initiative (outreach)
Asheton Gilbertson Conservation Colorado
Amelia (Mimi) Smith Denver Scholarship Foundation
Salem Tewelde Denver Scholarship Foundation
Tia Phillip DSST Public Schools
Rachael Maxwell Innovations in Aging Collaborative
Naomi Randell OMNI Institute
Caroline Olin TESSA
Delaney Tight Volunteers for Outdoor CO

Summer Fellows

Jacqueline Nkhonjera ACLU of Colorado
Maria Cortner Arc of the Pikes Peak Reg
Bianca Lydia Thomas Atlas Preparatory School
Max Blackburn Atlas Preparatory School
Graham Campson Catamount Institute
Annie Engen City of Colorado Springs
Abe Lahr CO Dept Health Care Policy & Financing
Hannah Schultz CO Dept Health Care Policy & Financing
Maggie Mehlman CO League of Charter Schools
Carolyn Best Fountain Creek Watershed District
Jasmin Thibou Gill Foundation
Carter Eng Greenway Fund
Anna Smith NCSL Communications Div.
Meg DeMarsh NCSL Education Program
Riley Hutchings NCSL Energy, Environment & Transportation Program
Annie Zlevor NCSL Health Program
Alison Takkunen NCSL Health Program
Kendall Stoetzer One Colorado Education Fund
Hannah Pardee Palmer Land Trust
Alison Baird PEAK Parent Center
Logan Coleman ProgressNow Colorado Education
Mark Scaggs Towards Justice

Charge On, Tigers

EV Charger

CC has taken another step toward the goal of expanding its electric vehicle infrastructure to make charging more accessible campus wide.

CC has installed a dual-head (two-car capacity) ChargePoint electric vehicle charger just north of Tutt Library. The parking is open to members of the CC community and outside community members, as it is on the national ChargePoint network. The cost per hour to charge is 75 cents.

“Now that there are more electric vehicles on the roads and higher demand for charging facilities, it made sense to upgrade to the newest system, so now we’ll have more charging spaces,” says Ian Johnson, director of the Office of Sustainability.

Jim Burness ’90, CEO of National Car Charging, cut the ribbon on the new electric vehicle charger as part of the Earth Week celebrations. Burness’s company is working to improve the electric vehicle infrastructure in cities like Colorado Springs.

The company has worked on projects across the nation to jumpstart electric vehicle use by providing the necessary infrastructure. Burness says he’s passionate and enthusiastic about this issue in Colorado Springs and even helped CC use tax credit savings to subsidize the new charging station.

Ella Axelrod ’19 Uncovers Artifacts and Passion for Archaeology

Ella Axelrod on archeological dig site

By Alana Aamodt ’18

Some students enter college with an inkling of what they want to study, and Ella Axelrod ’19, was no different: they had a sneaking suspicion of their interest in archaeology after participating on an archaeology field trip in eighth grade. At CC, Axelrod dove in head first, talking their way into Professor Ruth Van Dyke’s archaeology class right after finishing their FYE, a 300-level class that took place in Castroville, Texas, north of San Antonio. The class sought to find signs of the early Alsacean settlements, built by Henri Castro and the French people he brought to the area in the mid 1840’s.

“This was a hard crash-course in archaeology for me,” describes Axelrod, only a first-year student at the time. “It was physically demanding, [with days spent] often crouched down, carefully removing layer by layer of dirt to look for features, hauling wheelbarrows or five-gallon buckets to screening stations, and sifting through the dirt for artifacts.” Despite the intensity of the class, Axelrod confirmed their love of archaeology and has been studying anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology ever since.

The following summer, Axelrod took a class in their home state of Hawaii, at the University of Hawaii West Oahu, working with a team to help uncover a World War II prisoner of war and citizen internment camp in western central Oahu. This dig was no easy feat either. Axelrod describes searching beneath vegetation for concrete left from the camp and the high temperatures: “The valley we were working in was literally nicknamed ‘Jigoku Dani’ or ‘Hell Valley’ by the Japanese-American citizens who were imprisoned there.” When people think of archaeology they often imagine unearthing dinosaur bones and forgotten civilizations; Axelrod proves that we have much to discover about even recent events. According to them, “going back and finding such difficulty in reconstructing something that seems like it should be recent, memorable history was significant and really highlighted to me how much we don’t realize about the history in our own backyard.”

The emotional and historical significance of this work was highlighted on the trip one lunch break. As Axelrod describes, “after a few days of surveying, while breaking for lunch on a hilltop, we noticed three flowering trees planted in a straight line, about on the border of the civilian side of the camp. Over 70 years ago, some unknown prisoner here probably planted those as an attempt to improve their living conditions in the almost shadeless, sweltering valley. For me, it highlighted the lasting impact we have on our environment and the archaeological record and the human aspect of what happened there.”

Axelrod’s next excavation would take them to the opposite side of the world from Hawaii, to Buysscheure, France. Over the course of the summers of 2016 and 2017, Axelrod would work as the youngest member and only undergraduate on a team of archaeologists set to find and recover the remains of Frank Fazekas, a pilot who was shot down in 1944. Just as labor-intensive as their previous expeditions, Axelrod describes their time in France: “I spent the majority of my first visit to France in a 15-foot deep, muddy hole pulling out countless twisted hunks of metal that used to be a plane and hoping to find the remains of its pilot, a man not much older than myself.” The task was as steeped in meaning as the dig in Hawaii: To bring a man’s remains home to his family. After two summers, many hours, befriending the older French couple across the street who didn’t speak English, and some rain that turned the dirt to mud, their hard work paid off. “Being there while we scrubbed 72-years’ worth of dirt of off what used to be wing-mounted machine guns and finally having confirmation that we found what we were looking for was like watching the puzzle pieces click into place.” Further digging eventually revealed Fazekas’s remains, which were removed and returned to his family.

Axelrod’s most recent archaeological endeavor took them to the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado near CC’s Baca Campus during Block 2. Professor Scott Ingram, of whom Axelrod “cannot speak highly enough,” taught the CC class titled Field Archaeology, which worked with the National Forest Service to survey a potential part of the Old Spanish Trail. One of the highlights of the trip according to Axelrod was “finding manos and metates, which are artifacts associated with food processing that, potentially, hadn’t been touched by another human in hundreds of years and were just lying on the ground.” Axelrod goes on, “Holding the traces of the people who lived here before any of us was an immensely humbling experience.”

Needless to say, this won’t be their last dig. Continuing their pattern of hard work and determination, Axelrod plans to continue pursuing their archaeological career at Colorado College and beyond.

Jeremy Zucker ’18 Prepping for Graduation and World Tour

Jeremy Zucker '18

By Alana Aamodt ’18

For any student, studying on the Block Plan is a major balancing act — fast paced and sometimes stressful, it all leads to those four days of block break when students can finally take that long awaited nap, hop in a car and drive to the desert, explore Denver or, in the case of Jeremy Zucker ’18, travel the country and perform music. Maybe they’re not your typical block breaks, but Zucker has spent his time at CC fostering a music career right alongside a molecular and cellular biology major.

Signed to Republic Records, Zucker has seen a growing following over the past few years with songs on his most recent album “idle” garnering millions of plays on Spotify, You Tube, and SoundCloud. Zucker’s record label, which has also signed artists such as Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Drake, describes his music as a “fusion of organic airy beats, lush soundtrack-style soundscapes, and biting Tumblr-worthy lyricism, Zucker’s catalog is eclectic: equally carefree and effortless as it is introspectively cathartic.”

Singer, songwriter, producer, and student, the balancing act is not easy, says Zucker. “Honestly, the deeper I get into my major the harder it gets to balance school with music. I couldn’t imagine doing it at any other school; often times I’ll fly out and do a couple shows over a block break or just stay at home in the studio I built in my basement and make music nonstop for five days. The way my mind works, I need to be able to focus my attention and effort on one thing at a time or I’ll go crazy,” he says, citing the Block Plan as the main way he is able to do both.

Zucker has been making music since middle school, consistently releasing songs on various platforms. His hard work and determination have paid off, and he has big plans coming up: Zucker is embarking on a European tour in April with the artist Lauv, a good friend of his, as well as appearing at the Firefly Music Festival, the East Coast’s largest music and camping festival in Dover, Delaware, in June.

“As my outlook on life changes and evolves, so do my songs,” Zucker says. “My process is really cathartic. I find myself digging through my subconscious, picking out feelings, fears, and hopes that I didn’t even know I had.” Even with graduation and a European tour approaching, Zucker will continue to create music. Listen to some of Zucker’s music and check out his tour dates.