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To the Extreme

To the Extreme
Not all classrooms are created equal. During her intersession course, “Extreme Physiology,” Michelle Graham ’15 takes in a spectacular view in Sedona, Ariz. Photo taken by classmate Alexander “Bow” Arrow ’14. (Don't miss our other striking images! Click on the 'Web Exclusive Photos' link below.)

Intersession Course Exposes Students to Arizona’s Diverse Climate

Earning three credits has never been more breathtaking. The photographs you see are a sampling of images provided by the participants in the University’s intersession travel course “BIOL 395 – Extreme Physiology.”

During the three-plus-week biology course, 10 students, led by Terrence Sweeney, Ph.D., professor of biology, and Tara Fay, faculty specialist, examined the stunning and diverse environments of Arizona, investigating human physiological adaptation to extreme environmental and aerobic challenges. 

Utilizing the students as both subjects and investigators, challenges included exposure to the desert environment, prolonged bouts of exercise – including a 30-mile bike ride – and extensive changes in altitude. A top-to-bottom hike of the Grand Canyon highlighted this year’s course, and included an overnight stay at the canyon’s Phantom Ranch. “That trip allowed me to see why the Grand Canyon is considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world,” says Eric Brazon ’14.

Through the classroom work, long van rides, exercises, meal preparation and family-style dinners, the students and faculty explain that an obvious bond developed. “The friendships and the family ties that were made on this trip honestly will always make me smile,” says Gregory Stonier ’15.

Make sure to click on the "Web Exclusive Photos" link for more photographs from Arizona. A special thanks to Terrence Sweeney, Ph.D., Tara Fay, Alexander Arrow ’14 and Nick Cucci ’14 for sharing their striking images.

In Their Words: 
Students Discuss Extreme Physiology Course

The following section consists of journal entries from six students who participated in the "Extreme Physiology" course. Each student was asked to describe three memorable experiences from their time in Arizona.

Alexander (Bow) Arrow ’14:
My favorite part about the trip was meeting and living with my classmates and professors. I shared all of my most memorable experiences in Arizona with them and have come to love them all. I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to meet them and am so glad to have a new family.

Another aspect of the trip I liked was the Grand Canyon trip. Staying at Phantom Ranch and seeing all the incredible views the Grand Canyon offers was awesome. I also really enjoyed mountain biking. Although I fell a thousand times (and have the scrapes and bruises to show for it), biking in that terrain was a huge adrenaline rush.

Eric Brazon ’14
Three memorable experiences I had over this trip were the hike up Finger Rock, the trip to the Grand Canyon, and the 30-mile bike ride. I found our hiking trip to be both challenging and fulfilling. The hike will always remain with me, in the fact it was something I would have never experienced nor tried without your input. To be sitting on ledge of a mountain eating lunch and viewing Tucson was amazing. The trip to Grand Canyon took my breath away. That trip allowed me to see why it is considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world. In viewing the Grand Canyon from top to bottom, I was able to see millions of years of Mother Nature’s work. My last memorable experience was the 30-mile bike ride. I have to say it was my favorite activity! I loved the challenge and the satisfaction of riding that distance up and down hills, even though it was painful.

Michelle Graham ’15
1) Hiking down the Grand Canyon was an amazing experience. Looking out at it for the first time was awe-inspiring. Looking out at it for the last time after having hiked the whole thing was even better. When I flip through the pictures, I still can't believe we went from top to bottom and back up. Also, staying with everyone at Phantom Ranch, with no cell service, completely disconnected, was a great experience and so much fun. I think we would all agree that we bonded a lot those two days camping out together. 

2) Sedona was particularly memorable. The rocks were beautiful and we had a great hike/upward climb up Cathedral Rock. Also, the mountain biking there was incredible. Not only were the bikes the most expensive I have ever ridden on before with dual suspension, but the trails were so exhilarating. I went off ledges and down steep trails that I never thought the bike could handle and never thought I had the courage to do. However, I was having so much fun on this trip I found the daredevil inside me and went for it and I don't regret a thing (especially rock climbing up the Seven Falls).

3) Every memorable experience on this trip comes down to the people we were with. Everyone was so friendly and got along so well, students as well as teachers. I think the fact that we called our professors Mom and Dad, and people asked us if we were all brothers and sisters is a good indication of how close we all became. It created such a great atmosphere because we could crack jokes at each other and have a great time whether we were in the classroom, on a long van ride, or doing some extreme exercise. Even cooking dinner every night was a blast because of the group dynamic. Simply put, we all worked well together, we had a blast together, and we're all very close now because of it. (I also am really happy about the cooking skills I learned on this trip because I was completely clueless beforehand.)

Margaret Mester ’14
There are too many to choose from! Certainly hiking down to Phantom Ranch was an unforgettable experience. The fulfillment of getting out of the Canyon on the second day was indescribable. Skiing the “beginner”" (NOT BUNNY) slope for my first time ever on skis was absolutely terrifying, but a great time despite falling with every turn for the first run. In addition, learning to cook more Southwestern dishes and having our family dinners every night made the trip all the better!

Adriana Nurkiewicz ’13
Having celebrated my birthday during the trip, one of my most memorable moments was seeing how caring and giving everyone was for my birthday! It really made me feel like I was at home with my family.

Hiking the Grand Canyon was an once-in-a-lifetime experience. I've never felt such a sense of physical accomplishment in my life! It was probably one of the most strenuous activities I've ever done, and it was pretty miserable finishing the hike, but looking back on the experience, I wouldn't change a thing about it!

The third most memorable moment would have to be mountain biking. At first I was deathly afraid of doing it because I thought I would get seriously injured, but once we started biking I was able to let go of any fear I had and thoroughly enjoy the ride.

Gregory Stonier ’15
Learning how to mountain bike was probably my most favorite memory from this trip. I now understand why Tara Fay loves it so much. Hiking the Grand Canyon was truly incredible. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The friendships and the family ties that were made on this trip honestly will always make me smile. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. I can't wait to see everyone back on campus.

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