Featured Alumna: Christiane McCabe '12

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Christiane explores Trollstienen, Svalbard and sees the sun for the first time in four months. 2 Courtesy of Christiane McCabe ’12

From Antarctica to Alaska, and from North Korea to Norway, Christiane McCabe ‘12 is an explorer of the natural world. Christiane is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in geology at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and is studying ‘soft’ geology which includes hydrology, geochemistry, water quality, and erosion. She is also fulfilling general education concentrations (GEC) in the subject areas ‘The Middle East in a Global Context’ and ‘Field Studies in the Natural Sciences.’
Christiane first discovered her interest in geology at Convent of the Sacred Heart. During her junior year, she participated in an antarctic expedition with the Canadian organization Students on Ice. She flew from New York to South America and then sailed across the Drake Passage to Antarctica. In December 2013, she visited Antarctica for a second time. Her antarctic expeditions allowed her to explore her passion for geology. 

Christiane explores Trollstienen, Svalbard and sees the sun for the first time in four months. 2 Courtesy of Christiane McCabe '12
Christiane explores Trollstienen, Svalbard and sees the sun for the first time in four months. 
Courtesy of Christiane McCabe ’12

Through her geology program at Bates, Christiane participated in the Juneau Icefield Research Program in the Alaskan wilderness. The U.S. Navy originally established the program to study the climate, glaciers, and alpine or polar environments to better fight the Soviet Union. Now a civilian program, Juneau Icefield Research teaches students about expeditionary field sciencesThe program also allowed her to ski from Juneau, Alaska to Atlin, British Columbia in Canada.
“We would ski anywhere from one to five miles, dig a four to eight meter pit through the snow and take density measurements. The snow was dense, but it was an unusually warm summer so we would always be able to see the mountains and expansive glaciers surrounding us, and it was always a good time. Afterwards we would ski back to our base camp for dinner and then on to our lectures,” Christiane said. “Despite all the long days of the hard work, this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I would without a doubt go back and do it again.”
Christiane skies in Larsbreen, Svalbard. Courtesy of Christiane McCabe '12
Christiane skies in Larsbreen, Svalbard.
Courtesy of Christiane McCabe ’12

Christiane spent her junior year abroad in Longyearbyen, Norway, at the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS). A Norwegian archipelago, Svalbard is located midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. There, she took a full year course in Arctic geology, and various classes on glacial sediments, geological history, and physical geography of Svalbard. 
“Svalbard is a unique place where you, yourself, are intimately immersed in nature, but a very stark and open landscape with no trees. You are able to see the world around you, unhindered and uninterrupted as far as your eye can reach,” Christiane said. “I have never been happier in my life. I was surrounded by like-minded people who had all wanted to be there. The town was a very close knit community, and the Norwegians have a beautiful and fascinating culture.”
Christiane McCabe '12 and Alexandra Murray '12 visit the Monument to Party Founding, Pyongyang, DPRK. Courtesy of Christiane McCabe '12
Christiane McCabe ’12 and Alexandra Murray ’12 visit the Monument to Party Founding, Pyongyang, DPRK.
Courtesy of Christiane McCabe ’12

Across the globe, Christiane spent a month in Beijing, China, and one week in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). As an auction prize, she won two tickets for the Grand Tour of the DPRK and travelled there with fellow Sacred Heart alumna Alexandra Murray ‘12. On the Grand Tour, they visited the International Friendship Exhibition, the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, the Mansu Hill Grand Monument, and an exhibition of caverns in the DPRK.
“There is a series of caverns that stretch deep beneath the mountains of the DPRK. With hand crank flashlights, we descended into the caves and saw magnificent crystals growing in all directions. My favorite tour guide, Mr. Lee, patiently held the flashlights that illuminated different objects so I could take photographs in the dark, while the other groups continued on into the cave,” Christiane said.
This past summer, Christiane completed research for her Bachelor’s thesis. The thesis focuses on the effect of late summer precipitation events on the chemistry of lake sediment in a permafrost environment. At her study site, Christiane looked at the chemical profile of the collected sediment and she determined the time at which the sediment entered the lake system.
In 2014, Christiane visited Upper School Honors Chemistry classes and shared stories from her arctic adventures.
“My love of polar regions was something that I cultivated myself throughout high school. However, the Sacred Heart teachers were all very accommodating to me when I wanted to take a week off at the end of Christmas break so I could travel to Antarctica. That was a lot harder to pull off during college,” Christiane said. “But I really must say, all of the Sacred Heart teachers do a spectacular job of preparing you for the future laying ahead.”
 – Arielle Kirven, Co-Arts and Entertainment Editor