Michelle Bricker's eyes light up as she talks about the field she loves, probably not any different than Ira "Ed" Odom did when he stood in the same place 40 years ago lecturing to a classroom of young geologists. Growing up in Southern California, Bricker's environment opened the door to her first research. "We use to go out into the desert and poke around for all sorts of rocks and minerals," Michelle says.
Later, a community college professor hooked her on geology. "He made it fun and took the time to challenge me," she says. Marriage, a family, and moving cross-country delayed Bricker's studies, but at age 35 she was ready to move ahead and attend NIU despite some challenges. "I've had to sacrifice a second income to do this, so the Odom scholarship really helps," Michelle says.
With financial concerns eased a bit, Bricker can focus on her research—studying the solubility of the mineral fluorite. "If we can define the temperature and pressure at which fluorite will dissolve—we can look at areas of the earth where it might naturally be found," she says. That's useful information for the steel industry, which relies on fluorite.
Odom's family is happy to know that his passion is living on in the work of students like Bricker who share his love of geology.
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