State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Follow Along on a Bicycle Tour That Teaches About Hudson Valley’s Glacial History

cyclist with mountains in background
PhD student Elizabeth Hillary Case reluctantly rides away from the Grand Tetons on a 2015 Cycle for Science trip across the country.

By Elizabeth Hillary Case

This is the first of three blog posts documenting a bicycle trip through the Hudson Valley, led by Columbia University PhD student Elizabeth Hillary Case. Read the second post here, and the third here.

Hello! I’m Elizabeth, a PhD student at Columbia University and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and I study how glaciers form and flow. For the next week (October 7-11), I will be riding my bicycle from New York City north through the Hudson Valley to Poughkeepsie, NY. I’ll be following the 18,000-year-old footsteps of the retreating Laurentide Ice Sheet, which buried this area under a mile of ice during the last ice age.

Along the way, I’ll be stopping at schools to teach hands-on lessons about the Laurentide Ice Sheet, how it helped shape the Hudson River, and how we use our past to understand our future. I’m excited to share with you adventures along the way — you can follow along here on State of the Planet.

This trip is a program of Cycle for Science, an organization I co-founded in 2015 with Rachel Woods-Robinson from UC-Berkeley, when we rode across the United States teaching lessons about renewable energy using miniature, solar-powered, 3D-printed bicycles. We cycled alongside wild horses, came face-to-face with a grizzly in the Tetons, and reached over 1,000 students in 8 states.

students play with solar powered bicycle
Students learn about solar energy and how to make simple circuits through the Sol Cycle in New York City. Photo: Elizabeth Hillary Case

The goal of Cycle for Science is to create interactive lessons related to the work of early-career scientists. It’s an effort to introduce students to the creativity, diversity and urgency of climate- and renewable energy-related research, while both literally and figuratively meeting communities where they are.

If you’d like a taste of a previous trip, check out our September program. As the climate marches swept the world, Rachel reached the ocean on a different Cycle for Science trip pedaling through the Netherlands.

If you’d like to get in touch, email me at You can learn more about Cycle for Science at

See you on the road!

Columbia campus skyline with text Columbia Climate School Class Day 2024 - Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations to our Columbia Climate School MA in Climate & Society Class of 2024! Learn about our May 10 Class Day celebration. #ColumbiaClimate2024

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Dr. Dave
4 years ago

This sounds like an amazing trip and experience. I wish I had access to a program like this…and, well, be able to take the time to do it. I’ve always liked reading about the region’s natural history including its glacial history.