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Showing posts from 2014

Carol Vesely: Mother, Scholar, and Caver

Vesely, at the time was forty-one when Andrew Todhunter quoted caving historian Ernst Kastning in his 1998 article saying that she was "the epitome of the gung-ho woman caver in this country ... right there with the best of the men ... [and] can outdo a lot of them." In her twenty-one year cave resume at the time she had already made at least a thousand trips to 350 caves and 15 countries. She was the chair of the National Speleological Society's Survey and Cartography Section and had surveyed more than 75 miles of underground passage worldwide.
Until that time, Vesely worked as a substitute teacher in Monrovia, CA, and was a dissertation shy of a Ph.D. in cognitive developmental psychology. She held two part-time jobs too but changed that when she became a full-time mother. Her two-year-old son, Brian and husband would wait above ground to support her leadership underground.

Before Brian's birth, Vesely caved three months a year; averaging fifty or s…

Tech companies work to attract women to STEM sciences

“We need more girls and women to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). There just has to be a heightened awareness ... It just takes all of us shouting on the topic.” Nicole Anderson, the executive director of philanthropy at AT&T said. Fifty-seven percent of girls said if they pursued a STEM career they would have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously, found a recent study of girls and STEM careers by The Girl Scout Research Institute found. Suzanne Harper, chief girl experience innovator for Girl Scouts said that science courses don’t teach how STEM careers improve the world and this lacking information keeps female students from pursuing science careers. Influncers "tend to push girls toward fields that are not STEM fields” Nixon-Saintil, director of education for the Verizon Foundation said. Three quarters of middle-school aged girls express an interest in science yet less than one percent of high-school aged women select computer sci…

Nath (Nathalie) Lasselin

Lasselin is a technical diving instructor with numerous certifications and a revered, award-winning photo director who specializes in underwater filming. Her films have been critically acclaimed and have received numerous awards at international festivals as well as having been released on DVD and television in over 25 countries.

In 1995 she founded "Pixnat Productions," a photo direction rental equipment company that specializes in underwater films and more recently has become a production house for documentary films. The is also the President of "Explorations Aqua Sub Terra," a non -profit organization for the protection of the underwater and underground world.

Explaining her love for karst she says “it may seem strange to have such a passion … [but it’s] like looking at the very source of life on which, in the end, we all depend. Looking for and understanding connections between different karst systems is key to protecting the groundwater and health of neighborin…

13-year-old girl, Malavath Poorna, is the youngest climber to scale Mount Everest

She is the 9th standard student of AP Social Welfare Residential Education School/College for Girls, Thadwai, Nizamabad District. Pooran joined in VI class in APSWRE School in 2010 and never considered that she would travel up to Himalayas. Poorna was one of the youngest to conquer Mt. Renock (17,000ft) on 10th November 2013 too.
Being trained by Gowlidoddi and Bhongir rock climbing school of Treanscend Adventures Pvt. Ltd. and the experts of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute located South of Sikkim, her level of confidence and both mental and physical skills are strong. Even when there was no sign that she would be chosen out of 20 SWAEROES to climb the Mount Everest, she explains how she understands the toughness of scaling the Everest. She said "I have some idea of it after trekking the Mt. Renock. I will prove it." After accomplishing the feat she said: "Climbing the Everest was certainly more difficult than I thought – but my willpower to prove that a tribal girl…

Women in History Now Recorded!

In Feb. 2014 about 600 volunteers in 31 venues around the globe stood for something EWLS believes in: representing and recording women in history. These amazing volunteers answered a call for the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, a massive multinational effort to correct a persistent bias in Wikipedia, which is disproportionally written by and about men. 
At a time when Wikipedia is becoming increasingly influential, “it’s really tangible to be able to fix something that is visibly wrong,” says Jacqueline Mabey, a co-organizer of Saturday’s Edit-a-Thon. "The event seemed like a new kind of consciousness raising that was very goal-oriented ... It was aimed at writing women into history in a new way for the digital age—by giving more women the awareness and tools to take matters in their own hands." says Casamento, a masters student in American literature at Brooklyn College who participated in the effort.
Read all about the effort and some of the recorded women artists a…

Young Girl Who Falls to Her Death into a Yucatán Cave Unlocks Mysteries of the Americas

The first face of the first Americans belongs to an unlucky teenage girl who fell to her death in a Yucatán cave some 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. Her bad luck is science’s good fortune. 
In 2007, a team of Mexican divers discovered an immense submerged cavern they named Hoyo Negro, the “black hole,” that contained the nearly complete human skeleton of the girl and a bed of prehistoric bones. Together these remnants may help explain an enduring mystery about the peopling of the Americas. The earliest Americans were a rough bunch. It appears that these men fought among themselves—often and violently. Women were much smaller than the men, with signs of malnourishment and domestic abuse.

Merry Christmas From the Ladies of Tumbling Rock Cave

In 2013 Nancy Aulenbach, Scout Aulenbach, Kristen and, Sue Aughey attended the 6th annual Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. decoration of the Christmas Tree. on a BFF Trip.

This roughly 15 or so foot-tall tiered stalagmite that stands prominently inside Tumbling Rock Cave and is apply named The "Christmas Tree."It takes about an hour or more to reach from the main entrance.

"Even when not lit up with lights, the tiered stalagmite is a truly impressive sight." says Dean Wisemen, NSS member. "Great care is used during the decoration process so as not to physically touch the formation." Wiseman explains.

The crowning achievement of the event is really what follows next. "Following the Tree Lighting, an anti-graffiti party [commences] to raise awareness of inappropriate impact on caves." Wiseman says.  Last year volunteers were treated to some hot spiced apple cider along with gingerbread caver cookies sporting helmets with headlamps. 
Wiseman …

Bat Biologist Aimee Hart

Because of her vast research on bats and her involvement in bat research and knowledge in our community, many people call her when they find dead bats around their house or under a car. She is able to stuff the bats with cotton and use them as examples when she gives talks around the country.

Sophie Harrison sheds light on cave-dwelling fauna

University of Adelaide PhD candidate Sophie Harrison used gene sequences of cave-dwelling pseudoscorpions to compare related specimens and discovered that species living in different aquifers evolved separately. Previously, specimens were allocated to one of the two genera based on a single physical difference in pincer shape, but Ms Harrison's work indicates this is incorrect. "Our results show that the pseudoscorpions studied invaded [aquifers and voids] in complete isolation from one another, and subsequently evolved in isolation too—like birds and bats both evolving wings," Ms Harrison says.


Jen Guyton Aims to Conserve Bats in the Face of Ebola

Jen Guyton studies bats and thinks that conservation is especially important in th face of Ebola. Read her story in her new blog post "African Bats: Conservation in the Time of Ebola."

Read More: here

Dr. Nancy B. Simmons Announces New Bat Species: Thyroptera wynneae

Nancy B. Simmons, Curator-in-Charge, Department of Mammalogy, Division of Vertebrate Zoology and Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School leads the "Dr. Simmons' research group" which focuses on systematics and evolutionary biology of bats (Chiroptera). 
On Thursday Nov. 20 she announced the finding of a new bat species named Thyroptera wynneae. This is Peruvian Disk-winged bat discovered in 2014 by an international team lead by Paul Velazco of the American Museum of Natural History. This new species was discovered in an area already known to be home to two other species of Disk-winged bats, suggesting that local diversity of these tiny, specialized insectivores may be higher than previously suspected.
You can find her book "Bats: A World of Science and Mystery" which presents these fascinating nocturnal creatures in a new light. Lush, full-color photographs portray bats in flight, feeding, and mating in views that show them in exceptional detail…

Top Canadian cave diver Jill Heinerth Presents for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society's spring speaker series on April 30, 2014.

Heinerth obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts at York University in Toronto and had a successful career in graphic design. But at night and on weekends, she traveled to Tobermory, Ont. to scuba dive or teach others to dive.

Taking the first of many brave steps, Heinerth eventually chose to give up her career, sell her business and all her personal belongings and move to the Cayman Islands to pursue scuba diving full-time.

“I knew I needed to find a way to get out of the four walls of my office and blend my creative interests and background with my desire to be underwater,” she says.

With hard work and persistence, she was not only successful in becoming a professional scuba diver, but also conquered the roles of filmmaker, writer, underwater photographer and creator of the We Are Water project. She's also been awarded the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration.

“I wanted to be an astronaut,” she says, “but a young girl at that time really wasn’t encouraged to follow that pat…

Laura Demarest is Nominated Awesome

Earlier this month an anonymous submission came into EWLS. The letter expressed that Laura Demarest is "an extraordinary women caver and leader." This person went on to tell us why: Demarest (once called Laura Young) works in Sullivan County as the watershed coordinator for the Soil and Water Conservation District. She graduated from Franklin College with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She first went to Bluespring Caverns for an overnight adventure with her science club while in eighth grade where she became hooked on caving. At 15 Demarest became a tour guide at Bluespring Caverns and continued to work there periodically even when she was visiting home from Franklin College. Demarest has been involved in the exploration of Binkley cave in recent years and has been a major player in helping extend the cave to 41+ miles making Binkley cave the 7th longest cave in the country. "Her dedication to this project, as well as other projects including the revived exploration of…

Katrina Smith

Katrina Smith, the Lava Bed National Monument bat specialist and natural resources manager takes part in bat surveys, submits articles, and leads trips for the Lava Beds National Monument. She also conducts studies on ice caves. In 2014 she presented on the subject at the International Ice Cave Conference.


Photographer Melissa Horn sheds light on microorganisms

Melissa Horn, a freelance photographer and geology major at Lock Haven University. Horn moved back to the area a year ago after spending three years visiting and photographing caves around North America.

When Melissa Horn's husband took her caving on their second date, it was the first time she ever entered the dark, damp underground world of caves. "I was absolutely terrified, I felt claustrophobic," she said. "But I couldn't help but be interested by it.” These days, it's a different story - Horn is trying to find and explore caves as much as possible.

After taking her camera into a cave for the first time, she said she became obsessed with the subjects underground. “I have always loved caves and geology,” Horn said. “Our experience inspired me to return to school and major in geology with the idea that I can turn my hobby into a career.”

Horn hopes that her photography helps create a platform for discussion about the topic of conservation. “I began focu…

Dr. Marion Dowd

Dr. Marion Dowd, lecturer in prehistoric archaeology at IT Sligo and Ireland’s only specialist in the archaeology of Irish caves has written numerous scientific articles related to caves and has written three books. In 2009 the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) awarded Dowd a Research Fellowship towards the Irish Cave Archaeology Project. Before then, Dowd was researching Irish cave archaeology for over 12 years. Since 2008 she has been working to excavate caves for research; especially Glencurran Cave. In 2011 one of these excavations, led by Dowd, resulted in the findings of bones and evidence of use dating back to about 1,000 BC. The year before, her excavation of Burren Cave resulted in the discovery of the largest Viking necklace in Ireland. This year she was brought on to study the discovery 5,500 years old radiocarbon dated Stone Age child found in a tiny cave high on Knocknarea mountain. Great work Dr. Dowd. Thank you for being an Extraord…

Gretchen Hartman: A Strong Leader & Teacher of Leaders

Gretchen Hartman, 18 years, has been caving with the NSS youth program for almost 4 years now and is a member of the Philadelphia Grotto. "She is not only a strong caver, but a leader and a teacher of leaders.” says Allen Maddox, NSS Youth Liaison. Hartman has staffed and instructed at the National Youth Leaders Training course and is currently organizing a contingent of Scouts from Area 6 (PA, NJ, DE, MD, NY) to the Winter Adventure Weekend in Kentucky.

Besides being an impressive caver, Hartman recently earned the Venturing Silver Award from Venturing Crew 363 after chartering Ephrata’s Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church and serving as president of Crew 363 for two years. As president, she has been hailed for increasing membership of her crew. Her scouting experience has included being the first female youth in the Pennsylvania Dutch Council to attend National Youth Leadership Training. She also has served on the staff at Bashore Scout Reservation as an open-water lifeguard, …

Catie McEntee

Catie McEntee first went caving about 4 years ago
with her Venturing Crew (the co-ed division of Eagle Scouts) on a trip hosted by the NSS Youth Liaison Committee Chairperson Allen Maddox. At the next event she invited Maddox to train the group about caving and bring the Squeeze Box, a training tool for new cavers. "She was in charge of our contingent. She organized every aspect of our participation in this event.” Maddox remembered.

McEntee was also a leader at National Youth Leadership Training. Today she studies engineering at North Carolina State University. "When she comes come home on break she put together caving trips and has also helped me when I guide other youth groups on their caving trips. She is one of those people you can tell is going places. I'm looking forward to seeing her take off and change the world.” says Maddox.

Image: Allen Maddox

Africadalli Sheela is the Indan Cavewoman

Africadalli Sheela is the Indan Cavewoman superhero of the 80’s. After her parents are killed, the baby girl grows up in a jungle, with only animals as friends, guardians, and companions. “To obtain this film” one fan wrote, “pray hard, it is near impossible to find.” What do you think of this female role model? Have you seen the movie?

Katrina Berry Leader & Environmentalist

Katrina Berry is a 20 year old college student who has been caving with the NSS youth program for 2 years. In this short time she has shown to be a very strong leader and organizer. She attend her first MAR event and is known as a dependable resource by members of the Philadelphia Grotto. Berry has planned and ran her own trip of 12 Scouts and leaders to caving in West Virginia. She is working and studying to become an Environmentalist. "I have no doubt she will be doing this [accomplishing in an Environmental career] soon. She is currently helping me plan several other future trips, at least one of which will be outside of the USA. Her leadership is exemplary."  says Allen Maddox, NSS Youth Liaison Committee Chairperson.

Image: Allen Maddox

Shannon Stephens

Meet Shannon Stephens, Timpanogos Cave National Monument Administrative Officer. Shannon started working part time in the visitor center at Timpanogos Cave NM in 2004 and has really become an asset to the park. She was born and raised right here in Utah and is the proud mother of teenage daughters. As a kid, her dad used to take Shannon and her little brother camping in American Fork Canyon. She still enjoys camping, fishing, hiking, and being in the outdoors. She feels very fortunate to be working where many family memories were created and is reminded of this every morning as she drives into the beautiful canyon. If you visit her office don’t forget to check out her fish tank and sneak a treat from her candy bowl!


Alex Diamond is a Youth Leader in Caving

Alex Diamond is a recipient of the Venturing Silver Award from the co-ed division of Boy Scouts Venturing Crew 23 - the 15th recipient of the award in 17 years! Diamond has been in the Venturing program since 2010. Before then, she was a founding member of Crew 56 where she served as vice president for two terms and became crew president. In 2011, Diamond became a certified “Leave No Trace” trainer, and she has served on the staff of Horseshoe Scout Reservation’s Camp Ware for the past three years, where she most recently taught outdoor skills to Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.

Besides this, 18 year old Diamond has been caving with the NSS youth program, for about 4 years. Not only is she a strong caver, but she has planned, organized and carried out her own caving trips and plans on doing more. She has taught different skills at the National Youth Leaders Training course.

"She is also in high demand as an instructor and organizer for Scouting projects throughout Chester County Council…

Emily Mobley stays cool under pressure

In 1991 Emily Mobley, an expert caver with 20 years of experience and owner of Speleobooks, was leading a survey team of five cavers through an area two miles Lechuguilla Cave, the nation's deepest cave with 70-degree temperatures and near 100% humidity, when she fell about 12 feet and an 80-pound rock fell on her left leg below the kneecap, breaking it. Despite her splinted leg, Mobley managed to move about half a mile through a moderately difficult section of the cave. During this four-day rescue she showed incredible strength and resolve. She and only had three major requests: a hairbrush, pizza, and that the media wouldn't find out about her injury. Unfortunately for her, the story leaked but it seems that the article merely attributed to her amazing ability to stay cool under pressure and even pain. Mobley still caves today and in fact, only days after the rescue she told the media that she intended on returning to the cave as soon as her leg healed.


Slime Team Supports Women in Science

Diana Northup and Penny Boston formed the Slime Team to study cave-dwelling microbes. Today the team is comprised of mostly women and their webstite lists a total of 16 women associates, students, and pass staff! The team has conducted many scientific experiments and published numerous studies. You can even read about cave-related concepts on their website:


Modoc tribes women at the Lava Beds National Monument

In honor of Women's History Month, let's take a moment to acknowledge how important women were to Modoc tribes living on the Lava Beds. Responsible for gathering and preparing food, tanning hides, making winter clothing, and weaving cultural art, Modoc women were the life force behind a tribe's survival. Older women would also serve alongside men as shamans, or healing doctors.


Jennifer Ellen Pinkley

This experienced caver, backpacker, flatwater kayaker, and hiker is also a published, reliable writer with over 20 years of experience writing about all sorts of topics specializes in history and the environment, but she's also covered engineering, architecture, pets, telecommunications, and erosion control. She is a very experienced researcher who writes marketing materials, blog posts, social media posts, web page copy, and much more for a variety of publications and nonprofit organizations.

She also does work in marketing and grant writing for several nonprofit organizations. She's tackled government proposals, pretty much any kind of user documentation, and many aspects of web design and coding.


Alison S. Brooks

Alison Brooks joined The George Washington University in 1972, and has been Professor of Anthropology since 1988. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University in 1979. She also serves as Research Associate in Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Brooks is actively involved in the training of scientists and museum personnel from African countries, and in the development and implementation of heritage policy in Africa. She edits a bulletin for teachers, entitled AnthroNotes, that is distributed three times a year to several hundred individuals and institutions interested in anthropological perspectives on current issues. She has led research projects in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Sweden, France, China, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Recently this prolific archeologist was interviewed about the new discovery of Indonesian C…

Kris Hirst

Kris Hirst has written articles for Science and Archaeology magazines, and for over fifteen years has participated in panel discussions and presented several professional papers at conferences and elsewhere on the use of the Internet as a tool for presenting archaeological information to the public. She is a science writer and editor for a variety of journals and books and has published her own book; The Archaeologist's Book of Quotations in 2009. Hirst is an Illinois State graduate with a BS in Education with three majors and five minors and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Iowa. She is also a member of several societies including the Society for American Archaeology, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Register of Professional Archaeologists, and the National Association of Science Writers. Hirst has contributed to caving through her developement of articles about caves that show the value of caves in archeological findings. Some of these artic…

Sara Craighead, Superintendent of Mammoth Cave National Park

Years ago this extraordinary woman was already being noticed for her achievements. Craighead was featured in the Death Valley Journal blog as a Woman of Death Valley. And even before this, her path was leading her to her position today as superintendent of Mammoth Cave National Park.

In 1974 she was valedictorian of Caverna High School in Cave City. That summer she took seasonal employment at Mammoth Cave National Park while attending Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in biology. “My very first job was selling crafts at the Mammoth Cave Hotel. The cave was my jumping off point with the National Park Service.  Now, more than thirty years later, I have the honor of managing the park."

Before becoming superintendent in 2012, Craighead served as the superintendent of Saguaro National Park (Tucson, Ariz.)  and was the first superintendent of Washita Battlefield National Historic Site (Cheyenne, Okla). "... It is a little differ…

Glenda Swiney

Glenda Swiney is a senior at Texas A&M University in Galveston,
ocean and coastal resources major, will graduate magna cum laude on Dec. 14. This year she recieved the Texas Oilman's Charity Invitational Fishing Tournament (TOCIFT) Fellowship For Academic Recognition. As a certified master diver, Swiney made seven cavern dives in 2013 in the Ox Bel Ha System, the world’s longest underwater cave, to participate in scientific research to determine what promotes diversification of eyeless, albino cave fish and crustaceans.

Read more and view the video:

Homeless Woman Finds Hope in Cave Dwelling

Hope who is now 41, she felt more comfortable in the cave than a homeless shelter. She lived on her Social Security disability check of $670 a month, but she spent a good portion of it staying at a motel for four or five days a month. It gave her chance to clean up and to spend some time with her younger daughter, who was still living in the area. Her daughter knew where she lived the rest of the month.

“She would say, ‘Oh, God, Mom, I can’t believe you’re living in cave.’ I felt like I failed utterly.”

Carmen Gonzalez, who works at the Hub and coordinates outreach workers for the Mental Health Center, remembers meeting Hope at the Hub snack bar. She knew Hope was a new client, and she remembers her as “pretty tearful, pretty frightened and at the same time trying to appear strong.”

Gonzalez became Hope’s confidante, nudging her in the direction of getting more help. Later that March, after losing the cave dwelling, Hope went to a Project Homeless Connect event at the Parmly Billings…

Read "Cave in the Snow" by Vicki Mackenzie

This amazing story is about a London born woman who left her life to become a buddhist. Travelling up the Himalayas to practice meditation in a isolated cave in the snow. It's an incredible read for anyone who's interested in exploring spirituality through buddhism.


Halloween Costumes for girls done right!

This young woman caver wore this outfit for Halloween!


First female cave explorer to map in Son Doong seeks help to save the cave

In 2009, when Hellie Brooke was 22, she served as the only female on the trip that first mapped and discovery Son Doong Cave. This beautiful and amazing cave is the largest in the world!

Brooke is asking EWLS patrons to sign a petition for the action to implement “The Rights of Nature” as to prevent any construction work within The Son Doong Cave and its region of Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh province, Vietnam.

Sign Petition: 
Info about Son Doong:
Photo: Adam Spillane/Thomas Arbends