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Showing posts from January, 2015

Sarah Carmichael

Carmichael is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology at Appalachian State University. She studies the mineralogy of manganese ore deposits and the characteristics of manganese biominerals in caves, in addition to her work on Si-deficient volcanic rocks and the geochemistry of mass extinctions. Her research heavily involves scanning and transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and spectroscopic techniques.She is studying the biomineralization process that occurs in caves when microbes utilize reduced metals, such as iron, as a source of energy, much like plants harvest light energy via photosynthesis. “These are minerals that do not have organic carbon as part of their makeup and the microbes are not using traditional pathways to obtain food. They are using metals instead of carbon as an energy source,” Carmichael said. The iron and manganese oxide mineral deposits the professors collect from caves in eastern Tennessee and southwest Virginia are a result of thi…

Suzanna Bräuer

Bräuer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Appalachian State University.  She is a microbiologist whose work includes microbial ecology of cave systems (particularly manganese oxidizing bacterial communities), the role of anthropogenic impact on microbial communities, and microbial methane production in peat bogs. The research is being conducted to better understand the microbial processes that form minerals in caves in eastern Tennessee may help NASA scientists determine if similar microbial processes are occurring on Mars. 
She collects iron and manganese oxide mineral deposits in one of the caves in eastern Tennessee and southwest Virginia where she has conducted research. The minerals are created by microbes that use reduced metals as an energy source. A similar microbial process could occur or could have occurred on Mars which also contains iron oxides. The research is being conducted to better understand the microbial processes that form minerals in caves in…

Howe Caverns Attracts the Attention of Female Producer Amy Kraft

This underground special explores what lives underground with cavers who meet every year to protect Howe Caverns in Schoharie, New York.Link:

Diana Northup

You may know her as the scientist co-founder, with Penny Boston, of the Slime Team (Subsurface Life in Mineral Environments) formed to study cave-dwelling microbes but did you know that this extraordinary woman has under her belt, besides several bachelors, masters and doctor degrees, close to 50 years of caving during which she's had a lot of publications published (one book and dozens articles) and been an amazing mentor to some 60 students of all levels at UNM, getting them to win awards and receive several grants at the local, regional and national level? Do not miss her TED talk on using your passion to mentor (link below).
She's also given numerous talks to public groups, has participated in National Parks Week at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for several years, has taken several media persons on fieldwork expeditions to caves, and has been interviewed for several stories about her research, including a NOVA episode, Mysterious Life of Caves and segments on CNN, NHK in …

3 Portland Women Make History

"Plucky fishermen with trout rods have succeeded In reaching a point in the Salmon River Canyon a mile or so from the falls, but could get no further." the article said. And yet, these three women beat them there!
Guide C. W. Kern; Mr, and Mrs. F. A. Rasch, Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Compton, and Mr. and Mrs Joseph O'Connor were the third party to ever reach the waterfall and cave and the three women were the first of their sex to accomplish such a feat.
To give an Idea of the difficulties of penetrating this wild jungle, it took 20 men a week to cut out one mile of the trail built by the Mount Hood Company. Since the trail was built, parts of it have been washed away and obstructed by storms and falling timber.
The party followed the river It a general way, but often the bed of the stream would have to be crossed and recrossed, and very frequently big boulders and cliffs would make further progress along the stream impossible. Detours through the most dense brush and over the …

Joy Lyons Leaves Her Mark

Joy Lyons, 56, a wife and the mother of three daughters passed after a long battle with cancer last week. Former Park City Mayor Gary Madison described Lyons to Glasgow Daily Times: “She was always willing to help with any project ..." Over the years in service “she helped look for lost visitors ... [and] treat injured visitors” said Brad McDougal, who started working at Mammoth Cave at about the same time as Lyons.
Lyons began her career at Mammoth Cave in 1979 as a seasonal park aid. In 2004 she was promoted to chief of program services for the park’s division of interpretation and held the position retiring in 2013.
“She did a lot for Mammoth Cave National Park, particularly the cave (and) the African-American history,” Bob Ward said. In a previous Daily Times’ article, Lyons said: “Mammoth Cave has an extensive black history and we’re not even identified ... [that way]. That was one of my objectives: to get the story of Mammoth Cave’s slave history out to the public, but al…

Caves of Haiti Exhibit Features EWLS' Own Carole Devillers

Carole Devillers, professional photographer, caver, author and EWLS' Social Media Reporter has her work featured beside the work of Olivier Testa and Jean-François Fabriol in the fantastic Caves of Haiti exhibit shown at UNESCO. 
From 5 to 21 January 2015 will be held the exhibition "Caves of Haiti, between imaginary and Realities" organized by the Association Cavemen. This exhibition is the result of 5 years of research carried out under the auspices of the Haitian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, by cavers Carole Devillers, Jean-François Fabriol and Olivier Testa, will be present at the UNESCO House in Paris.
This is the first time outside the borders of Haiti, that will be highlighted these geological wealth and their heritage significance in the culture and the history of Haiti. Through a series of photographs of cavers and multimedia content, the exhibition invites visitors to travel in 6 departments of Haiti and to discover the beauties including o…

Jennifer Bhargava Teaches Children in an Underground Classroom

EarthWorks stresses STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills and experiential learning to about 13,000 kids a year. Children get a glimpse of real habitats 160 feet below the Earth's surface in it's shared 32,000-square-foot limestone cave called SubTropolis, a massive underground business complex.
Kristen Bredemeier is director of environmental education at Teach and Learn Experientially, the non-profit that manages EarthWorks & Exchange City in the SubTropolis business park. The Kansas City native’s passion for science came to fruition in 1995 when she was one of those enthusiastic students. “Visiting EarthWorks with my third-grade class opened my eyes to nature, and I loved being immersed in the different habitats,” Bredemeier said.

Sybill Amelon and her research team has high hopes of curing WNS

"For the first time since the WNS outbreak, Sybill Amelon and her research team are providing a reason for optimism." says a article in the Columbia Missourian. "Amelon [and her team] has developed a breakthrough bacterial treatment that could revitalize a devastated population and reclaim caves for bats in North America."
Amelon is leading one of the most promising efforts yet to control the disease using the discovery of Chris Cornelison, PHD biologist from Georgia State University who was investigating use of a bacteria Rhodococcus rhodochrous for food preservation. This bacteria inhibits fungal growth and delays fruit ripening by 14 days without direct contact with the fruit; meaning a reduced impact on cave life and hope for bats.
"Our objective is not to get rid of white nose .... [but] to increase bat survival to allow them to coevolve with the disease." Amelon said. She predicts that survival won't be widespread at first since Rhodococcus bact…

Sarah Cook: Bat Advocate and Nature Photographer

Cook, a young mother who works at the Newton County Department of Health. She leads and organizes cave trips and surves as a Southwest Survey Team Leader for Missouri Bat Census. Her greatest discovery to date is locating a small number of federally endandered grey bats. Until this, grey bats were previously unknown in Newton County, Missouri. “Sarah is [also] a spectacular nature photographer” according to Bree McMurry and Kirsten Alvey-Mudd, president and founder of Missouri Bat Census.

Bree McMurry interview
Kirsten Alvey-Mudd

Kristen Alvey-Mudd Braves WNS Monitoring and Bat Counts in Cold Weather after Extensive Surgery

Alvey-Mudd is the president and founder of Missouri Bat Cencus, a nonprofit that helps cave owners and cave management organizations care for and monitor bats. She was also featured in the EWLS annual magazine as an Extraordinary Woman Caver this year. On Dec. 30 she reported about her trip to monitor bats in one of her organizations five NE Missouri sites where they counted 4 species in the 236 bats and found that 43 had been affected by WNS. "One site had over 50% saturation," she wrote, " ... [no] mortalities were seen although it seemed imminent in at least 5 bats." Alvey-Mudd lead this trip with only 3 1/2 months of recovery from major surgery on her heel in 12 degree weather with a -4 wind chill. She was injured in a caving accident years ago and had to have a bone in her foot replaced with a cadaver bone. Despite this physical challenge, Alvey-Mudd continues to push forward regarding caving as a way of life. "[I get] much more practical physical therapy…

The Women Caver of the 90's

We sure have come a long way and the 90's was just the beginning. Read here some excerpts from article writer Andrew Todhunter who said "grace of movement underground is the first sign of a skilled caver." After recalling a particularly difficult crawl-way navigation Todhunter said "I slither[ed] downward and emerged beside [Carol] Vesely in a lower passage." she said 'A squeeze is like a combination lock,... you only need to know the combination.'"

He explained this theory in recalling convention activities: "At caving conventions above ground cavers often force themselves through adjustable wooden "squeeze boxes" in good-natured competitions. In the safety of these controlled settings cavers may push far beyond what they might hazard underground, and for the remainder of a convention they may wear pins declaring their tightest squeezes, measured to the eighth of an inch ... women are most commonly arrested by the depth…

Cave Names Inspired By Women

In a 1998 article Todhunter writes"I have visited a number ... caves... [but] virgin passage... is something I have never encountered. When the opportunity arose to join Vesely and sixteen other veteran cavers for a weekend of exploration and survey at Lilburn, the longest known cave in California, I thought it might be my chance. I gradually set my hopes, in fact, on discovering a chamber -- however small -- and naming it for my infant daughter, Julia. In the end we find no virgin passage in Lilburn. Julia's Room is out there but remains buried, perhaps in another cave, on another continent."
Did you find you virgin passage Andrew? Tell us, did you name it after her?