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Dave SockyWest Virginia Exploration

David Socky is a retired (since 2013) software systems engineer with General Electric at Salem, Virginia, and owner of Hodag Video Productions. He holds two Bachelor degrees, one in Business Administration/Management from Ohio University and one in Electrical Engineering (EE) from Cleveland State University, as well as a Master’s degree in EE from Virginia Tech.

Dave started caving in 1974 and has surveyed and explored countless numbers of caves since, including Hellhole in West Virginia and Omega in Virginia, and is currently engaged in several survey and exploration projects including the Great Savannah Cave System (Maxwelton and McClungs), Windy Mouth, and Cave Hollow-Arbogast.

He is responsible for the production of many videos on caving and mountain climbing, including a number of popular caving music videos. Dave is a Life Member and Fellow of the NSS. He is the Co-Chair of the NSS Awards Salon, Chair of the NSS AV Library, and Chair of the NSS Video Salon. In addition, Dave is Co-Editor of the Carbide Dump, the newsletter of the Blue Ridge Grotto; a board member of the West Virginia Association for Cave Studies (WVACS); board member and secretary of the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias (CCV); president of the Virginia Speleological Survey (VSS); and a member of the Cave Research Foundation (CRF).

But mostly, Dave is a project caver, caving once or twice a week in Virginia and West Virginia, or anywhere there is a good trip to be had.

Dave SockyWest Virginia Exploration

David Socky is a retired (since 2013) software systems engineer with General Electric at Salem, Virginia, and owner of Hodag Video Productions. He holds two Bachelor degrees, one in Business Administration/Management from Ohio University and one in Electrical Engineering (EE) from Cleveland State University, as well as a Master’s degree in EE from Virginia Tech.

Dave started caving in 1974 and has surveyed and explored countless numbers of caves since, including Hellhole in West Virginia and Omega in Virginia, and is currently engaged in several survey and exploration projects including the Great Savannah Cave System (Maxwelton and McClungs), Windy Mouth, and Cave Hollow-Arbogast.

He is responsible for the production of many videos on caving and mountain climbing, including a number of popular caving music videos. Dave is a Life Member and Fellow of the NSS. He is the Co-Chair of the NSS Awards Salon, Chair of the NSS AV Library, and Chair of the NSS Video Salon. In addition, Dave is Co-Editor of the Carbide Dump, the newsletter of the Blue Ridge Grotto; a board member of the West Virginia Association for Cave Studies (WVACS); board member and secretary of the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias (CCV); president of the Virginia Speleological Survey (VSS); and a member of the Cave Research Foundation (CRF).

But mostly, Dave is a project caver, caving once or twice a week in Virginia and West Virginia, or anywhere there is a good trip to be had.

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Phil LucasLuminary Series

Luminary Series – Reflections: Old Times, New Times, and Endless Adventure

Phil LucasLuminary Series

Luminary Series – Reflections: Old Times, New Times, and Endless Adventure

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William K JonesLuminary Series

Luminary Series – Looking for Dye in All the Wrong Places

William K JonesLuminary Series

Luminary Series – Looking for Dye in All the Wrong Places

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William M BalfourLuminary Series

Luminary Series – Holes are Fun

William M BalfourLuminary Series

Luminary Series – Holes are Fun

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Jeff KarrCave Conservancy Roundtable

My entry into caving is relatively recent. I live in Central Florida with my wife and family. Professionally I am a physician practicing Podiatry and Wound Care. I am the current Chairman for the National Speleological Society Cave Conservancy Committee. I have been focusing on creating dialogue with the cave conservancies. This dialogue includes enhancing knowledge between conservancies as well as highlighting resources available to the conservancies from the National Speleological Society. I also prepare quarterly reports highlighting the conservancies’ accomplishments and notable deeds to the Board of Governors (BOG). I am an active member of the Tampa Bay Area Grotto, Florida Speleological Society, Southeastern Cave Conservancy, and the National Speleological Society.

Along with my 11-year-old son, Seth, we actively enjoy caving throughout Central Florida and the TAG region. Not limiting myself to just caving, I am active with cave preservation, maintenance, and clean ups, as well as establishing a modern database of caves throughout Central Florida. Over the last 3 years I have also been collecting cave biological data to assess cave sensitivity, decline, and improvement in regard to human, environmental, and karst factors. These data will be compared to data previously made available.

Jeff KarrCave Conservancy Roundtable

My entry into caving is relatively recent. I live in Central Florida with my wife and family. Professionally I am a physician practicing Podiatry and Wound Care. I am the current Chairman for the National Speleological Society Cave Conservancy Committee. I have been focusing on creating dialogue with the cave conservancies. This dialogue includes enhancing knowledge between conservancies as well as highlighting resources available to the conservancies from the National Speleological Society. I also prepare quarterly reports highlighting the conservancies’ accomplishments and notable deeds to the Board of Governors (BOG). I am an active member of the Tampa Bay Area Grotto, Florida Speleological Society, Southeastern Cave Conservancy, and the National Speleological Society.

Along with my 11-year-old son, Seth, we actively enjoy caving throughout Central Florida and the TAG region. Not limiting myself to just caving, I am active with cave preservation, maintenance, and clean ups, as well as establishing a modern database of caves throughout Central Florida. Over the last 3 years I have also been collecting cave biological data to assess cave sensitivity, decline, and improvement in regard to human, environmental, and karst factors. These data will be compared to data previously made available.

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Kathleen LavoieConservation and Management

Kathy Lavoie started caving when she left New Hampshire for grad school at Indiana University, and there were no mountains to climb. More than 50 years later she is still caving, but doing research. With a doctorate in microbial ecology working with Tom Poulson, Lavoie studies organisms in caves and their interactions, ranging from bacteria to cave crickets. She has been fortunate to study cave biology around the world, but particularly at Mammoth Cave, Carlsbad Cavern, and Villa Luz in Mexico. She works closely with Diana Northup on geomicrobiology and the microbiology of lava caves. Lavoie teaches biology at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Kathleen LavoieConservation and Management

Kathy Lavoie started caving when she left New Hampshire for grad school at Indiana University, and there were no mountains to climb. More than 50 years later she is still caving, but doing research. With a doctorate in microbial ecology working with Tom Poulson, Lavoie studies organisms in caves and their interactions, ranging from bacteria to cave crickets. She has been fortunate to study cave biology around the world, but particularly at Mammoth Cave, Carlsbad Cavern, and Villa Luz in Mexico. She works closely with Diana Northup on geomicrobiology and the microbiology of lava caves. Lavoie teaches biology at SUNY Plattsburgh.

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George DasherWest Virginia Exploration

George Dasher began caving, cave surveying, and project caving in 1975 in the 38.5-mile-long Organ Cave System in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. His first three trips were not “fun,” but he stuck with it and has since focused on documenting West Virginia caves and karst. To date, he has ridgewalked and surveyed caves in all of West Virginia’s karst counties, as well as completed a significant number of successful dye traces. He is also a prolific writer and editor of cave-related materials, and has edited The West Virginia Caver since its founding in 1983. He has also produced several publications for the NSS, including both editions of On Station, the NSS’ publication on cave surveying, and nine West Virginia Speleological Survey bulletins. He is currently the Executive Director of the West Virginia Speleological Survey, the secretary of the Surveying and Cartography Section of the NSS, and the vice-president of the Charleston Grotto.

George DasherWest Virginia Exploration

George Dasher began caving, cave surveying, and project caving in 1975 in the 38.5-mile-long Organ Cave System in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. His first three trips were not “fun,” but he stuck with it and has since focused on documenting West Virginia caves and karst. To date, he has ridgewalked and surveyed caves in all of West Virginia’s karst counties, as well as completed a significant number of successful dye traces. He is also a prolific writer and editor of cave-related materials, and has edited The West Virginia Caver since its founding in 1983. He has also produced several publications for the NSS, including both editions of On Station, the NSS’ publication on cave surveying, and nine West Virginia Speleological Survey bulletins. He is currently the Executive Director of the West Virginia Speleological Survey, the secretary of the Surveying and Cartography Section of the NSS, and the vice-president of the Charleston Grotto.

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Dave JacksonConservation and Management

Dave Jackson from Manitou Springs, Colorado, got his start in caving while studying electrical engineering at MIT. During a Colorado Cave Rescue Network training in 2008, Dave saw first-hand how damaging cave rescue can be to caves. This experience inspired him to invent CaveSim, an artificial cave system with electronic scoring that gives feedback to participants to help them improve their caving softly skills. The first iteration of CaveSim is mobile and is installed in a 24 foot trailer. Dave and his team have built other versions of CaveSim, including a permanent installation in CityROCK Climbing Gym. Dave works full-time for CaveSim educating kids and adults around the country about cave conservation. CaveSim does programs for schools, museums, parks, show caves, and other organizations, with educational events in 17 states since 2010. Dave and his wife Tracy Jackson design all of the CaveSim lessons, which are aligned with state education standards to ensure that participants learn academic content in addition to conservation concepts. Dave and Tracy believe firmly in the importance of educating children about STEM and other school subjects, and in teaching children to value their education. With the onset of COVID-19, Dave has taken CaveSim programs online by producing both live and recorded lessons for children around the country. Learn more at www.cavesim.com.

Dave JacksonConservation and Management

Dave Jackson from Manitou Springs, Colorado, got his start in caving while studying electrical engineering at MIT. During a Colorado Cave Rescue Network training in 2008, Dave saw first-hand how damaging cave rescue can be to caves. This experience inspired him to invent CaveSim, an artificial cave system with electronic scoring that gives feedback to participants to help them improve their caving softly skills. The first iteration of CaveSim is mobile and is installed in a 24 foot trailer. Dave and his team have built other versions of CaveSim, including a permanent installation in CityROCK Climbing Gym. Dave works full-time for CaveSim educating kids and adults around the country about cave conservation. CaveSim does programs for schools, museums, parks, show caves, and other organizations, with educational events in 17 states since 2010. Dave and his wife Tracy Jackson design all of the CaveSim lessons, which are aligned with state education standards to ensure that participants learn academic content in addition to conservation concepts. Dave and Tracy believe firmly in the importance of educating children about STEM and other school subjects, and in teaching children to value their education. With the onset of COVID-19, Dave has taken CaveSim programs online by producing both live and recorded lessons for children around the country. Learn more at www.cavesim.com.

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Ferdinando DidonnaConservation and Management

Graduated in forestry sciences from Bari in1998, today I work in cooperation with Latin America countries as a consultant for a European technical assistance company in the fields of rural and social development, economics, and environment. In 2002, I specialized in rural development with a Master's degree from Universidad Estatal a Distancia, UNED Costa Rica, and then in micro-finance in 2009 from Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB Belgium. Honorary member of Gruppo Puglia Grotte (GPG), full member and member of the Board of the Italian Speleological Society (SSI), member of Grupo Espeleologico Anthros (GEA) of Costa Rica, and member of the National Speleological Society (NSS #67673).

In Italy, I joined the GPG of Castellana Grotte (Ba) in 1983 and the SSI in 1989. As treasurer of the Puglia Speleological Federation from 1996–1998, I dedicated myself to supporting and participating in the reactivation of Regional Law LR 32/86 on speleology and cave protection. I have always participated in the development of speleology through various leadership positions, with a strong interest in biospeleology and the protection of caves. I was a Soccorso Nazionale Alpino e Speleologico (CNSAS) cave rescue technician from 1989–1998, and I also served as the Scuola di Speleologia CNSS-SSI as an instructor and director of first-level caving programs at the School of Speleology of Castellana Grotte.

In 2002, I organized the first of a long series of speleology didactic programs of various levels with the Anthros Group (GEA) of Costa Rica (www.anthros.org) and the NSS. We focused programs on the principle that more knowledge leads to more protection. In Costa Rica, I also led the development of an electronic cave registry, which was based on the speleobase software of the Belgian speleologist Paul de Bie and translated into Spanish. Since 2008 I have collaborated with Ecokarst, a trimestral publication of the Commission Wallonne d'Etude et de Protection des Sites Souterrains CWEPSS and was a member of the board in 2009–2010.

In Central America, I have carried out various activities: two speleological expeditions in Honduras, the first regional caving congress, various courses in El Salvador, and caving training days in Nicaragua and Guatemala. In 2009, I also coordinated a study in Guatemala for the National Tourism Institute for tourist and religious cave management and protection. Currently, I am leading the Cave Animal of the Year campaign in Italy and the Clean Up the Dark initiative for SSI. This year, I also successfully initiated and coordinated collaboration with Val Hildreth-Werker and Jim Werker, editors/authors of the NSS volume titled Cave Conservation and Restoration, and hosted them in April for a Clean the Darkness workshop in Sardinia. The workshop provided an overview of current best practices in cave.

Ferdinando DidonnaConservation and Management

Graduated in forestry sciences from Bari in1998, today I work in cooperation with Latin America countries as a consultant for a European technical assistance company in the fields of rural and social development, economics, and environment. In 2002, I specialized in rural development with a Master's degree from Universidad Estatal a Distancia, UNED Costa Rica, and then in micro-finance in 2009 from Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB Belgium. Honorary member of Gruppo Puglia Grotte (GPG), full member and member of the Board of the Italian Speleological Society (SSI), member of Grupo Espeleologico Anthros (GEA) of Costa Rica, and member of the National Speleological Society (NSS #67673).

In Italy, I joined the GPG of Castellana Grotte (Ba) in 1983 and the SSI in 1989. As treasurer of the Puglia Speleological Federation from 1996–1998, I dedicated myself to supporting and participating in the reactivation of Regional Law LR 32/86 on speleology and cave protection. I have always participated in the development of speleology through various leadership positions, with a strong interest in biospeleology and the protection of caves. I was a Soccorso Nazionale Alpino e Speleologico (CNSAS) cave rescue technician from 1989–1998, and I also served as the Scuola di Speleologia CNSS-SSI as an instructor and director of first-level caving programs at the School of Speleology of Castellana Grotte.

In 2002, I organized the first of a long series of speleology didactic programs of various levels with the Anthros Group (GEA) of Costa Rica (www.anthros.org) and the NSS. We focused programs on the principle that more knowledge leads to more protection. In Costa Rica, I also led the development of an electronic cave registry, which was based on the speleobase software of the Belgian speleologist Paul de Bie and translated into Spanish. Since 2008 I have collaborated with Ecokarst, a trimestral publication of the Commission Wallonne d'Etude et de Protection des Sites Souterrains CWEPSS and was a member of the board in 2009–2010.

In Central America, I have carried out various activities: two speleological expeditions in Honduras, the first regional caving congress, various courses in El Salvador, and caving training days in Nicaragua and Guatemala. In 2009, I also coordinated a study in Guatemala for the National Tourism Institute for tourist and religious cave management and protection. Currently, I am leading the Cave Animal of the Year campaign in Italy and the Clean Up the Dark initiative for SSI. This year, I also successfully initiated and coordinated collaboration with Val Hildreth-Werker and Jim Werker, editors/authors of the NSS volume titled Cave Conservation and Restoration, and hosted them in April for a Clean the Darkness workshop in Sardinia. The workshop provided an overview of current best practices in cave.

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Diana NorthupConservation and Management

Diana Northup has been studying things that live in caves since 1984. She has a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of New Mexico, USA. She and her colleagues on the SLIME (Subsurface Life In Mineral Environments) Team are investigating lava caves in the Azores, Iceland, and Hawai‘i, New Mexico, and California (USA); how microbes help form the colorful ferromanganese deposits that coat the walls of Lechuguilla and Spider Caves in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, USA; how microbes participate in the precipitation of calcium carbonate formations called pool fingers; and the microbial diversity located in the hydrogen sulfide cave, Cueva de las Sardinas in Tabasco, Mexico. Across these study environments, she also investigates “microbes that masquerade as minerals,” to help better detect life on extraterrestrial bodies.

Her research has expanded to characterizing the external microbiota of bats in New Mexico and Arizona to investigate the native microbial defenses that bats possess. She has mentored numerous and diverse high school, undergraduate, and graduate students and delivered a TEDxABQ talk about her mentoring philosophy.

Diana has been honored by having her work featured on NOVA, BBC, CNN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and by being named a Fellow of the AAAS [American Association for the Advancement of Science]. In 2013, she was awarded the Science Award by the National Speleological Society for her achievements in Biospeleology and in 2015 she gave an NSS Luminary talk at the annual convention. Currently, she is Professor Emerita in the College of University Libraries & Learning Sciences and a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico, USA.

Diana NorthupConservation and Management

Diana Northup has been studying things that live in caves since 1984. She has a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of New Mexico, USA. She and her colleagues on the SLIME (Subsurface Life In Mineral Environments) Team are investigating lava caves in the Azores, Iceland, and Hawai‘i, New Mexico, and California (USA); how microbes help form the colorful ferromanganese deposits that coat the walls of Lechuguilla and Spider Caves in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, USA; how microbes participate in the precipitation of calcium carbonate formations called pool fingers; and the microbial diversity located in the hydrogen sulfide cave, Cueva de las Sardinas in Tabasco, Mexico. Across these study environments, she also investigates “microbes that masquerade as minerals,” to help better detect life on extraterrestrial bodies.

Her research has expanded to characterizing the external microbiota of bats in New Mexico and Arizona to investigate the native microbial defenses that bats possess. She has mentored numerous and diverse high school, undergraduate, and graduate students and delivered a TEDxABQ talk about her mentoring philosophy.

Diana has been honored by having her work featured on NOVA, BBC, CNN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and by being named a Fellow of the AAAS [American Association for the Advancement of Science]. In 2013, she was awarded the Science Award by the National Speleological Society for her achievements in Biospeleology and in 2015 she gave an NSS Luminary talk at the annual convention. Currently, she is Professor Emerita in the College of University Libraries & Learning Sciences and a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico, USA.

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Lilianna WolfConservation and Management

Lilianna Wolf is a researcher and graduate student at Texas A&M University. Her thesis research investigates the spread of white-nose syndrome disease among bats in Texas and Mexico. Aside from her research, Lilianna is a worker at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service where she contributes to projects examining issues of environmental conservation, conflict, and global health. She has held research associate positions and positions in environmental consulting.

Lilianna WolfConservation and Management

Lilianna Wolf is a researcher and graduate student at Texas A&M University. Her thesis research investigates the spread of white-nose syndrome disease among bats in Texas and Mexico. Aside from her research, Lilianna is a worker at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service where she contributes to projects examining issues of environmental conservation, conflict, and global health. She has held research associate positions and positions in environmental consulting.

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Francesco MauranoConservation and Management

Italian Speleological Society (SSI) member and active member of the board. In 1989 I attended the introductory caving course at the GS CAI in Naples. After a few years of caving, I moved to Summonte in the province of Avellino where in 1997, together with four caver-friends, we founded the Speleological Nature Exploring Group that I still chair. I was among the founders of the Campania Speleological Federation (FSC) and I have held the position of secretary for many years. Currently, I am also a delegate to FSC for my group. As a technical instructor and teacher in speleology courses, in 2000 I was appointed regional coordinator for Campania including Molise and the Basilicata. In 2009 I was elected to serve the SSI Board of Directors as manager for the event “Let’s Clean the Dark.” In 2015 I served as president of the XXII National Congress of Speleology “Share Data” Euro Speleo Forum held in Pertosa (Sa). I'm an author of many specific publications on caving in national magazines and conference proceedings. My activities include exploration and photography in caves and artificial cavities. I work as a technologist at the Institute of Food Sciences National Research Council, and I deal with Immunobiology.

Francesco MauranoConservation and Management

Italian Speleological Society (SSI) member and active member of the board. In 1989 I attended the introductory caving course at the GS CAI in Naples. After a few years of caving, I moved to Summonte in the province of Avellino where in 1997, together with four caver-friends, we founded the Speleological Nature Exploring Group that I still chair. I was among the founders of the Campania Speleological Federation (FSC) and I have held the position of secretary for many years. Currently, I am also a delegate to FSC for my group. As a technical instructor and teacher in speleology courses, in 2000 I was appointed regional coordinator for Campania including Molise and the Basilicata. In 2009 I was elected to serve the SSI Board of Directors as manager for the event “Let’s Clean the Dark.” In 2015 I served as president of the XXII National Congress of Speleology “Share Data” Euro Speleo Forum held in Pertosa (Sa). I'm an author of many specific publications on caving in national magazines and conference proceedings. My activities include exploration and photography in caves and artificial cavities. I work as a technologist at the Institute of Food Sciences National Research Council, and I deal with Immunobiology.

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Val Hildreth-Werker and Jim C. WerkerConservation and Management

Val Hildreth-Werker and Jim C. Werker have been working to improve cave conservation protocols and restoration techniques for over 30 years. They bring research and development backgrounds to cave and karst conservation—Jim, with 34 years at Sandia National Labs as a mechanical engineer in tooling design, fabrication, pressure safety, and materials research and Val, as a commercial medical/surgical photographer for Texas Tech University School of Medicine with 35 years as an outdoor education advisor.

Jim and Val conduct cave conservation workshops internationally for government agencies, institutions, and non-governmental organizations. They develop minimum-impact methods in cave inventory, restoration, speleothem repair, and caving ethics; design environmental photomonitoring systems for surface and subsurface environments; and provide field support to a variety of scientific cave research projects. The couple has served the National Speleological Society (NSS) as Conservation Division Chiefs since 1999 with more than 100 published papers. Val and Jim coordinated and edited Cave Conservation and Restoration, a comprehensive, award-winning volume describing field-proven techniques in state-of-the-art cave conservation, restoration, speleothem repair, and low-impact caving ethics, published by the NSS in 2006. Both are Fellows of the NSS, received Certificates of Merit for their work on the book, and were recognized individually as recipients of the Victor Schmidt Conservation Award. Members of the Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association, Inc. granted the inaugural award for Outstanding Contribution to Cave and Karst Management to Val and Jim for their editorship of and contributions to Cave Conservation and Restoration, with “congratulations to the NSS on the breadth and excellence of this volume.”

Val Hildreth-Werker and Jim C. WerkerConservation and Management

Val Hildreth-Werker and Jim C. Werker have been working to improve cave conservation protocols and restoration techniques for over 30 years. They bring research and development backgrounds to cave and karst conservation—Jim, with 34 years at Sandia National Labs as a mechanical engineer in tooling design, fabrication, pressure safety, and materials research and Val, as a commercial medical/surgical photographer for Texas Tech University School of Medicine with 35 years as an outdoor education advisor.

Jim and Val conduct cave conservation workshops internationally for government agencies, institutions, and non-governmental organizations. They develop minimum-impact methods in cave inventory, restoration, speleothem repair, and caving ethics; design environmental photomonitoring systems for surface and subsurface environments; and provide field support to a variety of scientific cave research projects. The couple has served the National Speleological Society (NSS) as Conservation Division Chiefs since 1999 with more than 100 published papers. Val and Jim coordinated and edited Cave Conservation and Restoration, a comprehensive, award-winning volume describing field-proven techniques in state-of-the-art cave conservation, restoration, speleothem repair, and low-impact caving ethics, published by the NSS in 2006. Both are Fellows of the NSS, received Certificates of Merit for their work on the book, and were recognized individually as recipients of the Victor Schmidt Conservation Award. Members of the Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association, Inc. granted the inaugural award for Outstanding Contribution to Cave and Karst Management to Val and Jim for their editorship of and contributions to Cave Conservation and Restoration, with “congratulations to the NSS on the breadth and excellence of this volume.”

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Mike MansurConservation and Management

I began caving with my Father in 1968 in Vermont, and became a Life Member of the NSS in 1985. I began my cave restoration experience in 1986 at the Carlsbad Caverns Restoration Field Camp with Rich Wolfert as the project leader. I was the project leader for the 1995 Carlsbad Caverns Restoration Field Camp. Since 1986 I have led and/or participated in dozens of volunteer work trips including cave restoration, formation repair, mineral inventory, surveying, impact mapping, helium study, and science trips in Lechuguilla Cave, Carlsbad Caverns, and many Guads caves. I was the trip leader of the survey team in Lechuguilla Cave on March 31, 1991, when Emily [Davis] unfortunately broke her leg. I am also currently the project leader for the Lechuguilla Cave Restoration Project, and the Cottonwood Cave Formation Repair and Restoration Project.

Mike MansurConservation and Management

I began caving with my Father in 1968 in Vermont, and became a Life Member of the NSS in 1985. I began my cave restoration experience in 1986 at the Carlsbad Caverns Restoration Field Camp with Rich Wolfert as the project leader. I was the project leader for the 1995 Carlsbad Caverns Restoration Field Camp. Since 1986 I have led and/or participated in dozens of volunteer work trips including cave restoration, formation repair, mineral inventory, surveying, impact mapping, helium study, and science trips in Lechuguilla Cave, Carlsbad Caverns, and many Guads caves. I was the trip leader of the survey team in Lechuguilla Cave on March 31, 1991, when Emily [Davis] unfortunately broke her leg. I am also currently the project leader for the Lechuguilla Cave Restoration Project, and the Cottonwood Cave Formation Repair and Restoration Project.

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Allan CobbU.S. Exploration

Allan Cobb began caving in the 1979 around San Antonio and then met NSS cavers in 1981. Since then, Allan has caved throughout the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. He has also caved in Europe, Asia, and Caribbean. Allan is a veteran of many caving expeditions exploring and mapping long and deep caves as well as working with archaeologists exploring, mapping, and studying caves. He is a member of the Bexar Grotto, Hawaii Grotto, and Paamul Grotto.

Allan CobbU.S. Exploration

Allan Cobb began caving in the 1979 around San Antonio and then met NSS cavers in 1981. Since then, Allan has caved throughout the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. He has also caved in Europe, Asia, and Caribbean. Allan is a veteran of many caving expeditions exploring and mapping long and deep caves as well as working with archaeologists exploring, mapping, and studying caves. He is a member of the Bexar Grotto, Hawaii Grotto, and Paamul Grotto.

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María Alejandra PérezCulture of Caving

I am an Assistant Professor in the Geography Program at West Virginia University’s Department of Geology and Geography. A cultural anthropologist by training, I study the cultural and historical context of scientific practice. This means that I approach science as a cultural activity. Speleology (cave science and exploration) serves as a case study with which I examine a range of topics such as identity (Who are we? What brings us together?), place and emotion (How do places become meaningful? Why is it that we come to love some places more than others?), and value (How do we come to value, beyond economic considerations, places that are hidden or not part of our everyday livelihoods?). Really, these questions are relevant well beyond caves, karst, and even bunkers, another site of research!
I have a family link to the caver world. Both my godfather and father were speleologists in Venezuela, my country of origin. I have done research there, in Cuba, the continental US, and now I am developing a project in Puerto Rico. The Cuba research is actually international in scope: the project examined the history and present activity of collaborations and networking between US and Cuban speleologists. This 3 year research project was funded by the National Science Foundation. “Caver Villages: Community, Sense of Place, and Conservation of the Underground” is a second ongoing project in collaboration with John Wilson. I am now starting research on caver contributions to Caribbean cave archaeology with my WVU colleague Martina Caretta. In 2019, I became an NSS Research Fellow, and in 2020 received the Speleological Society of Cuba’s 50th Anniversary Gold Medal, both extraordinary honors. I have also been on the Board of the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias since 2014. I live in Morgantown, WV, with my husband, three girls, and our schnauzer, Gunner. You can learn more about my work in my website (www.geo.wvu.edu/~mperez).

María Alejandra PérezCulture of Caving

I am an Assistant Professor in the Geography Program at West Virginia University’s Department of Geology and Geography. A cultural anthropologist by training, I study the cultural and historical context of scientific practice. This means that I approach science as a cultural activity. Speleology (cave science and exploration) serves as a case study with which I examine a range of topics such as identity (Who are we? What brings us together?), place and emotion (How do places become meaningful? Why is it that we come to love some places more than others?), and value (How do we come to value, beyond economic considerations, places that are hidden or not part of our everyday livelihoods?). Really, these questions are relevant well beyond caves, karst, and even bunkers, another site of research!
I have a family link to the caver world. Both my godfather and father were speleologists in Venezuela, my country of origin. I have done research there, in Cuba, the continental US, and now I am developing a project in Puerto Rico. The Cuba research is actually international in scope: the project examined the history and present activity of collaborations and networking between US and Cuban speleologists. This 3 year research project was funded by the National Science Foundation. “Caver Villages: Community, Sense of Place, and Conservation of the Underground” is a second ongoing project in collaboration with John Wilson. I am now starting research on caver contributions to Caribbean cave archaeology with my WVU colleague Martina Caretta. In 2019, I became an NSS Research Fellow, and in 2020 received the Speleological Society of Cuba’s 50th Anniversary Gold Medal, both extraordinary honors. I have also been on the Board of the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias since 2014. I live in Morgantown, WV, with my husband, three girls, and our schnauzer, Gunner. You can learn more about my work in my website (www.geo.wvu.edu/~mperez).

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Pete JohnsonWest Virginia Exploration

Pete Johnson has been caving for 13 years. In that time he has had the good fortune to be involved in survey projects such as Germany Valley, Lechuguilla, Tears of the Turtle, Double Bopper (Grand Canyon), and more. He lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a lifetime member of the NSS.

Pete JohnsonWest Virginia Exploration

Pete Johnson has been caving for 13 years. In that time he has had the good fortune to be involved in survey projects such as Germany Valley, Lechuguilla, Tears of the Turtle, Double Bopper (Grand Canyon), and more. He lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a lifetime member of the NSS.

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Aaron MosesWest Virginia Exploration

Aaron has been a caver and member of the Blue Ridge Grotto for 17 years. During that time, he has primarily been involved in the Germany Valley Karst Survey, but has occasionally caved in other parts of the southeast US, or joined expeditions in Mexico, Austria, or Croatia.

Aaron MosesWest Virginia Exploration

Aaron has been a caver and member of the Blue Ridge Grotto for 17 years. During that time, he has primarily been involved in the Germany Valley Karst Survey, but has occasionally caved in other parts of the southeast US, or joined expeditions in Mexico, Austria, or Croatia.

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Dr. C. Jean Robaina SánchezCulture of Caving

A native and resident of Cuba, Jean Robaina recently received his doctorate based on research focusing on the educational value and applications of speleological practice, particularly among young children. Robaina has been an active caver and member of the Speleological Society of Cuba (SEC) for over 20 years. He is currently the president of Artemisa’s SEC Provincial Committee. His principal contributions to Cuban speleology are educating a new generation of Cuban geography teachers. As president of the caving club “Origen,” he has mentored more than a dozen university students in creating their own caving club, the “Grupo Caverna,” which in 2019 was inducted into the SEC. In 2018, Robaina planned and led an extraordinary experience bringing West Virginia University Student Grotto and Caverna members together in a field trip that involved hiking, caving, and interacting with rural communities in western Cuba’s Guaniguanico Range.

Dr. C. Jean Robaina SánchezCulture of Caving

A native and resident of Cuba, Jean Robaina recently received his doctorate based on research focusing on the educational value and applications of speleological practice, particularly among young children. Robaina has been an active caver and member of the Speleological Society of Cuba (SEC) for over 20 years. He is currently the president of Artemisa’s SEC Provincial Committee. His principal contributions to Cuban speleology are educating a new generation of Cuban geography teachers. As president of the caving club “Origen,” he has mentored more than a dozen university students in creating their own caving club, the “Grupo Caverna,” which in 2019 was inducted into the SEC. In 2018, Robaina planned and led an extraordinary experience bringing West Virginia University Student Grotto and Caverna members together in a field trip that involved hiking, caving, and interacting with rural communities in western Cuba’s Guaniguanico Range.

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Peter JonesPottery Demo

Peter Jones has been a member of the NSS since 1969, NSS # 11412 F. In 2002, he was a co-chairman of the NSS Convention in Camden, Maine. Despite living in Camden, Peter spends most of his time in the caves of the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. His two passions in life are those of being a cave photographer for 50 years and being a potter for 49 years. He has created several fundraising projects as a potter to support cave-related events, two of them at and for Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the “Mug the Mortgage” campaign for the NSS. He is in the process of creating 50 Years Underground as a photo book on the caves of the Guadalupe Mountains.

Peter JonesPottery Demo

Peter Jones has been a member of the NSS since 1969, NSS # 11412 F. In 2002, he was a co-chairman of the NSS Convention in Camden, Maine. Despite living in Camden, Peter spends most of his time in the caves of the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. His two passions in life are those of being a cave photographer for 50 years and being a potter for 49 years. He has created several fundraising projects as a potter to support cave-related events, two of them at and for Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the “Mug the Mortgage” campaign for the NSS. He is in the process of creating 50 Years Underground as a photo book on the caves of the Guadalupe Mountains.

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Contact Us

If you have questions about the 2020 NSS Virtual Convention, please contact
Convention Co-Chairs

Rich Geisler
RichG@chemtreat.com

Meredith Hall Weberg
merecaver@yahoo.com