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Sistema Cheve 2018 Personnel

Kristen Anderson, USA
Kristen Anderson grew up in Northern Indiana where, sadly, there were no caves nearby. When she arrived at college she joined the local grotto and was introduced to the small, tight Massachusetts and upstate New York caves. It was awesome. Since then she has moved to the DC area and is currently involved in the Kimble Pit survey in Germany Valley, West Virginia. This will be Kristen's third expedition and she is very excited. Outside of caving she also enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, and ceramics. Kristen is an aerospace engineer and works on TESS, a satellite which will look for planets outside of our solar system.

Oscar Berrones, México
Oscar Berrones has been a caver for over 30 years. His caving career began while he was in his teens, when he became a member of the Red Cross and ASMAC (Asociación Scout de México Asoc. Civil) in San Luis Potosí, México, near the Sierra de Álvarez. His weekends were spent in vertical caves and deep pits, including Golondrinas, Guaguas and Sótano del Barro. He was one of the founders of APME Club (Asociación Potosina de Montañismo y Espeleología) and has explored over 500 caves in the Sierra de Álvarez alone. Oscar became a full cave diver after he found sumps in some of the caves in the area. He has been a part of cave rescues, led expeditions in the Sierra de Álvarez, and plans to continue his cave and cave diving projects. He lives in Austin, Texas and is a member of the UT Grotto. Oscar has a passion for cave photography, and loves training his 13-year-old daughter to become a caver. He is self employed as a sustainable home builder, and he and his wife dream of retiring on their land in the mountains of San Luis Potosí.

Kasia Biernacka, Poland
Kasia Biernacka is an expedition caver and cave photographer based in Poland. Kasia has been exploring deep caves for 16 years, mainly in Spain (Picos de Europa) and in Mexico. She participated in 8 expeditions to Sistema Cheve in the Sierra Juárez, Oaxaca (Cheve, J2 and Cueva de la Mano) and in 3 expeditions to Sistema Huautla in the Sierra Mazateca, Oaxaca (Sótano de San Agustín and La Grieta). You can see her pictures from the caves at kasiabiernacka.com/caves. During the 2013 expedition to J2 Kasia was one of the underground cameramen filming for the Discovery Channel documentary "The Cave". She loves Mexico where she studied and she speaks good Spanish. When Kasia is in Poland, she works for Ladek Mountain Festival as Film Competition Director. Photo by Mikołaj Harasimowicz.

Derek Bristol, USA
Derek Bristol began caving in 1989 and is involved in the exploration, survey, and cartography of several significant caves including Sistema Huautla, Mammoth, Jewel, Wind, Fort Stanton, Carlsbad, and Lechuguilla Caves; as well as several significant caves in his home state of Colorado. He is also an accomplished climber, having completed several significant dome climbs. In addition to mapping and climbing, he has recently focused on producing a series of videos on cave trips and caving technique that are hosted on YouTube.

Adam Byrd, USA
Adam got his start caving in 2003 with the West Virginia University Student Grotto, then spent several years caving in the TAG region. Most of his current efforts are focused on the exploration of the caves of Germany Valley, West Virginia. He also participated in the 2015 expedition to Sistema Huautla. He enjoys long walks in gypsum sand boreholes and LED-lit cave gruel dinners. He is an avid rock climber, and works as an engineer in the powder metal and 3D printing industry.

Matt Covington, USA
Matt grew up caving in Arkansas, and first became interested in expedition caving as a teenager while reading the account of the 1994 USDCT caving expedition to Huautla in National Geographic. Since then he has participated in caving expeditions to Alaska, Sumatra, Peru, México, France, Slovenia, Croatia, and Lechuguilla. Matt has participated in every USDCT expedition in the Cheve area since 2004. In 2009, he was one of the few lucky team members to camp and explore beyond the sump in J2, and co-led the 2010 expedition that connected Last Bash and J2.

After finishing his PhD in theoretical astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2008, Matt switched fields and began working on mathematical models of cave development and hydrology. After a 2-year postdoc at the Karst Research Institute in Slovenia, Matt joined the Geosciences faculty at the University of Arkansas, where his research still focuses on understanding the processes that form caves.

Yvonne Droms, Switzerland
Yvonne Droms started caving in 1967 in Portugal. After moving to the USA, she joined the National Speleological Society in 1985 and has been caving ever since. She is very active in exploration and survey in the extensive cave systems of Virginia and West Virginia. She teamed up with Bill Stone in completing the then-longest bolt-climb in West Virginia by scaling a 306-foot dome in Hellhole. Starting in 2001, she has participated in numerous expeditions to the deep, vertical caves of Mexico: Cheve, Huautla, and J2 in Oaxaca, and in the Purificación area of Tamaulipas/Nuevo León.

Yvonne is a Swiss citizen who grew up in Portugal. She is a retired translator, having worked for Rosetta Stone in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and speaks seven languages. Her two children are mathematicians. Yvonne spends her free time caving and helping with caving publications, and also enjoys hiking, skiing, backpacking and mountain bicycling.

Sonia Dudziak, Poland
Sonia began her adventure with caves in 2015. She took part in two European expeditions: Tennengebirge in the Austrian Alps and Prokletije in Montenegro. Throughout the year she explores the caves in the Tatra Mountains and constantly improves her rope skills.

Tomasz Fiedorowicz, Poland
Tomek has been caving for 25 years and training young cavers for 15. For four years he was the head of the Warsaw Caving Society. He has had the opportunity to cave and discover new caves all over the world (Poland - Tatra; Austria - Lamprechtsofen; Papua New Guinea - Nakanai; México - Sistema Cheve, J2, and Cerro Rabón; Switzerland - Windgällen). It seems that every discovery he has made so far was done just by chance, especially finding once the deepest cave in the world.

Tomek has 20 years experience running his own business, and 10 years experience being an HR professional. He has two daughters, eight and five years old, and leaving them for a couple of weeks seems to be the biggest challenge of the whole expedition for him.

Mike Frazier, USA
Mike Frazier enlisted into the world of organized caving in 1990. Since then Mike has coordinated the exploration and mapping of the Hurricane Cave system in Colorado which is currently the deepest known granite cave system in the world. Mike has participated in around 30 caving expeditions which have included trips led by American, Swiss, British, Canadian, and joint Mexican/Austrailian teams. During these trips he has assisted in the exploration of many of México's 1000m deep caves. He has also caved in Guatemala, Belize, Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Switzerland. Mike is currently a co-leader of the Proyecto Cerro Rabon as well as the Proyecto Sierra Mazateca.

Mike's education was obtained primarily in the alleyways and deep and dark recesses of the earth. He is currently owner/tree surgeon for Frazier Tree and Shrub Inc.

He also knows Bart Hogan, who can order McMaster Carr from anywhere.

Marcin Gala, Poland
Marcin Gala has been a caver for 22 years. He participated in exploration expeditions to Austria, México, Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico and Spain. He's fascinated by cave photography and cave diving. Usually he goes for expeditions with Kasia Biernacka and their daughter, Zuzia. They have been exploring in Sierra Juarez with Bill Stone since 2001. Marcin works as a rope access technician on the Norwegian Sea.

Katie Graham, Canada
Katie isn't known to ease into things. In her first month of caving she began sketching and participated in a Castleguard expedition, the longest glacial river cave in the world. She spent the last decade exploring caves in the Rocky Mountains, and has caved in the United States, Jamaica, France, China, Barbados and many expeditions to Mexico including big caves of Sistema Purificación, Sistema Huautla and now Cheve.

Favourite moment caving: clamoring up a blank cave wall into a small hole. I felt a blast of cold air in my face and knew this was the passage that connected two caves and made the deepest cave system in Canada. I've never crawled and chimneyed so I fast; I needed to prove the connection was true. It was.

Katie is an accountant by day and caves and canyons most weekends.

Corey Hackley, USA
Corey began caving in the small caves of western Maryland during early childhood. By age 10, he had begun to take an interest in actively discovering and documenting new caves. Most of his caving activity has been focused in Maryland, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, where he has been involved in the documentation or discovery of over 100 new caves, although he has visited caves in most every Appalachian state. In 2011, Corey co-discovered a deep and challenging cave system in Western Maryland, which has been pushed to a length of roughly two miles and a depth in excess of 400 feet. This is both Maryland's first multi-mile cave system, and the deepest cave currently known and publicized in the northeastern United States.

Corey is deeply interested in the interaction of structural geology with hydrology in karst aquifers, and in how this interaction is expressed in cave morphology. He works as a geologic interpreter, electrician, and general handyman at Crystal Grottoes Caverns of Maryland, where he is presently engaged in developing a hydraulic system for removing clay fills from cave passages. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy.

Mary Hicks, USA
Mary Hicks grew up in Oklahoma and has been drawn to caves and caving since childhood. She is an explorer at heart and delights in the underground world and its challenges, beauty, mystery, and potential for discovery. She has been a member of the National Speleological Society for over 10 years and has spent time caving in Oklahoma, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Kentucky, Texas, Mexico, France, and New Zealand. She likes creeks and attics, too.

Witold Hoffmann, Poland
After leaving his scientific career in chemistry and biotechnology, Witek followed his overhead diving passion and moved to Sardinia in 2013, becoming a full-time cave diving guide and instructor. After a 7-month-long season underwater, he usually spends the winter in Poland exploring flooded uranium mines, caving and diving in the Tatra mountains.

During his years in Sardinia he explored multiple underwater and dry caves, focusing on Bel Torrente cave where he participated in multisump explorations in 2014, 2015 and in 2016. In 2017 he spent 13 days beyond sump 1 in sistema Cheve.

Passionate about cave photography and videography, enjoying climbing, sailing, traveling and increasing the world's entropy!

Jake Kandl, USA
Jake is a world traveling adventure seeker. From humble beginnings hitchhiking and train hopping to recently living a hunting and gathering lifestyle on tiny islands in the South Pacific, he has been roaming the world in search of the exceptional. Jake currently works for the US National Science Foundation in Antarctica undertaking logistical coordination and scientific support. He is experienced in outdoor survival and enjoys high altitude trekking, geocaching, and exploring the unknown.

Sean Lewis, USA
Sean has done a lot of caving where the discoveries have been inversely proportional to hopes and dreams. He is fond of a big cave with a small heart in Hart County, Kentucky, known as Fisher Ridge. Some will know him by this and his fairly forlorn fancies of boreholes and folk-tales of connections. He may also be found in sundry caving projects in the western USA and in Mexico, some of which might be considered a trifle pleasant. He likes poking in the walls of the big ditch with some folks. Also he likes chasing the tails of winds but never actually finding anything in New Mexico. He doesn't always go caving; sometimes he does physics, which is mostly for fun and misguided idealism.

Jon Lillestolen, USA
Jon Lillestolen began caving in Tennessee in the mid-90s and quickly learned to enjoy deep caves. He has participated in expeditions to the US, Mexico, Spain, France and Costa Rica and has helped with the exploration of six 1000-meter-deep caves. He is an avid caver, climber, and cave diver working on cave projects in his home state of Virginia as well as in West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky.

Alejandra López-Portillo, México
Alejandra started caving in 2008 as part of the Mountaineering Association of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she is now an instructor. She's caved in Mexico with national and international groups. Speleology changed her life and introduced her to a new world full of friends, freedom and love. Alejandra is an Educational Material Writer.

Adrian Miguel-Nieto, México
Adrian Miguel-Nieto has been a member of the Association of Hiking and Mountaineering of the National Polytechnic Institute (AEMIPN Spanish acronym) since 2008. Since then, he has been participating as an instructor in speleology courses and workshops. He has also organized explorations in the Mexican states of Oaxaca (Sierra Mixteca), Puebla (Sierra Negra) and Hidalgo (Sierra Hidalguense). He participated in Proyecto Espeleológico Sistema Huautla (PESH) in 2015 and 2016. Adrian works as a biochemistry teacher.

Mark Minton, USA
Mark Minton has fifty years caving experience in most of the major cave regions of the United States and México. He also participated in three paleontological expeditions (1992-94) to the caves of Madagascar, which visited that country's deepest and longest caves. He has been a leader and/or member of many expeditions to the deepest caves in the Western Hemisphere, including five caves over 1000 meters deep, one of which he discovered. Mark has received several flag awards and exploration grants from the Explorers Club and has had over 250 articles published in various caving journals and the Explorers Journal. He continues to be very active in original exploration in Virginia, West Virginia and Mexico. Mark is the Director of Sponsored Research for the USDCT.

When not caving, Mark worked as an organic chemist for 30 years and is now retired. He lives in Virginia with team member Yvonne Droms.

Ramsés Miranda, México
Ram has been a caver for 12 years. He belongs to UNAM's Association of Mountaineering and also to Espeleo Rescate Mexico (Mexican cave rescue team). He has organized explorations to the Sierra Negra and Sierra Mixteca and has participated in cave exploration projects with national and international groups. Ram enjoys spending his free time applying his knowledge of electronics to design lamps for speleologists. Ram studied physics at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and is currently pursuing a master's in Science Materials applied to solar cells.

Nathan Roser, USA
I got my first taste of caving at the age of 11 in a small West Virginia cave; there were a few more trips before I went to college in Syracuse, NY. There I started caving with the local grotto and caught 'The Bug' in 2010. Since then I've been caving almost every week for the past seven years, which has taken me to over 200 caves in the eastern US, and to China and Mexico. Whether it's multi-day camp trips, sketching virgin passage, hauling gear for sump divers, or teaching caving skills and practice to new cavers, I'm happy to be underground. As one of my best friends put it, 'The best part about caving is the cave.' When not caving I live and work in Syracuse running a small shipping company.

Lauren Satterfield, USA
Lauren Satterfield started caving in 2008 with members of the Dogwood City Grotto in the southeastern USA. She spent her early caving career in this area and fell in love with vertical caving. After several years of recreational caving, she learned the basics of bolt climbing, sketching, and cave photography. She has participated in survey and exploration of the TAG area ever since, and took her first cave rescue training through NCRC (National Cave Rescue Commission) in spring of 2016.

Lauren has been underground in several states in the US and has participated in international expeditions to the Viševnik and Kanin areas of Slovenia in 2015 and 2016 with Matt Covington and the Društvo za raziskovanje jam Ljubljana caving club. Recently, she began exploring new and re-discovered caves in Cyprus, most of which had not been visited since the British left the area in the 1950s. In addition to caving, she enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking. She currently works as a PhD student studying carnivore ecology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Yuri Schwartz, Russia/Sweden  
Yuri started caving in 1979 at the age of four with his father, then an active member of the Novosibirsk State University caving club. Since then he explored caves in Russia, Abkhazia, Switzerland, France, North America, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Slovenia and Montenegro. From 2007, Yuri has been a regular member of USDCT expeditions to deep caves of north-eastern Oaxaca, México.

In his other life Yuri holds a PhD in Biology and is interested in epigenetic mechanisms that control how our genome is used as we develop from a single cell (zygote) to a complex multicellular organism. Currently he pursues his interests as Associate Professor at the Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, Sweden. Yuri is married and has two daughters.

Beverly Shade, USA
Bev Shade started caving in 1991, in local Texas caves, got into big caves in Mexico in 1992, and was hooked. Over the past 25 years she's caved in the US, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Poland, Germany, Slovenia, and Thailand. She finished her MS in Geology from the University of Minnesota in 2002 studying quartzite caves, and worked as an environmental consultant until changing careers. She finished a BS in Nursing from the University of Texas in 2015, and currently works as a registered nurse on a cardiac/infectious disease unit in Austin. She has a special place in her heart for digging, maps, and mentoring cavers who are excited about learning new skills.

Vickie Siegel, USA
Vickie first began project caving in 2004. In total she has spent more than two years working on expeditions in the US, Mexico, Russia, and Nepal. In parallel, Vickie has spent over ten years working with the field robotics team at Stone Aerospace to design, build, test, and field robots designed to explore Europa-analog environments on Earth. In this way she has participated in three field robotics expeditions to Antarctica and led two field campaigns on the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska.

Jolanta Sikorska, Poland
Jola Sikorska is a member of the Warsaw Speleoklub. She has been caving in the Tatra Mountains. Jola has been doing lot of traveling on bicycle and trekking in such regions as Mongolia, Iran, and Siberia. Jola works as a theater teacher, with adults and children. She also has her own theater group "59 minutes" in Warsaw.

Morgan Smith, USA
Morgan grew up in Tallahassee, Florida where he started cave diving in high school, beginning a trend of antics his family has graciously put up with since. It took longer than he likes to admit for him to realize that there were caves filled with air, too. When he found several of these Florida "dry caves" he quickly understood he was enthralled with the underground world in general. After discovering "elevation" upon moving out of Florida, his interests grew to include deep caving and rock climbing. Morgan loves just about anything outdoors and is passionate about preserving wild places through exploration, science, and public outreach. This will be Morgan's third expedition to Mexico, and he is very excited to have the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing endeavor with world-class explorers. Morgan is currently pursuing a PhD in geoarchaeology at Texas A&M University and works for the National Park Service as an archaeologist.

Elliot Stahl, USA
Elliot Stahl started caving in Indiana in 2003. He now lives in Tennessee and spends most of his time caving in the deep caves of the southeastern US. Cheve 2018 will be his 10th deep-caving expedition in Mexico. Elliot has also participated in the exploration of deep caves in Montana, China and Peru. He enjoys climbing above and below ground and works as a field geologist in the environmental industry.

Bill Stone, USA
Dr. Stone has been responsible for organizing and participating in the exploration of Sistema Cheve (-1484m), Sistema Huautla (-1545m), Cueva Charco (-1286m) and J2 (-1229m). During the past 45 years Bill has organized and led 70 expeditions. He has spent more than 9 years in the field on these projects of which 585 days were logged below ground based from underground camps. The longest single mission was 19-1/2 days operating from the -1200 m level of Sistema J2. He has designed seven generations of rebreathers for diving, including the Poseidon Se7eN that will be used in Cueve Cheve in 2017. Bill is the principal author of the Time-Warner book "Beyond the Deep." He is skilled in cave diving, subterranean lead climbing, cartography, rigging and cave rescue.

Jordan Toles, USA
I went from exploring small caves with nothing more than a hardhat and flashlight back in 2009 to sleeping in a hammock over my own excrement at -1200 meters in what could possibly be the world's deepest cave, and I really have no idea how I got from one extreme to the other. Montana is my home caving territory (shout out to the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto), but I actively work on projects in New Mexico, Wyoming, Grand Canyon National Park and Mexico. Professionally, I work as an exploration geologist (50%), farmhand/handyman (15%), lumberjack (5%) and spend the remainder of my time (what is that, like 30%?) enjoying my "pre-tirement" doing activities like caving, mountaineering, canyoneering, volunteering, disappearing, relaxeering, eering, etc. I look forward to someday retiring from all types of rock-based exploration and assuming the responsibility of a wife, mortgage, real job, decreasing term life insurance policy and perhaps a few cats. On second thought, maybe I'll reconsider that and keep caving.

Ángeles Verde, México
Ángeles became a member of UNAM's Association of Mountaineering 11 years ago, where she discovered speleology. Since then she has participated in cave exploration projects in México with national and international groups. Angie is a geologist and has a master's degree in sedimentology and stratigraphy. Her current job is at UNAM's Research Hydrocarbon Program.

Nicholaus Vieira, Canada
I'm close to being one of the most passionate cavers! I live in my Jeep in the Rocky Mountains (Canadian winters are not that bad), so I can feed my addiction to caves and chocolate milk. An example of what I mean by addicted is I average over 200 days caving per year. I love this activity! Somehow I have been holding down a job working as a cave guide in the Canadian Rockies and on Vancouver Island, which has allowed me to have caved in China, Cuba, México, Peru, USA, and of course at home in the mountains in Canada. I am an avid climber and diver (love those miserable Canadian sumps!), which fits well as I am also the expedition leader for the Raspberry Rising project.

Lee White, USA
Lee primarily caves in the TAG region (Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia) where he is currently one of the most active underground rock climbers in the United States, specializing in exploring cave passage from the bottom up. When he is not exploring up underground walls, he also enjoys other varied hobbies such as ridgewalking and digging. He is currently homeless, but has recently made money speculating in Dogecoin.

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