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Going Underground 

Physicist shares six years of caving

Caver and post-doctorate researcher Gilly Elor does what she does best: conducting research far underground. Photo supplied by High Desert Grotto.

Caver and post-doctorate researcher Gilly Elor does what she does best: conducting research far underground. Photo supplied by High Desert Grotto.

She's gone underground in exotic locales such as Slovenia and West Virginia. She's slogged through caverns with water up to her chin. And this week, she's ready to tell you all about it.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, Gilly Elor, a woman who's done more in her mere six years of caving then anyone can imagine, will be the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Oregon High Desert Grotto—part of the National Speleological Society. In case you're wondering, "speleological" indicates an interest in the study and preservation of caves.

If you're already into caves, you want to know more about caving, you're dying to know what it's like to rope down into caves in Mexico, Slovenia, France, Austria or Germany Valley, West Virginia—or you're curious about what it's like to be deep underground in water up to your chin with your head bumping against the ceiling of a cave—be there.

click to enlarge naturalworld1-f8e3a25725174a64.jpg

Elor, 31, has been caught up with caving since she was 10. Back then, she kept coming back to the Moaning Caves near her home in San Francisco. She admits today that she didn't know at the time why she was so attracted to take up caving, but whatever it was, it never let go. On family trips she would ask her family to stop at every cave they passed.

Finally, as she got into physics in college, she made up her mind to really get into caving. It became the opportunity for her to seek something different from the heavy math she was involved in while studying to become a theoretical physicist.

Caving and everything below the Earth's surface soon became her passion. From 2002 to 2007 she earned her bachelor's degree in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, then went right on to her master's in 2007 and 2008. She didn't take a break from her studies, but went right on from 2008 to 2013 to earn her doctor of philosophy Ph.D in theoretical particle physics.

In her capacity as a theoretical physicist she has co-authored several physics papers, among them: "Collinear Superspace Constraints in Hidden Sector Dark Matter"; "Model-Independent Indirect Detection; The Cosmological Axino Problem"; and many others of similar nature. She is now doing post-doctorate work at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

But it will be her adventures in such places as the La Grieta underground complex that will be her topic of the evening at the High Desert Grotto meeting.

Watch Elor gearing up for her descent into La Grieta

High Desert Grotto meeting

Sat. Nov. 12, 5 pm

Rock Arbor Villa's Rec. Hall

2220 NE Hwy 20, Bend

Oh, yes, and the program is free!

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