Luncheon: Mel Park
Date: August 11, 2021
400 Vineyards Boulevard
Naples, FL 34119
SPEAKER: Mel Parl (Mel has been an IMCA member since 2019)
TOPIC: “Cave Research and Exploration – Mammoth Cave, KY”
In his 40’s Mel set off on an avocation, mixed with his career as a scientist, of exploring the longest cave in the world, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. This is a story of the most elite of cave exploration, that conducted by the Cave Research Foundation (CRF) an organization of which he eventually became president.
Nobody knows about high-level caving, the kind of people involved in it, what it takes to grind through 13-hour underground trips in order to do important scientific or exploratory work, sleep a few hours back at camp and then get up at 5 a.m. to do yet another hard trip. Nobody knows about the thrill of finding new passage, “virgin cave,” where no human has even been before. Nobody knows of the satisfaction of holding in your head an encyclopedic knowledge of almost 400 miles of underground passage and the history that lays behind the finding and understanding of this vast complex.
Mel Park was raised in Southern California and Honolulu. He has degrees from Stanford (A.B. Biology, 1966) and SUNY Buffalo (Ph.D. Physiology, 1973). Between these two schoolings he and his young bride spent two years in Sénégal as Peace Corps Volunteers. Further research training was done in five years spent at the Max Planc Institut für Hirnforschung in Frankfurt and six months at the University of Vienna. His academic posts have been at Michigan State University and the University of Tennessee College of Medicine.