The Hoffman Environmental Research Institute, established in the 1980s, is one of twelve research centers at Western Kentucky Universiy (WKU). It is housed within the Department of Geography and Geology at WKU. At the time of its establishment, it was among one of the first centers dedicated to research and education about environmental problems, particularly those related to cave and karst environments, in the United States and internationally. It has continued this initial mission through its history and has now been involved in virtually all aspects of basic and applied cave and karst research.
The Hoffman Institute, is comprised of three full-time faculty members, a graphics designer, laboratory manager, environmental research specialist, and multiple student employees who work on a variety of research projects, maintain the technological interfaces for the Institute, and assist in the Institute's Crawford Hydrology Laboratory. Although it is supported by WKU, it is dependent on external funding provided through grants and other awards to support its projects.
The mission of Hoffman Environmental Research Institute is to be a leader in basic and applied research that aims to better understand landscape/atmosphere/water/human interactions. The Institute involves post-doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students in all aspects of this work to increase their critical thinking skills and technical expertise in the environmental discipline, and, through extensive international collaborations, prepare these students for success in a global society. The Institute has attracted outstanding undergraduate and graduate students from around the world, including multiple regions of the United States. Past center research associates have been very successful in obtaining positions with both government agencies and private firms throughout the United State and internationally.
Collectively, the objectives of the Hoffman Institute are:
- to be a research center dealing with all aspects of environmental studies, with particular emphasis on solving environmental problems associated with karst landscapes and groundwater
- to provide educational experiences and opportunities for undergradate- and graduate-level students
- to promote outreach and provide educational materials about environmental issues to both adults and children members of the general public
- to provide public national and international service by assisting individuals, private firms, and government and non-government agencies with environmental problems and management