WKU geoscientist awarded medal by Chinese Geological Survey
- Tuesday, October 8th, 2019
WKU University Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology Chris Groves returned home last week from Guilin, China where he was honored with a medal by the Chinese government for more than two decades of Geology and Water Resources research.
The award was conferred in Guilin by Dr. Li Pengde, Deputy Director General of the China Geological Survey, where Groves was attending the China-ASEAN International Forum on Innovation and Cooperation for Sustainable Development. Director of the Crawford Hydrology Lab within WKU’s Applied Research and Technology Program (ARTP), Groves has been working in China for nearly 25 years with a focus on hydrogeology and water-related environmental problems in rural areas of the country’s southwest. This is a spectacular karst region, in many ways similar to that of southcentral Kentucky, where caves, sinkholes and large underground rivers are common. There are also severe water resource challenges there, and several of the karst-rich provinces of the southwest are among China’s poorest in part due to environmental conditions.
Deana Groves, Department Head for WKU’s Library Technical Services, has been an integral partner in this work since their first visit to China together in 1995.
It was a busy week in Guilin, where Groves also joined geologists from around the world helping to teach a hydrogeology training course under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). His graduate student Charlie O’Connell, from New Bern, North Carolina, was a student in the course and gave a presentation on natural resource protection efforts at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Groves and O’Connell also met with officials from the South China Karst World Heritage Site (SCK WHS) representing Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Barclay Trimble to discuss ongoing collaboration with the national park and WKU. Both Mammoth Cave and the SCK WHS have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites having globally significant geologic and ecological significance. Jessica Williams, a student in WKU’s Chinese Flagship Program from Boone, Kentucky, helped to translate written materials into Chinese in preparation for the meeting.
Professor Ke Peng, Academic Director of the Chinese Flagship, noted that “Dr. Groves’ work is of paramount significance to both learners of the Chinese language and learners in Geoscience. It truly exemplifies how creative professors like him help learners build, reinforce and expand their discipline knowledge with the use of their language skills to solve real-life problems, while at the same time, learners can connect local issues to global phenomena by accessing and evaluating information from diverse perspectives. I wish more and more students from this community will follow his footsteps and pass on the legacy.”
On his way home Groves travelled through Beijing, where he was honored at the “Reception for Foreign Experts Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.” This event, held at the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square, was a banquet attended by more than 2,000 guests. Groves was seated at one of the five head tables, sharing a personal toast with China’s Vice Premier Han Zhang.
During the decades of collaboration between Groves and his Chinese colleagues, many WKU students, faculty and staff have travelled to China to participate in the collaborative research programs and numerous Chinese scientists have visited WKU. In 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping presented Groves with the International Cooperation in Science and Technology Award of the People’s Republic of China, China’s highest award for foreign scientists, for “great contributions to China’s hydrogeology and karst geology fields.”