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WKU GEO Faculty/Staff/Students Attend Two National Conferences

WKU GEO Faculty/Staff/Students Attend Two National Conferences

Students, faculty, and staff from the Center for Human GeoEnvironmental Studies (CHNGES) and Department of Geography and Geology recently attended two national conferences. CHNGES graduate students, Hali Steinmann and Elizabeth Willenbrink, presented their thesis research at the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium (NCKMS) in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Hali presented her research on speleogenesis in the Pennington Formation in Savage Gulf State Natural Area, while Elizabeth presented her research on communication techniques for policymakers and land managers in karst areas. CHNGES faculty, Dr. Pat Kambesis, presented research on fractal analysis of cave developing. Graduate students, Jenna Hammond and Keith Semler, also attended the NCKMS conference.


After the National Cave and Karst Management Symposium, CHNGES was also represented at the 2017 Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Seattle, Washington. CHNGES faculty and staff in attendance at the conference were Dr. Leslie North, Dr. Jason Polk, Dr. Pat Kambesis, and Mr. Caleb Koostra. CHNGES graduate students also attended the conference including Jason Fox, Hali Steinmann, Jenna Hammond, Elizabeth Willenbrink, James Graham, Rachel Kaiser, Allison Quiroga, James Shelley, and Chelsey Kipper. The group proudly staffed a departmental vendor booth for CHNGES, the Department of Geography and Geology, HydroAnalytical, and the Crawford Hydrology Lab. In addition, CHNGES students also volunteered at the GSA Karst Division booth, for which Dr. Polk serves as the Division Chair and Dr. Kambesis the Webmaster and Social Media Coordinator.

 In addition to CHNGES faculty and students, many representatives from the WKU Department of Geography and Geology attended GSA, including Department Chair Dr. Fred Siewers, Dr. Chris Groves (Crawford Hydrology Lab, GEO faculty), Lee Anne Bledsoe (Crawford Hydrology Lab), and Autumn Turner (WKU GEO alum, Crawford Hydrology Lab). Dr. Groves co-chaired a session with several WKU GEO alumni, including Dr. George Veni (National Cave and Karst Research Institute), Dr. Augusto Auler (Instituto do Carste, Brazil), and Mr. Geary Schindel (Edwards Aquifer Authority) titled How Nick Crawford’s Vision Helped Shape Contemporary Karst Science and Education honoring Dr. Nick Crawford (WKU GEO Professor Emeritus), also in attendance, wherein many of Dr. Crawford’s past students and colleagues shared their memories and career successes from work done with him during his productive and successful tenure at WKU. Dr. Leslie North and Elizabeth Willenbrink co-chaired a session on the intersections of geosciences and sustainability.

 Presentations by WKU CHNGES and Crawford Hydrology Laboratory students, staff, and faculty at GSA included:

-          Dr. Jason Polk, WKU GEO, CHNGES faculty: “Recent Developments in Karst Research, Monitoring, and Education in Bowling Green, Kentucky: Continuing the Legacy of Dr. Nick Crawford”

-          Dr. Patricia Kambesis, WKU GEO, CHNGES faculty: “Karst Hydrogeologic Research in the Upper Midwest of the United States”

-          Hali Steinmann, WKU GEO, CHNGES second year graduate student: “No Small Parts, Only Small Caves: Karst Geomorphology of the Upper-Mississippian Pennington Formation, Savage Gulf State Natural Area, Tennessee”

-          Adam Shelley, WKU GEO, CHNGES second year graduate student: “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Flood Management Strategies in Urban Karst Areas”

-          James Graham, WKU GEO, CHNGES second year graduate student: “Using Mobile Eye-Tracking to Inform the Development of Mass Tourism in Iceland Towards the Principles of Ecotourism”

-          Elizabeth Willenbrink, WKU GEO, CHNGES second year graduate student: “Policy Communication and the Impact of Agricultural Communities on Karst Landscapes: An Example from Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam”

-          Lee Anne Bledsoe, WKU GEO, Crawford Hydrology Lab Manager: “The Legacy Continues: Research, Education, and Student Engagement through the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory, Western Kentucky University”

-          Autumn Turner, WKU GEO, Crawford Hydrology Lab former graduate student: “Measuring Inorganic Carbon Fluxes from Carbonate Mineral Weathering from Large River Basins: The Ohio River Basin”

-          Dr. Chris Groves, WKU GEO faculty, Crawford Hydrology Lab Director: “Karst Education and Science at Western Kentucky University”

-          Dr. Pat Kambesis, WKU GEO, CHNGES faculty: “Cave Genesis in the Eastern Great Basin of Nevada and Utah, USA”

-          Rachel Kaiser, WKU GEO, CHNGES second year graduate student: “Assessing Stormwater Impacts and Hydrogeological Influences on Water Quality in an Urban Karst Lake”

-          Allison Quiroga, WKU GEO, CHNGES second year graduate student: “Measuring Carbon Flux in Icelandic Glacial Rivers Under a Changing Climate”

-          Dr. Nick Crawford, WKU GEO, emeritus faculty: “Karst Education And Science at Western Kentucky University”

Throughout the conference, WKU GEO and CHNGES faculty, students, and staff attended many events, including the GSA Karst Division Business Meeting, the Karst Division Social, and the Friends of Karst meeting. At the Karst Division Social, graduate student Adam Shelley was presented with the John W. Hess Research Grant in Karst Studies and Dr. Nick Crawford, Emeritus Professor of Geography and Geology, was presented with the GSA Karst Division Meritorious Contributions Award for his long and meaningful contributions to advance the study of karst around the world over the past 40 years. 


For more information about the WKU GEO and CHNGES programs, contact Dr. Leslie North at

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 Last Modified 5/2/17