Author Archives: Karst Waters Institute

KWI Karst Award Dinner Saturday, March 30, 2019 in Blacksburg, Virginia

Event: Annual Karst Waters Institute Award Dinner honoring Wil Orndorff
Date and Time: Saturday, March 30, 2019, 5:30 pm (There will be live music by One-Eyed Jack at Rising Silo from 2-5pm before the dinner, and continuing later in the evening)
Location: Rising Silo Brewery, Blacksburg, Virginia
Cost: $40/person ($50 per person after March 15)

The Karst Waters Institute (KWI) is pleased to announce that the Karst Award recipient for 2019 is Wil Orndorff of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Please join us on Saturday, March 30, 2019 for presentation of the award, a presentation by Wil, and a casual fundraising dinner at the Rising Silo Brewery in Blacksburg, Virginia to benefit KWI. A portion of your entry price supports the Wilson Scholarship for students. Tickets for the event are $40 apiece ($50 if purchased after March 15), and include full dinner buffet  featuring:

  • choice of braised pulled pork shoulder or roasted chicken
  • herb grits, roasted root vegetables, & braised greens
  • green salad with dressing and sunflower seeds
  • rolls with butter and olive oil
  • fruit crisp for dessert
  • one ticket good for a brew of your choice (beer or non-alcoholic)

KWI looks forward to seeing you at the Awards Dinner to celebrate Wil’s award, hear a presentation by Wil on his work and adventures, and enjoy an evening of conversation and companionship with fellow scientists and friends.

Please make your dinner choice by submitting the RSVP form: click here

We look forward to seeing you there!

Payment via Credit Card/PayPal (nonrefundable):

For instructions on how to pay by credit card without a PayPal account, click here.

Payment by check:

please contact Benjamin Schwartz at

About Wil Orndorff:

A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Wil Orndorff drank karst water while looking for caves on the family farm where he was raised, as well as within and around the adjacent abandoned quarry. Introduced to the formal caving world at the age of 18, his interest in caves, karst waters, and geology grew into both a career and a life-long passion. With a bachelors degree from Johns Hopkins and a masters in geology from Virginia Tech focusing on Appalachian tectonics in hand, Wil entered the professional karst world as a self-employed consultant performing karst analyses of the potential impacts of a proposed high voltage power line corridor on karst springs and bat habitat along its path. These analyses included multiple dye traces in cave systems developed in the limestones of middle Ordovician age that host many of Virginia’s larger cave systems. This work gave Wil the credentials needed to secure his dream job as a karst specialist with the state, where he became Virginia’s second karst protection coordinator when Terri Brown, his supervisor, returned to graduate school, leaving large shoes to fill. This job became Wil’s career, and afforded him the opportunity to do the work he loved protecting the resources he cared about. The nature of the job turned Wil into a jack of all trades karst who wears many hats: geologist, hydrologist, conservationist, educator, explorer, and, increasingly, biologist. Wil has had the opportunity to work with a long list of experts across this spectrum, including among many others John Holsinger, Dave Culver, Dan Doctor, Dave Hubbard, Jim Kennedy, Mike and Andrea Futrell, Phil and Charlotte Lucas, Chris Hobson, Roy Powers, Matt Niemiller, Bill Balfour, Larry Smith, Rick Reynolds, Carol Zokaites, Bob Denton, Tom Malabad, Joel Maynard, Shane Hanlon, Joey Fagan, Jerry Lewis, Madeleine Schreiber, Mike and Katarina Ficco, Dan Fong, Karen Powers, and of course his wife and partner in crime, Zenah. One of the most satisfying parts of his career has been seeing folks who worked with him while in college or graduate school like Ben Schwartz and Ben Hutchins achieve great success in the academic karst world, albeit in Texas for those two. Wil has authored or coauthored papers on dye tracing, karst aquifer dynamics, site occupancy by stygofauna, epikarst recharge processes, speleogenesis,conservation planning, utility corridor evaluation, ecology of Gray bats, response of bat populations to White Nose Syndrome, and biogeography of cave invertebrates. His work has resulted in the establishment of two natural area preserves protecting significant caves, and additions of several tracts containing significant caves to existing preserves. Through the VA DCR Office of environmental project review, Wil has helped to avoid or mitigate impacts to hundreds of caves with the help of the Virginia Speleological Survey, with whom he is a director at large in his spare time. Wil’s current projects include the hydrology of ebb and flow karst systems, dynamics of the phreatic aquifer of the Shenandoah Valley, use of the landscape by Gray bats, revision and development of natural community definitions for karst systems, Cenozoic landscape evolution in the central Appalachians, and the biological inventory of Virginia’s designated significant caves. Wil lives in Blacksburg, Virginia with his wife Zenah, in a home frequently visited by their two grown daughters Travertine and Naomi, as well as the usual caver riff raff.

The William L. Wilson and Diane C. Wilson Scholarship in Karst Science

The William L. Wilson and Diane C. Wilson Scholarship in Karst Science recognizes the significant contributions of the late William (Bill) L. Wilson, who tackled some of the most difficult karst science questions in Florida and elsewhere through his consulting company, Subsurface Evaluations, Incorporated.  To stimulate the development of new, energetic, motivated, and creative karst scientists and to remember Bill Wilson and his dedication to karst science, the scholarship was established by Diane C. Wilson in his memory.  The scholarship includes a one-time award of $1,000.  The scholarship is open to any student who is currently enrolled in, or has been accepted into, a master’s degree program at an institution of higher education in the United States.  This year’s deadline for all application materials is February 1, 2019.  Information on how to apply can be found at the Karst Waters Institute website Wilson Scholarship Page.  Additional information can be had through email to Dr. Janet S. Herman (

2017 Friends of Karst Mini Symposium

2017 Friends of Karst Mini Symposium

Friday, November 10th, 2017 from 1 to 5pm
West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV – Room TBA

Calling out regional cavers, karst scientists, and anyone else who’s interested in all or any matter related to caves and karst: Join us for an afternoon sharing latest research, exploration, and/or conservation projects, with a regional focus. We will have mix of short talks and a poster session. After the symposium, we will head to the Morgantown Brewing Company for drinks and light fare.

For more information and to register for the event, please visit our registration page.  Please RSVP by November 1, 2017 so that we can put together a list of talks and finalize the room details. Logistics and more information are available here.

Please let either of us know if you have any questions. Looking forward to seeing you in November.

Dorothy Vesper
Associate Professor, Geology Program
West Virginia University

Maria Perez
Assistant Professor, Geography Program
West Virginia University

Thanks to our WVU sponsors: The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Geology and Geography, and the Institute of Water Security and Science

KWI is co-sponsor of the Fifteenth Sinkhole Conference & Third Appalachian Karst Symposium

KWI is proud to be a co-sponsor of the 15th Sinkhole Conference and 3rd Appalachian Karst Symposium! As one of the most successful and well-known international meetings on karst science and engineering, the conference will be returning to the Appalachian region in 2018, to be held at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia April 2-6, 2018. Abstracts for presentations and corresponding papers published in the conference proceedings will be accepted through August 31, 2017 (draft papers due Oct. 1). For more information and abstract submittal, please visit


The KWI Karst Award is given annually to an outstanding member of the cave and karst community. The 2017 Karst Award honoree is James R. Reddell.










James spoke at the awards banquet on March 4, 2017, at 6:30 pm, at The Price Center in San Marcos, Texas, and was presented the award at a dinner banquet, during an evening of celebration and conversation about the awardee and our fascinating karst resources.

James gave a presentation titled:

The Cave Fauna of Texas: 1995-2015

If you missed the event and would still like to make a donation, please send a check to:

Karst Waters Institute
P.O. Box 4142
Leesburg, VA 20177

Or, pay vial credit card or PayPal (for instructions on how to pay with a credit card, click here)

All PayPal transactions are subject to a 2.9% plus $0.30 USD fee to cover KWI’s transaction costs. These costs will be added to your cart automatically. 

We look forward to our next honoree in 2018!

Congratulations to Kimberly Hetrick, winner of the 2017 Wilson Award

Kimberly Hetrick is a master’s student at Northeastern Univeristy, studying environmental engineering. In 2014, she graduated from Lehigh University with a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering, where she researched biofilm growth in natural systems, advanced oxidation processes, and aquaponic farming. At Northeastern University, her research focus is on the effects of suspended sediment on the electrochemical groundwater remediation of karst aquifers. After graduation, Kimberly aspires to continue working with the PROTECT center at Northeastern University to continue on to her PhD.

More information – Wilson Award

Wilson Scholarship application due February 1, 2017

The William L. Wilson Scholarship in Karst Science was established in 2002 to recognize the significant karst science contributions of the late William (Bill) L. Wilson.  Bill Wilson used a variety of techniques, and unusual creativity, to tackle some of the most difficult karst science questions in Florida and elsewhere.  He developed a leading karst consulting company in the United States, Subsurface Evaluations, Inc.  To stimulate the development of new, energetic, motivated, and creative karst scientists, and to remember Bill Wilson and his dedication to karst science, the scholarship has been established in his memory.

The scholarship includes recognition at the KWI spring banquet, a plaque naming the awardee, and a one-time award of $1,000.

Completed applications are due by February 1, 2017.

For more information or to apply, click here.

Save the Date – March 4th, 2017 – Karst Award to James Reddell


The KWI Karst Award is given annually to an outstanding member of the cave and karst community. The 2016 Karst Award honoree is James R. Reddell. Please join us to celebrate and to learn about the fascinating biodiversity found in caves and karst systems.

James will speak at the awards banquet on

The Cave Fauna of Texas: 1995-2015

Please join us on March 4, 2017, at 6:30 pm, at The Price Center in San Marcos, Texas, for presentation of the award at a dinner banquet, and for an evening of celebration and conversation about the awardee and our fascinating karst resources.

Payment and reservation information coming soon…

23rd International Conference on Subterranean Biology

KWI is happy to be a cosponsor for the 23rd International Conference on Subterranean Biology, to be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA, from June 13 to June 17, 2016. This will be the first ICSB held in the United States, where the many caves and karst features in the area will be showcased for scientists and students from the U.S. and from around the globe who have an interest in subterranean biology.

For more information, please go to