Dr. Victor Polyak: 2018 winner
Dr. Victor Polyak received his Bachelor of Science degree from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and his Masters and Doctoral degrees from Texas Tech University. Since 1998, he has been a senior research scientist at the University of New Mexico working in paleoclimate and tectonic research using speleothems and sediment from caves around the world. Victor has studied clays and associated minerals occurring in caves of the Guadalupe Mountains, work that has expanded our knowledge of clay genesis in caves. His work has also provided additional information about the geologic history of Carlsbad Cavern and the other caves of that region, including their age of formation and connection to the tectonic history of the region. Another area of study is the timing of speleothem growth in Grand Canyon caves, which yielded useful and new information related to the rate of canyon incision by the Colorado River. Victor also has a great interest in sulfur-related speleogenesis, cave minerals, speleothems, and lava tube cave features. Currently, Victor’s interests are focused on paleo-climatology through the study of stalagmites and other speleothems. Annual banding, fossils, mineralogy, and isotope geochemistry preserved in these speleothems in southeastern New Mexico caves allow the reconstruction of Holocene and Late Pleistocene climate of the southwestern United States. Through continuing research and the need for ever more accurate and precise paleoclimate data, Victor has developed new techniques for dating speleothems and increased the resolution of climate studies using speleothems by a factor of 100. This has allowed near annual resolution of climate data using speleothems from caves around the world providing researchers valuable insight into climate studies, climate variability and landscape evolution.
Victor has had a life-long interest in caves and cave science. In 1985, Victor and Noble Stidham founded the Lubbock Area Grotto of the National Speleological Society. While a graduate student at Texas Tech he was encouraged by Professor Alonzo Jacka to collect samples for study from Guadalupe Mountains caves. The work led to his Master’s Thesis, titled The Mineralogy, Petrography, and Diagenesis of Carbonate Speleothems from Caves in the Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico. Necip Guven, professor and clay mineralogist at Texas Tech, encouraged Victor to continue his cave studies, focusing on clays in Carlsbad Caverns. Using material from his dissertation, Victor and associates published a landmark paper entitled Age and Origin of Carlsbad Cavern and related caves from 40Ar/39Ar of alunite. In 1998, Victor became manager of Yemane Asmerom’s Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory at the University of New Mexico. Since then, Victor and Yemane, through multiple collaborations, have continued studies using caves. Victor has applied age-dating isotope geochemistry to the studies on diverse topics such as paleoclimate, landscape evolution, sea level change and archaeology. Victor is the author or co-author of more than 115 publications on speleology and radiogenic isotope geochemistry. He and his wife, Paula Provencio, reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Dr. James R. Reddell: 2017 winner
James Reddell, a native Texan, is instrumental in studies of not only the biology of Texas and Mexican caves, but their mapping and discovery. He is a true speleologist, in its multidisciplinary sense, from exploration to description to explanation for both biology and geology.
His contributions include:
- Co-founder of both the TCS and the AMCS
- Founded the biospeleology collection at U. of Texas, the only such
collection in the U.S., and probably the world
- Created the North American Biospeleology Bibliography
- Described 74 species, mostly from caves
- Fifty patronymic species
- Collected from more than 1000 caves
- Authored 75 papers
- Authored and/or edited 13 books on speleobiology
- County cave surveys beginning in 1961 with publications on the caves of Travis and Uvalde
- Curator of Invertebrates at the Texas Memorial Museum.
Most importantly, he has put Texas and Mexico on the speleological and biospeleological map, making data available to generations of students and researchers. He has researched biodiversity long before it was popular. He has also spearheaded conservation of caves. He has authored more than a dozen major reports on areas of conservation interest.
Abel Vale: 2016 winner
Dr. David C. Culver: 2015 winner
Dr. Culver received his B.A. in Biology from Grinnell College (1966) and Ph.D. in Biology from Yale University (1970) with the dissertation titled Analysis of Simple Cave Communities. He began his academic career with an appointment as Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Northwestern University in 1971. His career advanced to the level of Full Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology during his tenure at Northwestern that came to an end in 1987. Moving to American University in Washington, DC, in 1987, Culver joined the faculty of the Department of Biology and later led the formation of the Department of Environmental Science in 2008 where he now holds his faculty appointment. Culver has acted as Department Chair in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Northwestern and in Biology at American University, and he has been Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Dean for Science, both at American.
David Culver has conducted cutting-edge research on cave life and published “the” book on that topic: Cave Life (1982, Harvard Univ. Press). His work on biological diversity in cave communities resulted in new concepts of the biogeography of subterranean life. Culver advanced theories about species evolution subsequent to organism isolation in caves that revolutionized our understanding of biogeography. Detailed studies of predation and competition, feeding behaviors, and morphological changes in cave organisms all connected to his insights into evolutionary theory. Sustained efforts to identify and fully describe new species in locations around the world added to his comprehensive study of cave life. Connectivity to the surface environment or among caves added to the complexity of his maturing understanding of cave life and its various adaptations. Culver developed tools to access sampling gaps and quantify species richness that added rigor to studies of cave life. His work on biodiversity and available habitat speaks to issues in species conservation and cave protection.
Culver is a prolific writer. With approximately 90 refereed journal articles, more than 30 book chapters, and 12 books, Culver is educating the world about cave life and about caves. His Encyclopedia of Caves with co-editor William B. White (2005 and 2012, Elsevier Academic Press) is comprehensive and up-to-date. His recent book Biology of Caves and Other Subterranean Habitats with co-author Tanya Pipan (2009, Oxford Univ. Press) extends the textbook coverage of the topic he addressed in his first book in 1982.
Culver is a leader in the karst community. He led the creation of the Karst Waters Institute in 1991. Culver has served KWI as a member of the Board of Directors, Executive Vice-President, and President of KWI. He is currently the KWI Comptroller. Culver is a National Speleological Society Honorary Life Member and Fellow. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Cave Conservancy Foundation and is a member of the Virginia Cave Board.
The science of cave and karst studies would not be where it is today without Culver’s many contributions. Our understanding of cave life derives directly from his life’s work.
Dr. Robert Loucks: Winner for 2014
The 2014 Karst Award honoree was Dr. Robert Loucks. He spoke at the awards banquet on the topic of “How Modern Karst Studies Lead to Understanding the Development and Burial Evolution of Paleokarst Reservoirs.”
Dr. Loucks received a B.A. from SUNY Binghamton and the Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin. He started his research career at the Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin in 1976 and then worked for Cities Service and ACRO research Laboratories until he returned to the Bureau of Economic Geology in 2000 as a Senior Research Scientist and a member of the Jackson School of Geosciences Graduate Studies Committee.
Loucks has conducted research and made contributions in sedimentology and diagenesis of carbonates, sandstones, and mudrocks. In each of these rock types he has concentrated on the origin of pore networks and their evolution during burial; his ultimate goal has always been the improvement of reservoir-quality prediction. His work on pore networks has included discovering nanopore types in shale-gas and shale-oil systems, establishing micropore types and origins in limestones, defining evolution of pore types in sandstones, and characterizing collapsed cavern and fracture systems in carbonate and evaporite paleokarst. His research on carbonate paleokarst has contributed to the understanding of oil and gas in carbonate strata: specifically, the origin of vug/fracture pore networks and the distribution and heterogeneity of reservoirs. The recognition of how and when cave systems collapse with burial has led to identification of such collapsed systems on seismic data. Loucks’ present research on evaporite paleokarst systems is identifying the depositional and diagenetic processes that determine whether evaporite karst will lead to a reservoir or seal.
Loucks is author or co-author of nearly 150 articles, many of them on paleokarst processes and reservoirs. He has been recognized with several research awards, including the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Robert R. Berg Outstanding Research Award and the Jackson School of Geosciences Outstanding Research Award. He was selected as an APPG Dean A. McGee International Distinguished Lecturer, as a Permian Basin Section of SEPM Honorary Life Member Awardee, and as an Honorary Research Fellow, School of Geological Science, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, UK. He has received several best paper and presentation awards, including the 2000 and 2010 Wallace E. Pratt Awards for best AAPG Bulletin paper, 2006 and 2010 A. I. Levorsen Awards for Best Paper, 2008 and 2011 EMD President’s Certificate for Excellence in Presentation, SEPM Excellence of Presentation Award, A. Philpott Excellence of Presentation Award, SEPM Excellence of Poster Presentation Award, and Gordon Atwater Best Poster Award.
Dr. Norman Pace: Winner for 2013
Dr. Pace received an A.B. from Indiana University and the Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He has held faculty positions at several institutions, including the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center, the University of Colorado Medical Center, Indiana University and the University of California, Berkeley. He currently is Distinguished Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Pace works in two scientific arenas. On one hand he is a molecular biologist, and his laboratory has made substantive contrib-utions to our understanding of nucleic acid structure and processing. Noteworthy recent efforts have involved elucidation of the crystal structure and catalytic mechanism of the RNA moiety of ribonuclease P, an enzyme composed of RNA instead of the usual protein. On the other hand, Pace is a microbial ecologist. His laboratory has led the field in the development and use of molecular tools to study microbial ecosystems. This work has led to the discovery of many novel organisms and an understand-ing of some unusual symbioses. The results have expanded substantially the known diversity of microbial life in the environment. Current efforts range from high-temperature environments and human disease to the microbiology of the human-occupied indoor environment.
Pace is a member of the National Academy of Sciences; and he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received a number of awards, for instance the 1996 Procter and Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Microbiology, the 2008 Lifetime Achievement in Science Award from the RNA Society, the 2008 Tiedje Lifetime Achievement Award in Environmental Microbiology from the International Society for Microbial Ecology and the 2001 Selman A. Waksman Award for Distinguished Contributions in Microbiology from the National Academy of Sciences. This is the Nation’s highest award in microbiology. In 2001, he was appointed a Fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additionally, Pace is an expert in cave exploration. He has led and participated in numerous expeditions in this country and internationally. Pace has been elected a Fellow of the National Speleological Society, the Cave Research Foundation and the Explorers Club. He received the Lewis Bicking Award from the NSS for his contributions to American caving.
Jim Goodbar: Winner for 2012
The 2012 KWI Karst Award banquet will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the evening of March 3, 2012,on the University of New Mexico campus in the Science and Mathematics building. This year’s honoree is Jim Goodbar, and he will speak on the topic of “There and Back Again (well not quite): A Cavers Tale.”
Jim began caving at 9 years old with his parents and two sisters in central Texas where the “bug” bit him and he was infected with a lifelong desire to explore, understand, and protect underground resources. Much of his 32+ year career with the Bureau of Land Management has been developing their national Cave and Karst Management Program where he currently serves as the Senior Cave and Karst Specialist for the Washington Office. He assisted in writing the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act, their regulations, and implementation procedures and was instrumental in developing their national cave and karst management policies, manual and handbook, cave management training courses, national and local agreements, national cave safety standards, and guidelines for oil & gas drilling in karst areas. Jim is an Honorary Life Member, Fellow, and past board member of the National Speleological Society, a Fellow of the Cave Research Foundation, and a Charter Life Member of the American Cave Conservation Association. His interests, education, and career have led him into all aspects of cave exploration, science, and karst management. Caving and cave management have taken Jim to 16 foreign countries. Jim has authored over 25 publications on cave and karst management and geology. He earned his BS in Park and Recreation Management from Texas A&M University and conducted his graduate studies in Cave/Karst Geology/Geomorphology at Western Kentucky University in 1979-81.
William “Bill” K. Jones: Winner for 2011
The 2011 KWI Annual Awards Banquet was held in Warm Springs, Virginia, to honor Bill. Bill is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors for KWI, and has served continuously on the KWI Board since it inception. Bill holds a BSF degree in Forest Management from West Virginia University and an MS degree in Environmental Science (Hydrology) from the University of Virginia. He was an adjunct professor of hydrology at the American University, Washington, D.C. He is a Fellow of the National Speleological Society. He studies physical hydrology of surface and ground-water resources with an emphasis on areas underlain by carbonate (karst) aquifers. He has studied karst areas across North America, France, Eastern Europe, China and Southeast Asia. Bill is the author of over twenty papers on karst hydrology and water tracing. He is the author of the “Karst Hydrology Atlas of West Virginia” (1997) and served as the guest editor for a special issue of the National Speleological Society Bulletin on water tracing using fluorescent tracers (1984). He wrote the chapter on water tracing for the Encyclopedia of Caves (2005). He is the first author of Recommendations and Guidelines for Managing Caves on Protected Lands (2003), prepared for the U.S. Department of the Interior. He is a consultant to the US Army Environmental Center on the remediation of hazardous wastes in karst aquifers on military bases. He also studies ground-water movement in fractured aquifers and statistical characterization of water resources. Current research projects include the problems of instrumenting small catchments for measuring precipitation and flows for water balance studies. He and his wife, Lee Elliott, reside in Chimney Run Farm in Bath County, Virginia, where he runs his own hydrology consulting firm, Environmental Data.
Dr. William R. Jeffery: Winner for 2010
The 2010 KWI karst award went to Professor William R. Jeffery of the University of Maryland, College Park. Professor Jeffery is the world’s expert on the developmental and evolutionary genetics of the Mexican Cave Tetra, Astyanax mexicanus. He has authored numerous scholarly papers on this fish, including a synthesis and summary published in 2009 in the Annual Review of Genetics. His work is the most convincing evidence that loss of eyes is the result of selection and not from some random process. His enthusiasm and well-earned success in genetic and experimental manipulation of this fish have led a generation of young researchers to take up Astyanax as a model system for studying eye loss and evolution in general. A past president of the Society for Developmental Biology, he is also an avid caver, a life member of the National Speleological Society, owner of Henpeck Mill Cave in Tennessee, and a founding member of the D.C. Biospeleology Discussion Club.
Dr. Janet Herman: Winner for 2009
The 2009 award dinner was held to honor Dr. Janet Herman from the University of Virginia. The dinner was held at the Homestead Preserve “Old Dairy Barn,” Warm Springs, Virginia. Dr. Herman received her Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. Her general research interests focus on low-temperature aqueous geochemistry, whereby she studies problems in water-rock interactions, kinetics of geochemical reactions, and the evolution of groundwater chemistry in various hydrogeological environments, including caves and karst. She is the past recipient of the Association for Women Geoscientists Outstanding Educator Award, and the Geological Society of America Hydrology Division’s Distinguished Service Award.
Dr. Tom Kunz: Winner for 2008
The 2008 award dinner of the Karst Waters Institute in honor ofDr. Tom Kunz was held in Cobleskill, New York. Dr. Kunz is a Professor of Biology and the Director of the Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology at Boston University, where he has been on the faculty since 1971. He received a BA in Biology and MA in Education from the University of Central Missouri, a MA in Biology from Drake University, and a Ph.D. in Systematics and Ecology from the University of Kansas. His research focuses on the ecology, behavior, evolution, and conservation biology of bats. At the time of the award, he authored or co-authored more than 240 publications and is the editor or co-editor of numerous books, including the 2nd edition of Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Past-President of the American Society of Mammalogists, and a recipient of the Gerrit S. Miller Jr. Award for outstanding research on bats and the C. Hart Merriam Award for outstanding contributions to the discipline of mammalogy. In addition to the Karst Award in 2008, he was elected to honorary membership in the American Society of Mammalogists (the highest award given by the society). He has conducted field research in mid-western, northeastern and southwestern regions of the United States, and in India, Malaysia, Ecuador, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica.
Dr. Tadej Slabe: Winner for 2007
Dr. Slabe is the Head of the Institute of Karst Research Institute, Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Under his leadership, the Karst Research Institute has become a true international center for karst research and education, through the development of numerous bilateral programs with other countries and the growth of the annual Karstology School.
His research area is the geomorpholoogy of karst, and he has pursued this research not only in the Dinaric karst, but also in Spain, France, Iran, Japan and China.
Ronal Kerbo: Winner for 2006
The 2006 award dinner of the Karst Waters Institute in honor of Ronal Kerbo was held in Lafayette, Colorado. Mr. Kerbo retired from the National Park Service after 31 years. At the time of his retirement, he was the Service’s national cave and karst program coordinator and the acting director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute. Currently, an adjunct professor at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado, teaching a course titled “The Geology and Evolution of Caves.” Among many other speleological associations, he is an Honorary Life Member and a Fellow of the National Speleological Society; a Fellow of the Cave Research Foundation; a former director and now honorary director of the American Cave Conservation Association and a former board member of the Karst Waters Institute.
Dr. Nicholas C. Crawford: Winner for 2005
The 2005 award dinner of the Karst Waters Institute in honor of Dr. Nicholas C. Crawford was held at the Cave Research Foundation headquarters in Hamilton Valley, Kentucky. Dr. Crawford is a professor of Geology in the Department of Geography and Geology at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He founded the Center for Cave and Karst Studies within the Applied Research and Technology Program at Western Kentucky University. More than a thousand students from around the country, including many or today’s top practicing karst scientists, have taken courses in the WKU Karst Field Studies Program. Dr. Crawford has over twenty-five years of educational and research accomplishments in the field of cave and karst science. At the time of the award, he had authored more than 200 technical reports dealing primarily with ground-water contamination of karst aquifers.
Dr. Arthur N. Palmer: Winner for 2004
The 2004 award dinner of the Karst Waters Institute was held in Oneonta, New York, in honor of Dr. Arthur N. Palmer. Dr. Palmer is a Professor Emeritus of Hydrology and Geochemistry at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta. He is the former director of the Water Resources program at the school. His achievements in science and exploration of caves and karst include the National Speleological Society’s Science Award, as well as SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for teaching and research, and a Distinguished Teaching Professorship. He is a member of the Cave Research Foundation and British Cave Research Association, a fellow of the National Speleological Society and recipient of the Science Award, and a Certificate of Merit. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and the recipient of a Kirk Bryan Award from the Geological Society of America for his benchmark paper on the origin and morphology of caves. At the time of the award, he authored over 100 publications, including the 2007 book, Cave Geology. Art served many years on the board of directors and executive positions for the Karst Waters Institute.
Dr. Patty Jo Watson: Winner for 2003
The 2003 award dinner of the Karst Waters Institute was held in Charles Town, West Virginia, in honor of Dr. Patty Jo Watson. Dr. Watson is an archaeologist renowned for her work on Pre-Columbian Native Americans, especially in the Mammoth Cave region of Kentucky. She is now a Distinguished University Professor Emerita, Archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis, having retired in 2004 as the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Archaeology at Washington University. She received her PhD. from the University of Chicago in 1959. She began her work in Salts Cave, Kentucky, a portion of the world’s longest cave system in Mammoth Cave National Park, in the 1960’s. The research developed into a long-term project on the agricultural origins in Eastern North America.
Dr. John R. Holsinger: Winner for 2002
The 2002 award dinner of the Karst Waters Institute in honor of Dr. John R. Holsinger was held at Highland Farm near Charles Town, West Virginia. In an age of increasing specialization, when scientists know more and more about less and less, John Holsinger knows more and more about more and more. A Professor of Biology at Old Dominion University, he was trained as a biologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, James Madison University, and the University of Kentucky, John is the premier subterranean amphipod taxonomist and systematist in the world. At the time of the award, he had discovered and described over 200 new species, most of which are rare and endangered. But he has done much more than that. An active caver for nearly 50 years, he is responsible for the discovery of more Virginia caves and the mapping of more Virginia caves than anyone else. His publication Descriptions of Virginia Caves in 1975 remains the definitive source of information about Virginia caves. John has long been concerned about environmental threats to caves and cave faunas, and he was largely responsible for the establishment of the Virginia Cave Board and the enactment of the Virginia Cave Law. He has been an inspiration to and leader of cave scientists and recreational cavers for many years. Dr. Holsinger was the thesis advisor for our second award honoree Dr. Jill Yager.
Dr. William B. White: Winner for 2001
The 2001 award dinner of the Karst Waters Institute in honor of Dr. William B. White was held at Smithfield Farm near Berryville, Virginia. Dr White developed an early interest in caves and karst and started serious caving with an undergraduate summer job at Lincoln Caverns in 1951. In the 1950s he conducted investigations of many caves in central Pennsylvania and the Greenbrier Valley in West Virginia and has continued world-wide karst research projects for fifty years. Dr. White frequently collaborates with his wife, Dr. Elizabeth L. White, on karst hydrology studies and has been the advisor to numerous graduate students working on karst related topics. At the time of the award, Dr. White authored of over 84 research papers and four books dealing with karst. He was one of the first researchers in the United States to directly apply the laws of chemistry and physics to explain many of the seemingly mysterious characteristics of karst landforms. His papers on karst related topics cover a remarkably diverse range of specialties including geomorphic studies of karst drainage basins, hydraulics of water flow through limestone caves, kinetics of carbonate dissolution, transport of sediments through caves, and the mineralogy of cave formations (speleothems). He is now retired from his dual appointment in the Department of Geosciences and in the Materials Research Laboratory at The Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Jill Yager: Winner for 2000
The annual Karst Waters Institute Award Dinner was held in Charles Town, West Virginia, to honor Dr. Jill Yager. Dr. Yager has been exploring and studying submerged caves for over 20 years. She began cave diving in the Bahamas where she discovered a new class of crustacean which she named the Remipedia. She studied remipedes for her doctoral dissertation under Professor John Holsinger at Old Dominion University. Her research deals with the ecology of submerged caves, studying the physical environment and community of animals that live there. Her research has taken her to the beautiful and highly endangered caves in Quintana Roo, Mexico, and sites throughout the Carribean. Dr. Yager has appeared in several educational television programs. In August she and cave biologist Abel Perez were filmed in Cuba for a new National Geographic television program called “Sea Secrets.” At the time of the award, Dr. Yager was an associate professor in the Environmental and Biological Sciences Department of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Dr. Derek Ford: Winner for 1999
The first annual Karst Awards Dinner was held in Charles Town, West Virginia, to honor Dr. Derek Ford. Throughout his career, Dr. Ford has expanded the frontiers of karst science and published a rich body of research furthering the understanding of speleogenesis, karst geomorphology, geochronology, paleokarst, paleoclimate, and other karst processes and phenomena. At the time of the award, Dr. Ford had recently retired from McMaster University and received the rank of Professor Emeritus. His tenure at McMaster University included the supervision of the graduate programs of numerous students who have gone on to become prominent karst scientists.