Category Archives: awards

Save the Date! March 27, 2021 – Karst Award for Dr. Annette Summers Engel

How it started? How it’s going! One Speleologist’s Journey into Darkness

Photos of Annette Engel

Please join us for the 2021 KWI Awards Ceremony and Karst Award for Dr. Annette Summers Engel.

Date: Saturday, March 27, 2021
Time: 2:00-4:30, with lecture at 3:15 pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings Time; UTC-04:00)
Venue: Zoom (you must register using one of the forms below)

The Karst Waters Institute is pleased to announce that the Karst Award winner for 2021 is Dr. Annette Summers Engel of the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. Please join us on Saturday, March 27, 2021 for presentation of the award, a presentation by Annette, and networking opportunities with other karst/cave scientists. Click here to learn more about Dr. Engel.

KWI looks forward to seeing you at the Awards Ceremony to celebrate Annette’s award, hear a presentation by Annette on her work and adventures, and enjoy an afternoon of conversation and companionship with fellow scientists and friends. The meeting is from 2:00-4:30, with the awards lecture at 3:15 pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings Time; UTC-04:00). A detailed schedule is provided below.

To register, please click on the appropriate link below:

Student Registration (free – the $10 cost has been covered via donations from KWI Board Members)

Professional Registration ($20)

Both forms will eventually take you to a Zoom registration link upon completion. You must complete the final part of the Zoom registration page to be able to attend the meeting – you will receive a Zoom link for the meeting and confirmation from KWI President Janet Herman once your registration is complete. For security reasons, only those who have registered can attend the meeting. If you do not already have a Zoom account, you can make one at that time. Registration closes immediately prior to the start of the meeting.

Schedule of Events

Time EDT Event Host
2:00 Welcome and what is KWI, including introduction of Board of Directors and Officers Harvey DuChene, Chair, Board of Directors
2:05 Plans for today’s event Janet Herman
2:10 Sulfuric acid weathering conference announcement Jenn Macalady
2:15 Critical Zone lecture series announcement Matt Covington
2:20 KWI Distinguished Service Award Janet Herman
2:25 Announcement of 2021 Wilson Award Janet Herman
2:30 Past Wilson winners research updates Janet Herman
2:40 Get to know who is here – breakout rooms (thematic)
3:10 Introduction of 2021 KWI Karst Award Recipient – Annette Engel Harvey DuChene, PJ Moore
3:15 Lecture and Q&A:  How It Started? How It’s Going! One Speleologist’s Journey into Darkness Annette Engel
4:00 Group discussion of activities in karst science (ask anyone in the room anything)
4:30 End

Once registered, you can join the meeting at any time.

KWI Karst Award for 2020: Prof. Stein-Erik Lauritzen

The Karst Waters Institute will present the 2020 Karst Award to Dr. Stein-Erik Lauritzen, Professor of Speleology and Quaternary Geology at the University of Bergen, Norway, at the 9th Conference Climate Change: The Karst Record (originally scheduled to be held in Innsbruck, Austria, in June, 2020 but canceled due to COVID-19).  This location is appropriate because Dr. Lauritzen organized the first karst climate conference, in Bergen, in 1996.

Dr. Lauritzen received a Cand. Real. (Candidatus realium) degree from the University of Oslo in 1979 with a major in organic chemistry.  He remained at the University of Oslo as a research associate until 1985 but switched his research interests from organic chemistry to nuclear chemistry.  In 1987 Dr. Lauritzen joined the faculty of the University of Bergen where he advanced to full professor in 1999.  He very early recognized the importance of speleothem age-dating and established a laboratory for uranium-series isotope measurements.  Very much the international scholar, Dr. Lauritzen has traveled widely to the karst areas of the world and has held appointments at the Racoviță Institute of Speleology in Cluj, Romania and the Karst Institute of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences in Postojna, Slovenia.  Generous in sharing his expertise, many of his papers are co-authored with karst researchers throughout the world.

Dr. Stein-Erik Lauritzen is an outstanding example of what cave and karst science is all about. As befits a scientist with the title of professor of speleology, Dr. Lauritzen’s 160+ technical papers span almost every aspect of the cave-related sciences but can be divided broadly into three categories:  Geomorphology of caves and karst landscapes, karst processes and aquifer studies, and paleoclimate, paleobiology, and archaeology.  At the basic data end of the scale, there are cave maps and scientific cave descriptions.  There are descriptions of stripe karst, there are hydraulic interpretations of scallops, there are interpretations of the origin of maze caves.  On the more theoretical end of the scale, there are analyses of the dissolution process and the hydraulics of karst water flow.

Perhaps the most important discovery in the karst-related sciences is that isotope and trace element profiles in speleothems provide a high resolution climatic record.  The ability to use uranium/thorium isotope dating to provide an absolute time scale for the speleothem record has moved cave science from the fringes to the mainstream of science.  Dr. Lauritzen is one of the pioneers in this endeavor.  He established the first Quaternary uranium-series dating laboratories in Scandinavia and has continuously updated this laboratory as new experimental experiment techniques appear.  His published work includes paleoclimate and also applying isotope dating to paleontological studies.

2020 Wilson Scholarship applications now open

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 15, 2020.  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 (

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 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…

2015 KWI Karst Award – Dr. David Culver

The Karst Award is an award given annually to an outstanding member of the cave and karst field.

Karst Award winner for 2015: Dr. David C. Culver

The 2015 Karst Award honoree is Dr. David C. Culver. He will speak at the March 14, 2015, awards banquet on the topic of “Why Study Cave Life?”

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.