Category Archives: awards

Save the date! KWI Awards Dinner March 3, 2018 in Albuquerque, NM

The Karst Waters Institute is pleased to announce that the Karst Award winner for 2018 is Dr. Victor J. Polyak of the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque. Please join us at the University of New Mexico Student Union Building, Room Acoma A&B, at 6:30 pm, March 3, 2018 for presentation of awards and to hear Victor’s talk, Combining Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry and Speleology. KWI looks forward to seeing you at the Awards Dinner to celebrate Victor’s award and enjoy an evening of conversation and companionship with fellow scientists and friends.

Event: Annual Karst Waters Institute Awards Dinner honoring Dr. Victor Polyak

Date and Time: March 3, 2018, 6:30 pm

Location: Room Acoma A&B, Student Union Building, University of New Mexico Campus

Cost: $40/person

Please use this form to RSVP.  Hope to see you there!

Payment via Credit Card/PayPal:

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

Payment by check:

please contact Harvey Duchesne at

About Dr. Victor Polyak:
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.


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.