The Crawford Hydrology Laboratory is a nationally leading laboratory for groundwater flow investigations with an emphasis on, but not limited to, karst landscape/aquifer systems. Established in 1979, we provide a range of technical, field, and laboratory services to a diverse, national and international clientele, including federal, state, and local agencies, environmental consulting firms, and individuals. We have extensive experience assisting clients with a variety of fluorescent dye tracing applications including groundwater basin delineation, sewage leaks, dam safety and remediation, contamination source determination, and spring protection.
With over 40 years of combined experience and expertise, our staff offers cost-effective groundwater tracing solutions to help clients solve real-world environmental problems. We are available to assist clients at whatever level of engagement is needed. We can independently design, and manage complete groundwater investigations or simply provide supplies and analysis. We have provided training and experimental design services to assist clients in establishing projects, who were then able to conduct field work themselves and ship the samples to our lab. In these ways projects can be cost effective and we can custom tailor each project to the needs and resources of the client. We also offer expert opinion and reporting relating to karst hydrogeology for engineering and environmental projects.
Past clients include the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Army Corps of Engineers. In the past few years we have provided services to clients in 23 states plus Brazil, Canada, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru.
Chris Groves joined the Center for Cave and Karst Studies, the original research group that would become the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory, as a student of WKU’s karst program founder, Nick Crawford, in 1981. His first dye traces were the following year. He is now University Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology at WKU and CHL Director. He received a PhD in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and has since developed an active international research program in hydrogeology, geochemistry and water resources.
Dr. Groves has helped lead several United Nations scientific programs, including as co-Leader of Project IGCP661 “The Critical Zone in Karst Systems” through 2021. He also serves on the Governing Board and Academic Committee of the International Research Center on Karst under the Auspices of UNESCO. He served as Associate Editor of Hydrogeology Journal, and has published in the field’s leading journals including Groundwater, Water Resources Research, Journal of Hydrology, and Geomorphology.
Additionally, Dr. Groves has led cooperative research in hydrogeology and water resources of the extensive karst region of rural southwest China since 1995. During his 36thtrip to the country, in January 2017 China’s President Xi Jinping awarded Groves the China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, that country’s highest honor for foreign scientists, for “great contributions to China’s hydrogeology and karst geology fields.”
For many years, Groves has studied and explored caves and surface landscapes of Mammoth Cave National Park, including service as an expedition leader, Director, and President of the Cave Research Foundation.
Crawford Hydrology Lab Director, Dr. Chris Groves.
Ms. Bledsoe is the Assistant Director of the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory. She provides project management, professional consultation on tracer test design, advises on hydrologic and water quality monitoring, oversees technical report writing, and supervises CHL staff and students. During her thirteen years with CHL, she has worked on dye traces for groundwater basin mapping, effluent and sewer pipe break investigations, dam leaks, landfill expansions, determining groundwater flow routes from factories and quarries, and determining spring recharge areas for projects across the U.S. as well as China, Jamaica, and Brazil. Ms. Bledsoe is a WKU Karst Field Studies instructor, serves as a technical advisor on undergraduate and graduate research at WKU and partner Universities, and leads dye-tracing workshops in the US and abroad.
Before joining the Crawford team, she worked for private research institutes and the National Park Service on water quality, hydrology, ecosystem restoration, and public health research projects. She is a Registered Sanitarian with the Department of Public Health for the State of Kentucky and is a certified onsite wastewater disposal inspector. Ms. Bledsoe received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science from Tusculum College and Master of Science in Geoscience from Western Kentucky University. Her thesis work was a collaborative effort with the United States Army Corp of Engineers to investigate groundwater flow in the vicinity of Patoka Dam in Indiana to support dam safety risk assessment.
Crawford Hydrology Lab Assistant Director, Lee Anne Bledsoe.
Ms. Singer is the Lab Manager of the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory. Her experience at CHL includes groundwater basin delineation, characterization of groundwater flow, landfill expansions, sewer/septic leaks, underground storage tank releases, water source protection, and studies to inform water quality monitoring locations and evaluate the efficacy of existing groundwater monitoring programs on industrial sites. She supervises and executes day-to-day lab operations including sample processing and analysis, data interpretation, technical report writing, and the lab’s QA/QC program. She also serves as the lead field technician responsible for coordinating logistics as well as sample and data collection for both CHL research and client projects.
Prior to joining the CHL team, Ms. Singer earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Biology from the University of North Alabama in 2015 and completed a Master of Science in Geoscience from Western Kentucky University in 2017. Her thesis work, entitled "The Atmospheric Sink from Carbonate Rock Dissolution: The Ohio River Basin", focused on the geochemical sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide through interactions of acidic rainfall with carbonate rocks.
Crawford Hydrology Lab Manager, Autumn Singer.
Ms. Raines is a graduate researcher and student worker of the Crawford Hydrology Lab pursuing a MS in Geosciences from the Dept. of Earth, Environmental, and Atmospheric Sciences (EEAS) at Western Kentucky University. Her research is supported by the Ogden College of Science & Engineering Research Fellowship, CHL, and EEAS. Meghan's thesis examines the interactions between karst landscapes and atmospheric carbon fluxes in the Great Onyx sub-basin of Mammoth Cave National Park, aligning her interests in caves, karst, and hydrogeology. The outcomes of this research will expand our knowledge of carbon sequestration from carbonate dissolution processes in relatively pristine karst environments, which may be useful in efforts to address climate change.
Meghan received her Bachelor of Science in Geology at Western Kentucky University in 2021. Prior to pursuing her degree in Geology, Ms. Raines enjoyed a successful career in the automotive industry but desired the opportunity to work in a field that would allow her to serve her passion for the environment.
Crawford Hydrology Lab Graduate Researcher; OCSE Research Fellow, Meghan Raines.
Ms. Norman is a graduate researcher and student worker of the Crawford Hydrology Lab pursuing a MS in Geosciences from the Dept. of Earth, Environmental, and Atmospheric Sciences (EEAS) at Western Kentucky University. Originally from Louisville, KY, her research interests include microplastics, general contaminant transport, and water quality. Katie's MS thesis research focuses on the impacts of microplastics on freshwater aquatic biota in karst environments.
Katie is a 2023 graduate of The Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University having earned dual majors in Biology, and Environmental Science, Sustainability, and Geographic Studies. She is part of the Joint Undergraduate-Masters Program (JUMP) at WKU, which enabled her to earn credit toward a Master's in Geoscience while working on her undergraduate degree.
Crawford Hydrology Lab Graduate Researcher, Katie Norman.
Ms. Lich is an undergraduate student majoring in biology, geology, and math in the The Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University who grew up exploring and hiking caves and trails in Mammoth Cave National Park. Her research experience includes an ecology research internship at CloudBridge Nature Reserve in Costa Rica where she studied the relationship between the height of trees and the level of forest floor vegetation. As a Crawford Mahurin Cave Research Fellow in the Crawford Hydrology Lab, her interests focus on the intersection of geology and biology.
Ava is completing her Mahurin Honors College capstone thesis project through the Crawford Hydrology Lab studying waterborne contaminants in South Central Kentucky.
Crawford Mahurin Cave Research Fellow, Ava Lich.
Mr. Strehl is an undergraduate researcher of The Mahurin Honors College majoring in Geology and is a Crawford Mahurin Cave Research Fellow. Will's interests include speleology, karst, and hydrogeology. Will is an avid caver, and likes to spend much of his free time caving. His goal as an undergraduate student is to have as much exposure to different fields of geology as possible.
Will is studying the Glen Dean Limestone in Mammoth Cave National Park to support his Mahurin Honors College capstone thesis project.
Crawford Mahurin Cave Research Fellow, Will Strehl.
Ms. Lane is a student of The Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University and a Crawford Mahurin Cave Research Fellow. Katie is a senior working towards a BS in Environmental, Sustainability, and Geographic Studies as well as a certificate in GIS. Katie's capstone thesis project seeks to provide interpretive resources in American Sign Language to support cave tours at Mammoth Cave National Park. In addition, she conducts independent research on drinking water quality challenges to plain living communities in south-central Kentucky and evaluates the efficacy of low-cost passive filtration techniques to purify water.
After graduating in 2024, she is interested in working for the National Park Service or other related departments. Outside of her studies, Katie enjoys caring for all of her plants and hiking.
Crawford Mahurin Cave Research Fellow, Katie Lane.
Ms. Dukes is a student of The Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University and a Crawford Mahurin Cave Research Fellow. Evie is from Paducah, Kentucky and is currently pursuing a triple major in Environmental Science, Chinese, and Spanish. Her interest in the natural world is evident from her biological research experience at Cloudbridge Nature Preserve in Costa Rica in 2022. She enjoys exploring nature via hiking, photography, and kayaking as well as raising a family of very cute ducks.
Crawford Mahurin Cave Research Fellow, Evie Dukes.