Crawford Hydrology Lab Personnel
Chris Groves, Ph.D., P.G., Director
Chris Groves is University Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology at Western Kentucky University where he directs the Crawford Hydrology Lab. 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, with fieldwork in 25 countries. He has been particularly active in the extensive karst region of rural southwest China. In 2017 Groves received the International Cooperation in Science and Technology Award of the People’s Republic of China from President Xi Jinping, China’s highest award for foreign scientists, for “great contributions to China’s hydrogeology and karst geology fields.”
Groves has served as co-leader for several water-focused United Nations scientific programs, including the current project IGCP 661 “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 in Guilin, China. He has served as an Associate Editor for Journal of Hydrology and Hydrogeology Journal, and has published in the field’s leading journals, including Groundwater, Water Resources Research, Journal of Hydrology, and Geomorphology.
Groves participated in his first dye trace in 1982 in Tennessee as a student of karst hydrology pioneer Nick Crawford at WKU’s Center for Cave and Karst Studies, and was hired by Crawford in 1984 as a Research Hydrologist. After several years in graduate school he returned to WKU as a full-time faculty member in 1991, and assumed responsibility for Crawford’s operation—since renamed as the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory—with Nick’s retirement in 2007.
For many years, Groves has studied and explored of the caves and surface landscapes in and around Mammoth Cave National Park. This has included service as an expedition leader, Member of the Board of Directors, and President of the Cave Research Foundation. He serves on the Advisory Council for UNESCO’s Mammoth Cave Area Biosphere Reserve, and works to advance UNESCO science and conservation efforts in the US as a member of the Man in the Biosphere Program’s US Working Group.
Lee Anne Bledsoe, M.S., Research Hydrologist, Assistant Director
Ms. Bledsoe is the Assistant Director of the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory where she serves as project manager for both grant and contract research as well as oversees the lab’s quality control/quality assurance program. In her time with CHL, she has worked on dye traces for groundwater basin mapping, effluent and sewer pipe break investigations, determining groundwater flow routes from factories and quarries, and other environmental and industrial applications.
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 B.A. in Environmental Science from Tusculum College and completed a Master of Science in Geoscience at Western Kentucky University in Fall 2015. Her thesis work was a collaborative effort with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to investigate groundwater flow in the vicinity of Patoka Dam in Indiana to support dam safety risk assessment.
Autumn B. Forschler, M.S., Research Hydrologist
Ms. Forschler serves as a Research Hydrologist for the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory. Her responsibilities include sample processing and analysis, data interpretation, quality control/quality assurance, report generation, and field work. Her experience with CHL includes investigations of groundwater to delineate basins, inform landfill expansion, building and development in karst environments, and identification of flow paths for contaminants entering the groundwater system from various industrial processes.
Ms. Forschler earned a B.S. in Professional Biology from the University of North Alabama in 2015 and a M.S. in Geoscience at Western Kentucky University in 2017. During her time as a graduate student, Ms. Forschler served as a research assistant in the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory. Her thesis work examined the atmospheric carbon flux through carbonate rock dissolution in the Ohio River Basin. This research lead to promising correlations between the area of carbonate rock exposed and volume of water available for rock dissolution and the subsequent development of a model to estimate DIC flux from large river basins in the absence of hydrochemical data. Continuing research interests include aqueous geochemistry of karst systems, carbon cycling, contaminant fate and transport, source water protection, and water resource management.
Affiliate Senior Hydrogeologists:
Joseph A. Ray, M.S., P.G.
Joseph A. Ray currently serves as an affiliate senior hydrologist for the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory at Western Kentucky University, where he designs and supervises karst groundwater flow investigations. After helping map the regional karst drainage at Mammoth Cave National Park in the 1970s and 80s, he worked as a Registered Geologist with the Kentucky Division of Water for 17 years. There he co-developed, with the Kentucky Geological Survey, the Kentucky Karst Atlas project, which leads the nation in compiling state-wide karst hydrologic maps and providing karst data to the public. While with the Division of Water, he conducted more than 350 groundwater tracer tests and has authored or co-authored more than 50 professional publications over the last 30 years. He received a Master of Science from Western Kentucky University in 1975 and a Bachelor of Science from Western Kentucky University in 1973.
Nicholas Crawford, Ph.D., P.G.
Nicholas Crawford currently serves as an affiliate senior hydrologist for the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory at Western Kentucky University, where he designs and supervises karst groundwater flow investigations. He is a professor in the Department of Geography and Geology and the former Director of Crawford Hydrology Laboratory and the Center for Cave and Karst Studies at Western Kentucky University. He has written over 200 articles and technical reports dealing primarily with groundwater contamination of carbonate aquifers. He is also the recipient of more than 200 grants and contracts for hydrological research on environmental problems of karst regions. He is the recipient of the 2006 Western Kentucky University Distinguished Professor Award, the 1985 Outstanding Achievement in Research Award, and the 1996 Professional Public Service Award. He is a Fellow and Honorary Life Member of the National Speleological Society. He received the Kentucky Outstanding Geologist Award in 1998 from the American Institute of Professional Geologists and the Karst Science Award from the Karst Waters Institute in 2005. As a consultant specializing in carbonate aquifers for the past 28 years, Dr. Crawford has worked on numerous groundwater contamination problems for private firms as well as federal, state, and local government agencies.