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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Autumn 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, she 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.
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.
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. She plans to complete her Mahurin Honors College capstone thesis project through the Crawford Hydrology Lab studying waterborne contaminants in South Central Kentucky.
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 plans to study the Glen Dean Limestone in Mammoth Cave National Park to support his Mahurin Honors College capstone thesis project.
Ms. Norman is a student of The Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University pursuing dual majors in Biology, and Environmental Science, Sustainability, and Geographical Studies. Katie is also participating in the Joint Undergraduate-Masters Program (JUMP) at WKU, which enables her to earn a Master's in Geoscience in tandem with her undergraduate work. Originally from Louisville, KY, her research interests include microplastics, general contaminant transport, and water quality. She plans to focus her research on studying the impacts of microplastics on freshwater aquatic biota in karst environments.
Ms. Lane is a student of The Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky currently in her junior year working towards a Bachelor of Science 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.
Ms. Davis is an undergraduate researcher at Western Kentucky University graduating with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Environmental, Sustainability, and Geographical studies in December 2022. She is a volunteer lab and field assistant with the Crawford Hydrology Lab where she aims to increase her research experience in preparation for graduate school. After graduation, she plans to continue her passion for studying sharks and earn a Master of Science in Marine Biology in Florida. Outside of class, she likes to travel, play with her dogs, and get outside.
Ms. Summers is an undergraduate researcher at Western Kentucky University currently in her senior year pursuing a major in Geology with a minor in Chemistry. Shelby’s interests include mineralogy, isotopic geochemistry, radioactive isotopes, water quality, and bioremediation. During her time at WKU, she has conducted a diagnostic analysis of mineral samples to assist in creating a mineral catalog for Great Onyx Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park. After graduation, she plans to become a professional geologist.