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U.N. review team gives ‘excellent’ rating to WKU-led water resource project

Officials of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have given a review panel’s “excellent” rating to the 2008 efforts of the “Global Study of Karst Aquifers and Water Resources” project led by WKU, the organization recently announced from its headquarters in Paris, France.

The major focus of the U.N. funding is to support communication between scientists from countries around the world working on various earth science and environmental issues — in this case, water resources from limestone karst aquifers, which have been estimated to supply drinking water to 25 percent of the world’s population.

Dr. Chris Groves, director of WKU’s Hoffman Environmental Research Institute within the University’s Applied Research and Technology Program (ARTP), serves as the program’s Project Leader within UNESCO’s International Geoscience Program. The project’s three co-leaders are Yuan Daoxian of China’s Institute of Karst Geology in Guilin, Bartólome Andreo-Novarro of Malaga University in Spain, and Heather Viles of England’s Oxford University.

In its comments, the UNESCO review panel cited the “very high level” of the project’s scientific quality and “scientific output in terms of papers in international journals.” The reviewers also appreciated the project’s “active collaboration with researchers from developing countries.”

“A key benefit for WKU is that the project provides outstanding opportunities for geoscience students to participate in research projects and to interact with scientists from around the globe,” Groves said.

Over the past eight years, for example, Hoffman Institute graduate students have made numerous trips to China to work on U.N.-affiliated projects there. Geoscience students have also participated in, and given presentations at, related U.N.-sponsored conferences, including recent ones in Greece, Spain and Switzerland. Two related conferences in Bowling Green over the same period have brought some 200 scientists from more than 20 countries to the WKU campus.

Geography and Geology Department Head Dr. David Keeling noted that “the applied research program lead by Dr Groves and his team has engaged students and community members in partnerships that focus much needed attention on water resources. Water is the planet’s most threatened resource and this UNESCO rating is validation of the important research that the Hoffman Institute is conducting in collaboration with partners around the world.”

Contact: Chris Groves (chris.groves@wku.edu) at (270) 745-4555.

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