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WKU Research Symposium April 18-20 at Mammoth Cave National Park

WKU president, park superintendent to sign agreement to extend partnership; 3-day event to feature 56 research presentations

WKU and Mammoth Cave National Park will open the 11th Research Symposium on April 18 by signing an agreement to extend a mutually beneficial long-term partnership.

The signing ceremony between WKU President Gary Ransdell and Superintendent Sarah Craighead will kick off the three-day symposium at the Mammoth Cave National Park Training Center.

WKU President Gary Ransdell shakes hands with Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead after the two signed a general agreement Monday that provides the framework for continued research collaboration. The ceremony opened the 11th Research Symposium that continues through Wednesday. (WKU photo by Bob Skipper)

WKU President Gary Ransdell shakes hands with Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead after the two signed a general agreement Monday that provides the framework for continued research collaboration. The ceremony opened the 11th Research Symposium that continues through Wednesday. (WKU photo by Bob Skipper)

“The relationship between Mammoth Cave National Park and Western Kentucky University dates back to pre-park years when geology classes first traveled here to study the cave,” Craighead said. “National parks are considered natural classrooms, places where learning can take place in a living environment.”

Celebrating the Diversity of Research in the Mammoth Cave Region is the theme for the April 18-20 symposium, organized and hosted by the WKU branch of the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning. The event is free and open to the public.

Shannon Trimboli, MCICSL education coordinator, said the symposium will include 56 presentations from researchers at WKU, four other Kentucky universities, three Tennessee universities, five universities from other states, Mammoth Cave National Park, four other federal agencies, and two state agencies. Research by multiple citizen scientists/independent researchers will also be presented. (More: The complete schedule is available online at https://www.nps.gov/maca/upload/2016-Symposium-Schedule-of-Events.pdf)

“Events like the research symposium provide people who are interested in Mammoth Cave to meet, share their research, and learn from each other. These multidisciplinary conversations often lead to new collaborations and research partnerships as well as new insights and ideas,” Trimboli said.

Presentations on April 18 will focus on history and archaeology in the cave region. A poster session that afternoon will feature research on archaeology/history, biology/ecology, education/interpretation, geology/hydrology and resource management. The first day will conclude with a special showing of the WKU PBS production of Mammoth Cave: A Place Called Home at 7 p.m. at the Cave City Convention Center.

On April 19, presentations will focus on biology and ecology including research on mussels, small mammals, birds, bats, insects and plants. At 7:30 that evening the Cave Research Foundation will present recent cave surveying maps at the Hamilton Valley Research Facility.

2106 Symposium Schedule of Events

Celebrating the Diversity of Research in the Mammoth Cave Region is the theme of the 11th Research Symposium on April 18-20. The program cover features the McCoy Blue Hole at WKU’s Green River Preserve. The complete schedule is available online at https://www.nps.gov/maca/upload/2016-Symposium-Schedule-of-Events.pdf

The symposium will conclude on April 20 with presentations focused on geology/hydrology, interpretation/education and resource management including groundwater monitoring, hydrogeology, natural resource assessment, citizen science and geoscience research.

“The research symposium is one of many examples of how partnerships like the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning (MCICSL) are beneficial to both the university and the park. The research symposium is being coordinated and organized by the WKU branch of MCICSL and almost half the symposium’s presentations have significant involvement by WKU students, faculty or staff,” Trimboli said.

“For our university students, networking opportunities like these could lead to graduate assistantships or job opportunities in private, state and federal agencies or organizations across the country and in a wide range of fields and disciplines. For WKU faculty and staff, the symposium provides an opportunity to showcase their expertise related to Mammoth Cave National Park, to recruit new graduate students from other universities and to network with other professionals conducting related research.

“The research symposium is beneficial to Mammoth Cave National Park because it provides park management with the most current information available about the resources they are charged with preserving and protecting. Also, because the researchers are presenting their findings, park management can ask questions and discuss the research findings in person.”

WKU faculty, staff and students from Ogden College of Science and Engineering, Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology, WKU Libraries, School of Teacher Education and Gordon Ford College of Business will be part of 21 presentations.

Sponsors include WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering, Northern Kentucky University, Cave Research Foundation, Cave City Convention Center, Friends of Mammoth Cave National Park and WKU PBS.

MCICSL was created in 2004 as a partnership between Mammoth Cave National Park and WKU. MCICSL staff consists of an NPS-based Research Director and a WKU-based Education Coordinator. They are tasked with facilitating research at Mammoth Cave National Park, helping to disseminate the results of that research, and getting the public involved with research through citizen science projects. MCICSL is funded through grants and project funds.

2016 represents the 200th anniversary of guided tours in Mammoth Cave, 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, 75th anniversary of Mammoth Cave becoming a National Park, 35th anniversary of Mammoth Cave National Park becoming a World Heritage site, and 26th anniversary of Mammoth Cave National Park becoming the core of an International Biosphere Reserve.

Contact: Chris Groves, (270) 745-5974

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