UT Research

The UT researchers below work on varied aspects of caves ranging from geology and biology of caves.

Jay Banner
Professor and Dave P. Carlton Centennial Fellow in Geology
Director, Environmental Science Institute (ESI)
Field of Study: Carbonate and Groundwater Geochemistry, Earth System History
Short Biography: Dr. Banner’s research interests include the application of field, petrologic, chemical and isotopic methods to studying the chemical evolution of groundwater and ancient oceans, and the control of changing climate on these processes. Modern aquifers and ancient limestones and cave deposits provide excellent records of these processes.

Christopher Bell
Assistant Professor and John A. Wilson Fellow in Vertebrate Paleontology
Field of Study: Vertebrate Paleontology
Short Biography: Dr. Bell’s research centers on understanding the complex dynamics of vertebrate faunal communities during the Quaternary Period. Chris is interested in investigating patterns of vertebrate evolution, biodiversity and biogeography throughout the Quaternary, and the responses of different vertebrate groups to the various changes in climate that took place during the last two million years. Two major current research areas are: 1) the study of early and middle Pleistocene (Irvingtonian) North American arvicoline rodent biochronology, and 2) the study of anatomy and systematics of extant and fossil turtles and squamate reptiles (lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians).

Philip Bennett
Professor and John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Centennial Teaching Fellow
Field of Study: Aqueous Geochemistry, Geomicrobiology
Short Biography: Dr. Philip Bennett teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in aqueous geochemistry, hydrogeology, field methods in hydrogeology, and graduate courses in environmental organic geochemistry and geochemical kinetics. He also teaches the undergraduate Geology for Engineers course. Dr. Bennett’s research is primarily in the area of environmental groundwater geochemistry, silicate dissolution kinetics, and geomicrobiology. He is particularly interested in examining the role of minerals and mineral-bound nutrients in subsurface microbial ecology, and the role of subsurface microorganisms in accelerating rock weathering.

Eric James
Analytical Geochemist
Field of Study: Isotope Geochemistry, Igneous petrologist. and Analytical Chemistry
Short Biography: Dr. James received a Ph.D in 1986 from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
He is trained as an isotope geochemist and igneous petrologist. His dissertation work on rocks of the Salinian Block of California showed that these rocks have clear affinities with North American basement. His postdoctoral studies at Caltech involved the petrology and isotopic character of rocks from a deep scientific drilling project on the San Andreas Fault. Eric came to the University of Texas in 1989 to work at the Bureau of Economic Geology. He investigated the isotopic geochemistry of igneous rocks of Trans-Pecos Texas, mapping the southeastern extent of Laurentian basement using Pb isotopes. After moving to the Department of Geological Sciences in 1993, he worked on rocks and ores in the Ertsberg Mining District of Irian Jaya, Indonesia and continued work on the 87Sr/86Sr of Paleozoic seawater using conodont elements.
Eric now splits his time between the Environ-mental Science Institute (ESI) and geochemical research. He is currently preparing grant proposals; measuring U-series ages on speleothems; assisting with outreach lectures; organizing working group meetings; measuring the 87Sr/86Sr of conodonts, anhydrite, and red-fish otoliths; drilling small holes in samples, and dealing with a back-log of unpublished manuscripts.

Dean Hendrickson
Texas Memorial Museum Curator
Short Biography: (Curator of Ichthyology): Phylogeny, evolution, ecology and conservation of freshwater fishes and aquatic habitats, focusing on western North America (U.S.A. and Mexico). Studies of karst biota provide indicators of aquifer interconnections, with an eye toward applications of such data in environmental impact assessments throughout the large karst regions of Texas and northeastern Mexico.

Ernest Lundelius, Jr.
Professor Emeritus in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Texas
Short Biography: Dr. Ernest Lundelius is well known for his paleontological work in central Texas and Australia. He made major contributions as the Director of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory as he began an initiative to catalog the fossil collections in a computer database. Dr. Lundelius remains an active researcher and continues to work with students and to do field work.

Barbara Mahler
United States Geological Study Hydrogeologist
Short Biography: Dr. Barbara Mahler is a Research Hydrologist with the Water Resources
Division of the U.S. Geological Survey. Dr. Mahler’s research focus is on karst hydrogeology and sediment-associated contaminant transport. Over the past five years, she has co-authored 11 articles in peer-reviewed publications, co-authored 11 technical reports, and presented research results at numerous national and international meetings. Dr. Mahler received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin; she was a NSF-NATO International Postdoctoral Fellow, spending one year in Montpellier, France, investigating bacterial transport in karst.

MaryLynn Musgrove
Postdoctoral Fellow and ESI Outreach Lecture Coordinator
Short Biography: MaryLynn Musgrove is in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. She received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003. From 2001 thru 2003 she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in both the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the Kennedy School of Government. Her research interests include geochemical and isotopic applications to hydrogeology and paleoclimatology, groundwater and aquifer response to climate change, water resource issues, terrestrial paleoclimate, and the interface between environmental science and science policy.

George Pollak
Professor of Neurobiology
Short Biography: George Pollak received his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Maryland Medical School in1970. After completing his postdoctoral work in the Department of Biology at Yale University, he joined the faculty at the University of Texas in 1973. Dr. Pollak has had extensive collaborations with scientists both in the U.S. and in Europe. He was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Frankfurt, the University of Munich, the Neuroscience Institute of Salamanca University in Spain, and at the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center at the University of Washington Medical School. His research has earned numerous awards, including a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health, a prestigious Alexander Von Humboldt Award, and a Claude Pepper Award from National Institute of Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders in recognition of his contributions to auditory neuroscience. Dr. Pollak also received a President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas at Austin. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Texas and is Professor of Neurobiology there.

John Sharp, Jr.
Professor and Chevron Centennial Professor in Geology
Short Biography: Dr. Sharp’s hydrogeological research covers flow in fractured rocks, thermohaline free convection, fracture skin effects, regional flow in carbonate rocks, hydrology of arid and semi-arid zones, subsidence and coastal land loss, effects of urbanization, and alluvial aquifers. Jack has long-term interests in the hydrogeology of sedimentary basins and hydrological processes in ore deposit formation.