SCCi's Volunteer Chief Scientist is board elected to provide guidance on conservation goals for the organization and reviews permit requests to conduct research on SCCi preserves. This vital role depends on extensive experience in conservation as well as a corresponding field of cave science such as hydrology, geology, biology, etc.
Serving the next term will be Dr. Hazel Barton, a professor and Director of the Integrated Bioscience program at the University of Akron. Her research focuses on understanding microbial interactions and adaptations to starvation in caves. Dr. Barton also investigates the role the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans plays in the White-nose Syndrome epidemic in bats, which has been funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Her work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, Forbes, National Geographic Explorer, Outside, Science News, The Scientist, Popular Mechanics, Wired, Geo and The Smithsonian magazines, in the book Extreme Scientists: Exploring Natures Mysteries from Perilous Places, on NPR and BBC Radio, on Animal Planet, the History Channel, National Geographic National Geographic, the CBS Early Show, BBC TV and in the IMAX movie Journey into Amazing Caves.
You can learn more about Dr. Barton's research here: https://www.cavescience.com/
We would like to thank our most recent Volunteer Chief Scientist, Dr. Jan Simek for serving 3 years and sharing his expertise in the archeological value of caves. Dr. Simek is the foremost authority of Cherokee syllabary and has served at the University of Tennessee as Head of the Anthropology Department, as the 24th President of the University of Tennessee, and was named President Emeritus by the Board of Trustees when he stepped down from that position. In 2001, Dr. Simek was named Distinguished Professor of Science in the UTK College of Arts and Sciences. We are grateful for his service and contributions to SCCi.