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Stacy grew up in Albany, Kentucky. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from WKU in 2003 and immediately afterward began working for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service as a Biological Scientist Technician. He currently is a non-traditional graduate student in the Department of Geology and Geography, researching biochar amended soil for dissolved greenhouse gas mitigation in karst groundwater systems. Stacy enjoys spending time with his wife Rachel and their two sons Levi and Asa, whom love to play “Transformers” with dad as Megatron. In his spare time, Stacy likes to race trucks. He is currently building a truck to be raced on a road course and autocross track.


Chelsea Ballard is from Horse Cave, KY and is an undergraduate student studying Karst Geoscience. During her time in the Center, she has completed two research projects (with funding) on carbon transport and tracing in karst environments. Chelsea also interns at Mammoth Cave National Park Science and Resources Management Division where she works closely with scientists under Mammoth Cave National Park and the Cumberland Piedmont Monitoring Network. Her hobbies include caving, surveying and mapping caves, hiking, kayaking, researching a variety of karst topics, and being mom to her parrot, Mango. Reach Chelsea at


Jessica Coffey completed her undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of North Alabama. She became interested in the interaction of geomorphology and climate through field courses and research in the Pacific Northwest. This fueled her growing passion for sport caving to become research-driven exploration and later expanding into her capstone. She aspires to combine these disciplines in her graduate work, studying climatic geomorphology through the medium of caves. She has worked the past year as the Geoscience Specialist for the Natchez Trace National Park and served as lead of the remote sensing team for Dr. Simon Donato’s expeditions to Oman and the Canadian Arctic. Over the summer, Jessica assisted on an expedition to Mt. Hood to better understand the hydrothermal systems within Pure Imagination glacial cave. Shoot her an email at if you want to talk caves, climbing, or kombucha!


Jason Fox is a graduate student from Russellville, KY with research interests in environmental communication, sustainable tourism, and anthropogenic landscape change. As a Joint Undergraduate-Master’s Program student, Jason recently completed undergraduate degrees at WKU in Environmental Science and Music. Jason’s undergraduate honors thesis evaluated the use of choral music as a platform for environmental communication through the WKU Chorale’s performance of his original composition about climate change and tourism challenges in Iceland. Jason has also completed research on sustainable best practices in the Icelandic whale watching industry. For his current graduate thesis, Jason is creating an index to assess tourism-related degradation in cold-climate landscapes. You can probably find Jason composing or exploring the world on Google Earth while listening to a favorite symphony. You can reach Jason at


Jenna is a second-year graduate student from Morehead, Kentucky where she earned her Bachelor’s in Geology from Morehead State University. Jenna quickly fell in love with geology after taking a planetary geology course and developed an intense interest in karst environments and watershed management. Her undergraduate research was titled "Effects of Stormwater runoff on the Quality and Quantity of the Oxley Branch of Triplett Creek, Morehead, KY". Jenna is super passionate about water and keeping it clean is her biggest goal. Her Master’s thesis involves the use of eye-tracking to enhance the educational and entertainment value of guided show cave tours. And, when Jenna isn’t in the office? She works as a Ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park! Email Jenna at


First year graduate student, Anna Harris, is originally from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, but now calls Southeast Alaska home. After graduating from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a bachelor’s degree in Geoscience, she moved to Prince of Wales Island as a Karst Technician for the U.S. Forest Service. The caving life revealed itself to Anna as an undergraduate during a GeoCorps funded summer internship at El Capitan Cave. The interaction between land management and karst terrains, specifically in the Tongass National Forest, continues to capture her passion for the environment and serve as the focus for her research. Anna considers herself a rock hound, with never enough room to pack newfound rocks when she travels – although flat rate boxes have become her new best friend! If she isn’t picking up rocks or caving, you can catch her on roller skates or doing yoga. Contact her at


Fernando Hernandez originally hails from Monterrey, Mexico but moved to Texas to earn his bachelor's in renewable natural resources from Texas A&M University! Before heading to WKU, Fernando worked for the city of Austin, Texas where he worked with both caves and springs to protect the city's watershed and conserve natural wildlands! But Fernando didn't stop there! For many years, he has been taking yearly expeditions to Sistema Huautla in the Sierra Mazateca in Oaxaca, Mexico, which is one of the deepest caves in the world. While on these expeditions, Fernando has been able to learn Mazatec, the language of the area's indigenous population! As a graduate student with CHNGES, Fernando plans to study the geomorphology and hydrology of Sistema Huautla and hopes to connect this system to the Peña Colorada cave through dye trace studies.


Rachel Kaiser is a geoscience graduate student from Kenton County located in Northern Kentucky. Rachel was the first JUMP (Joint Undergraduate Master’s Program) student in the WKU Department of Geography and Geology…yes, that means she was working on both undergraduate and graduate coursework and research at the same time! She is currently researching strategies for stormwater monitoring in karst environments. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors to go hiking and kayaking, but mostly spending the day fishing at the lake. Oh, and she is also mom to the CHNGES unofficial mascot…the one and only hedgehog, Winston Churchquill. Contact her at:


Natalie comes to CHNGES from Louisville, KY. She is a JUMP student in CHNGES meaning she is completing both her undergraduate and graduate degrees simultaneously…yeah, she doesn’t have much free time. Her research interest are glacier and climate change related nature-based tourism and informal science education though she is passionate about all things environmental science and outreach. She likes to spend her free time outdoors exploring new places, hanging out at a record store, and seeing live music! Contact Natalie at


Chelsey Kipper, a second year graduate student member of our CHNGES team, hails from Big Clifty, Kentucky and graduated in 2016 from WKU with a Bachelor's in Geology! For her Master's thesis, she is studying karst hydrogeology at Mammoth Cave National Park. She also enjoys researching environmental concerns and the application of geophysics in karst environments. When she isn't 'karst-ing' it up with WKU CHNGES, Chelsey loves cooking, caving, and traveling! She is also a Buffy the Vampire Slayer enthusiast (and joins other super-fans in this Center!)!


Lea Mitchell comes to CHNGES from northern Kentucky. She is a second year WKU undergraduate student and senior at the WKU Gatton Academy working at the Center's HydroAnalytical Laboratory. She is also conducting undergraduate research related to the water quality of a local karst feature, Jennings Creek. When she isn't studying karst and water resources, she is busy learning Chinese! Reach Lea at


Hali Steinmann is a graduate student from Gainesville, Georgia. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Ecology from The University of the South. Her primary research interests are the karst hydrology and geomorphology of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee and Alabama. She loves to bike, hike, cave, and swim with her trusty mutt, Roubidoux. She is in constant pursuit of the world's best chocolate chip cookie recipe. Contact her at


Keith Semler, who hails from Berea, Kentucky, is a second-year graduate student with CHNGES. His master thesis research involves the development of a Karst Tourism Disturbance Index. Keith loves backcountry camping and playing in the Kentucky foothills. His dream job is anything that allows him to protect the National Park System for this and future generations to enjoy. If you can’t find Keith in the office, check out a nearby cave, as he will probably be there. Or, maybe he will be defending his spot among the world leaders of speedrunning Pokemon Red. What can we say, we are a group with many diverse talents. Contact Keith at


Jadam is a graduate student from Albany, Kentucky. He currently serves as the data team lead for CHNGES. His thesis research focuses on flood modeling in karst environments. If you are looking for honey, Jadam is your guy. This year, he became a proud father to 450,000 bees!  In the future, Jadam hopes to use his degree in a practical setting. Contact him at


James (JT) Troxell grew up in the tiny town of Monticello, KY. He graduated from WKU in December 2017 with a Bachelors in Geography concentrating in Environmental Science and Climate. He is a first-year grad student that is interested in Karst hydrology, GIS, and Sustainable Energy. JT has a love for excitement and the outdoors, when he isn’t cruising on a motorcycle, he loves kayaking, hunting, and traveling. JT hopes to one day backpack across Europe. Email JT at

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