NMT Grad Student Megan Curry Wins Wilson Schp

by Dr. John Mylroie, Karst Waters Institute

Megan Curry

Right: Megan Curry in her native habitat. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Ingham.

POSTOJNA, SLOVENIA, April 14, 2007 – Megan Curry, a graduate student in the Cave and Karst Studies Program at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, has been awarded the William L. Wilson Memorial Scholarship of the Karst Waters Institute.

Megan Curry was honored for her research on the production of a cave mineral called moonmilk, a white, pasty material that appears to be the result of bacterial action involving the cave wall rock. This research may help scientists understand how organisms can function in the subsurface, an environment that could theoretically serve as an analog to extreme environments such as Mars.

Megan Curry is a B.Sc. graduate of the University of Akron, and a graduate of Perry High School, Massillon, Ohio. The Karst Waters Institute, a United States non-profit organization dedicated to the research and study of caves and karst, made the award at a symposium it organized in Postojna, Slovenia, in cooperation with that nation’s Karst Research Institute.

The scholarship was created by the Karst Waters Institute in 2003 in memory of William L. Wilson, a pioneering cave and karst scientist who passed away suddenly the previous year. The award honors the leading master’s degree graduate student in the United States who is working on a significant geology research question involving caves and karst, and stimulates students to conduct cave and karst research.

Over 20 percent of the United States classifies as karst, areas where the landscape is dominated by the results of bedrock solution, and the surface water sinks into the subsurface to form caves and underground streams. In the United States, most karst is developed on soluble rocks such as limestones and dolomites, although areas underlain by soluble gypsum also occur.