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Research, Education, Stewardship. A Multifaceted approach.
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NCKRI Board of Directors

Dr. Robert Brinkmann, Chairman

Member since May 2010, Chairman since 2012

Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Geology, Ph.D. in Geography

Dr. Robert Brinkmann is the Vice Provost for Scholarship and Engagement and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Hofstra University. He is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies and the Editor of Suburban Sustainability. He has served as an elected officer with a number of national, regional, and local organizations. Brinkmann has appeared on a number of national news outlets as an expert on geologic and environmental issues including CBS News and CNN. His blog, On the Brink, which focuses on environmental and sustainability issues gets thousands of hits a day. He also has a column on Huffington Post. He has extensive research experience on storm water related issues. He is the co-author of a book called Urban Sediment Removal: The Science, Policy, and Management of Street Sweeping, the only major book ever published on street sweeping and storm water. His book, Sinkholes of Florida: Science and Policy, was published by the University of Florida Press in 2013. His new book, Introduction to Sustainability was published by John Wiley and Sons this year. He has two more books in progress that focus on sustainability issues in urban and suburban regions of the world.

Dr. Ronald T. Green, Vice Chairman

Member since 2007

Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering and Geology; Master’s in Geophysics; PhD in Hydrology.

Ron is a Hydrogeologist with the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas and is active in the characterization, modeling, and groundwater management of karst aquifers. Recent projects include development of neutrally buoyant sensors to map karst conduits, dual conductivity modeling of groundwater flow in karst aquifers, and recharge assessment of karst aquifers in arid and semi-arid environments.


Richard Cervantes, Secretary/Treasurer

Member since 2005; permanent position representing New Mexico Tech

Master’s Degree in Accounting and Information Systems, and is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant

Cervantes is currently the Associate Vice President of Research and Economic Development with New Mexico Tech. He was part of the initial New Mexico Tech team that drafted the MOU between the three permanent members of NCKRI. He later assisted in the development of the Cooperative Agreement between New Mexico Tech and the U.S. National Park Service and he participates in the annual process to facilitate state appropriations from the New Mexico Legislature.

Dave Steensen, National Park Service Representative

Member since January 2009; permanent position representing the National Park Service

Bachelor’s Degree in Geology and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Systems/Applied Geology

Dave is the Chief of the Geologic Resources Division of the National Park Service. One of his responsibilities as Chief is oversight and support of the Service-wide cave and karst resource management program.

Jason Shirley, City of Carlsbad Representative

Member since October 2015

Jason Grant Shirley has been a resident of Carlsbad, New Mexico for 21 years. He is an Associate Pastor at Word Of Life Church in Carlsbad. He and his wife Tiffany own several small businesses which employee over 20 people. Jason and Tiffany are the founders of Project Safe Escape, a non-profit focussed on teen pregnancy and drug use prevention. They have two children, Brooklyn (10) and Connor (4). Jason has been a member of the City Council in Carlsbad since 2012 and serves his community on many boards and committees including the Mayor’s Nuclear Task Force, The Eddy Lea Energy Alliance Executive Board, and Carlsbad Mainstream.

Vacent, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Jack Swickard, Member at Large

Joined board in 2013

Jack is a writer who specializes in Southeast Asia, drawing on his experiences as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. He formerly managed, edited and reported for the Roswell Daily Record, the Farmington Daily Times, The Albuquerque Tribune, all in New Mexico, and The Indianapolis Times in Indiana. After leaving the newspaper business in 2001, Jack founded The Triton Group, a public relations and political campaign consulting company headquartered in Roswell, New Mexico. He worked with New Mexico Tech on the International Law Enforcement Academy. Jack lives in Roswell.

Dr. E. Calvin Alexander, Jr.

Member since October 2011

Bachelor’s Degree and PhD in Chemistry. Calvin is an Emeritus Professor in the Earth Sciences Department at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He served on the Board of the Deep Portage Learning Center. He is a Fellow of the National Speleological Society. Calvin works on many aspects of karst hydrogeology and the impacts of human activities, particularly agriculture, on karst systems and vice versa, the limits that karst systems place on sustainable agriculture and other human activities.


Dale Pate

Member from 2000-2002; 2006 to present, Vice-Chairman 2006-2011

Bachelor’s degree in Geography

Dale is the National Cave and Karst Program Coordinator for the National Park Service. He served in an Acting capacity for this job since May 2007 and filled the full-time position in July 2012. Involved in cave and karst management since 1970, Dale served as the Cave Specialist (Supervisory Physical Scientist) for Carlsbad Caverns National Park from July 1991 to June 2012.



Dave Lester

Member since May 2012; Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Dave has spent over three decades founding, building, and operating successful entrepreneurial companies and guiding non-profit organizations. As a principal and chief officer, he has managed two public offerings and served as president, executive VP, board member, secretary, treasurer and chief financial officer of NASDAQ traded public companies. He was an advisor during the founding and early years of NCKRI. Dave is a Fellow of the National Speleological Society (NSS) and has served on its Board of Governors. He co-chaired the 1996 convention and chaired the NSS’s 2011 convention. He has been actively involved in cave and karst research and exploration in the US and internationally, including National Geographic and NSS sponsored projects. He holds issued and pending United States and international patents and holds a commercial pilot license.

David Weary

Member since June 2009

BS degree in Geology from George Mason University and a Masters in Geology from Virginia Tech

David has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Reston, VA since 1988 and now serves on the Board as the USGS representative. He is a research geologist and Project Chief of the USGS KARST Project. The Project is involved in various activities including karst studies and geologic mapping in the Ozarks of Missouri, as well as geologic mapping, and hydrogeologic studies in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia. In addition, the Project is also working on a new national karst map in cooperation with the National Speleological Society and the National Cave and Karst Research Institute.

John Scheltens

Member since May 2014.

Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. John has 35 years of experience in professional civil engineering, principally in public works and national drinking water policy. John served as a member of the Environmental Protections Agen-cy’s (EPA) National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) from 1996-2002 and on many state and national water policy organizations, boards, and commissions to include Vice President of the Water Utility Council for the American Water Works Association in Washington, DC. John is an Honorary Life mem-ber of the National Speleological So-ciety (NSS), where he served as na-tional president from 1988-1992. As President, John led efforts to develop and pass the Federal Cave Resources Act of 1988 as well as developing MOUs between the NSS, the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management. John is currently a Sr. Principal Engineer for Applied Engineering Management Corporation, where he is engaged in international projects for drinking water training at US embassies.

Eddie David

Eddie is President of David Petroleum Corp. which is a small independent oil and gas exploration company that is active in the Permian Basin of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico. Previously he worked as an exploration geologist for Texaco in Midland, Texas. He holds a BS degree in Petroleum Geology from Texas Tech University. Eddie has been active in several professional and community charitable organizations. He is a past President of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and he served on the boards of the Roswell Independent School District, United Way and the Conquistador Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He has also served and held several position in other community organizations Eddie lives in Roswell, New Mexico.


Tom Edwards

Tom Edwards pursues organizational innovation from the three perspectives of research, practical application, and teaching. His many years of practical experience include driving innovation from the top management team of a NYSE-listed company and as an independent consultant. This practical experience is augmented by doctoral research into what makes organizations innovative. Tom has served as profit and loss leader for a strategic business unit of a NYSE listed manufacturing firm and then accepted the challenge of building a culture of innovation at the company. This effort resulted in several significant new products that made significant contributions to the performance of the businesses. Tom’s current challenge is building a graduate program in leadership for the college of engineering at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Tom’s doctoral research is focused on improving the effectiveness of corporate venture capital investment as a method of innovation. Tom serves on the board of directors at Hedwig House and contributes to the mission of the Philadelphia Independence Network for autistic adults by serving on the vocational subcommittee. Edwards teaches graduate courses in management, strategy, and product development at Drexel University and DeSales University.


Lisa Montelione

Member since 2016


Dr. Hazel A. Barton

Member since June 2016

Dr. Hazel A. Barton is a Professor of Biology and Geosciences at the University of Akron. Her current research is geared toward understanding microbial interactions and adaptations to starvation in cave environments, which has been funded by both the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US National Park Service. Dr. Barton also investigates the role the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans plays in the White-nose Syndrome epidemic in bats, which is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This research 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, the CBS Early Show, BBC TV and in the IMAX movie Journey into Amazing Caves. Dr. Barton is also an avid caver, having explored caves on five continents, is a past director of the National Speleological Society (NSS), the Quintana Roo Speleological Survey, and an award winning cave cartographer. Dr. Barton is currently a Fellow of the National Speleological Society, a Kavli Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, Chair of the Committee on the Status of Women in Microbiology for the American Society for Microbiology, and the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award.

NCKRI Staff Members