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Biological Sciences Faculty — Dr. Kathleen Lavoie

Photo of Kathy Lavoie Professor
Dean College of Arts & Sciences

I am a microbiologist, with expertise in microbial ecology, environmental biology, medical microbiology, and organismal (invertebrate) biology. My recent areas of study include biospeleology (the study of life in caves). Most of my field work is done at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and in Cueva de Villa Luz in Tabasco, Mexico.


  • Ph.D. in Biological Sciences (Microbial Ecology), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1982
  • M.A. in Microbiology, Indiana University, 1976
  • B.A. in Microbiology, cum laude, University of New Hampshire, 1972

Research Areas

  • Biology of animals in caves
  • Sulfur-based ecosystems
  • Extremophiles

Recent Publications

  • Preserving the unseen as you clean. Boston PJ, Northup D., Lavoie KH. 2004. In: Hildreth-Werker, V. and J.C. Werker., editors. Cave Conservation and Restoration. Huntsville (AL): National Speleological Society. Pp. 67-88.
  • Microbiology. Northup, D.E. and K.H. Lavoie. 2003. Entry In: Encyclopedia of Cave and Karst Science. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, London. Pp 511-514.
  • "Descubriendo la Riqueza de las Cuevas: La Cueva de Villa Luz, en Tabasco." (in Spanish). Northup, D.E., Boston, P.J., Spilde, M.N., Schalble, Lavoie, K.H., and Alvarado, A. 2003.
  • Attenuation and seasonal femur length:massrelationships in cavernicolous crickets (Insecta: Orthoptera). Studier, E.H., Lavoie, K.H., and Howarth, F.G. 2002. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 64 (2): 127-132.
  • Cave biosignature suites: Microbes, minerals and Mars. Boston PJ, Spilde MN, Northup DE, Melim LA, Soroka D, Kleina L, Lavoie K, Hose L, Mallory L. 2001. Astrobiology Journal (Premiere edition). Volume 1: 57-70.
  • Geomicrobiology of Caves: A review. (Invited paper) Northup, D.E. and K.H. Lavoie. 2001. Geomicrobiology Journal. 18(3): 199-222
  • Photo credits to accompany article by L. Hose: "La Ceremonia de la Pesca" in Cueva de Villa Luz, Mexico. Lavoie, K.H. 2001. National Speleological Society News 59(2):
  • The trophic basis of subsurface ecosystems. Poulson TL and Lavoie KH. 2000. Chapter 12. In: Ecosystems of the World 30: Subterranean Ecosystems. Eds. H. Wilkens, D. C. Culver and W.F. Humphreys. Elsevier. pp 231-249.
  • Evidence for Geomicrobiological Interactions in Guadalupe Caves. Northup, D.E., C.N. Dahm, L.A. Melim, L.J. Crossey, K.H. Lavoie, L. Mallory, P.J. Boston, K. I. Cunnimgham and S. M. Barns. 2000. Special Issue: Guadalupe Caves Symposium in Journal of Cave and Karst Studies. 62: 149-160. (This issue was also developed as a special publication of the National Park Service for sale in parks in the southwest.)
  • "Sight unseen: microbes in caves." Lavoie, K., Northup, D., and Boston, P. 2000. National Speleological Society News 58(3): 68-69.

Recent Research Presentations and Published Abstracts

  • National Speleological Society Annual Meeting, Biology Section, July 2005
    • "Preliminary evaluation of the invertebrate fauna of an artificial bat cave in Texas." K. H. Lavoie and D.E. Northup.
    • "Guano invertebrate communities in a highly acidic cave." K. Lavoie, (Presenter) EH Studier (Presenter), and O. Cauthorn (Student)
  • In: Special Session on Stewardship of Lands and Hidden Resources. (T. Strong and P. Seiser). George Wright Conference, Philadelphia, PA. March 2005
    • "Evaluation of cave and karst programs." K. H. Lavoie.
  • Invited presentation, National Park Service Symposium: Developing the national model for the cave protocol. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY, 2003
    • "Microbial Diversity in Caves." K. H. Lavoie.
  • Invited presentation, Hamilton Valley Symposium, Mammoth Cave National Park, KY. November 2002
    • "Microbial Diversity in Caves; Balancing Cave Exploration and Scientific Discovery." Lavoie and D.E. Northup.
  • Geological Society of America, October 27-30, 2002, Denver, CO, 2002
    • "Microbial Sulfur Transformations in a Sulfide-Rich Cave in Tabasco, Mexico." D.E. Northup, P.J. Boston, M.N. Spilde, A. Alvarado Zink, R.T. Schelble, K.H. Lavoie.
  • International Subsurface Microbiology Conference (ISSM 02). Copenhagen, 2002
    • "Growth Rates of "Snottites" from Cueva de Villa Luz, Tabasco, Mexico" Lavoie, Soroka, Boston and Northup (Presenter).
  • National Speleological Society Annual Convention, Biology Section Meeting, Camden, ME, 2002
    • "Growth Rates of "Snottites" from Cueva de Villa Luz, Tabasco, Mexico" Lavoie (Presenter), Soroka, Boston and Northup.
    • "Distribution and abundance of the midge, Goeldichironomus fulvipilus, in Cueva de Villa Luz, Tabasco, Mexico" Lavoie (Presenter) and Evans (Student)
    • "Troglomorphy in the cavefish, Poecillia mexicana from Cueva de Villa Luz, Tabasco, Mexico" Dieterich (Presenter) (Student)and Lavoie
  • Earth System Processes - Global Meeting, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2001
    • "Pendulous microbial/mineral formations in an active sulfide-dominated cave and possible lithified speleothem analogs in an ancient, inactive cave." Boston (Presenter), Spilde, Northup (Presenter) (Student), Soroka, Kleina, Lavoie, Melim, Hose.
  • Presentation at the National Speleological Society Annual Convention, Elkins, WV, 2000
    • "A Garden Inside Out: Microbial mats in springs, wall muds, and ceiling formations of a sulfur-dominated cave, Cueva de Villa Luz, Tabasco, Mexico." P. Boston (Presenter), D. Soroka, L. Kleina, K. Lavoie, M. Spilde, D. Northup (Student), & L. Hose.
  • National Speleological Society Annual Convention, Elkins, WV, 2000
    • Panel: Conservation of cave mud, slime, and pools: Microbiology Panel. P. Boston, L. Kleina, K. Lavoie, D. Northup (Student), M. Spilde.

Faculty Website

Contact Kathleen Lavoie

Office: Hudson Hall 311
Phone: (518) 564-5280