Philip Van Beynen

Professor, Associate Chair and Graduate Director of Geography, Environmental Science & Policy


Office: NES 313
Phone: 813.974.3026


Born in New Zealand, my interest in the physical environment grew from the spectacular scenery of that country. I spent time there researching climate change using stalagmites, This was followed by a move to Ontario, Canada, to continue this type of research. I taught at Central Connecticut State University from 2000-2003 before taking my current position at USF.


  • 1994 – 1998 Ph.D. in Geography, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 1992 – 1994 Master of Arts (Geography) First Class Honours, Auckland University, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 1989 – 1991 Bachelor of Arts (Geography), Auckland University

Professional Experience

  • 2009-current Associate Professor: School of Geosciences, Geography/Environmental Science and Policy Program, University of South Florida
  • 2008-2010 Graduate Director: School of Geosciences, Geography/Environmental Science and Policy Program, University of South Florida
  • 2003-2009 Assistant Professor: School of Geosciences, Geography/Environmental Science and Policy, University of South Florida
  • 2000-2003 Assistant Professor: Department of Geography, Central Connecticut State University
  • 1998-2000 Post–Doctoral Fellow, School of Geography and Geology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


My research focuses on different components of karst environments. One is studying human-environment interactions concentrating on both disturbance and sustainability. This involves environmental indices that quantify human disturbance, and most recently contaminant flows and fate in karst settings. Approaches to sustainability of human use of karst environments but also small island development states is an evolving research program of mine. Another is reconstructing paleoclimates using speleothems or sediments found in caves and sinkholes. I have published work done in North and Central America, and New Zealand.

Graduate Students

Elzbieta Bialkowska-Jelinska

Specialty Area

Karst environments pertaining to human disturbance, environmental indices, sustainability and paleoclimate change.

Recent Publications


  • van Beynen, P.E. (editor) (2011) Karst Management. Springer Publishing, Dordrecht


  • Onac, B., and van Beynen, P.E. (2020) Caves and Karst. In Harmon, R. et al. (eds) Encyclopedia of Geology. Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Niedzielski M., Bialkowska-Jelinska E., Alsharif K. (2018) Investigating Groundwater Vulnerability of a Karst Aquifer in Tampa Bay, Florida. In: White W., Herman J., Herman E., Rutigliano M. (eds) Karst Groundwater Contamination and Public Health. Advances in Karst Science. Springer, Cham
  • Smyth, M.P., Dunning, N.P., Weaver, E.M., van Beynen, P., and Ortegón Zapata, D. (2017) An Enigmatic Maya Center: Climate Change, Settlement Systems, and Water Adaptations at Xcoch, Puuc Region. In: Meghan Rubenstein (ed.) Yucatán Recent Investigations in the Puuc Region of Yucatán. Archaeopress Pre-Columbian Archaeology 8. Archaeopress Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK.

Peer Refereed - Journal Articles

  • Pathak, A., van Beynen, P.E., Akiwumi, F.A. and Lindeman, K.C. (2020) Impacts of climate change on the tourism sector of a Small Island Developing State: A case study for the Bahamas. Environmental Development, p.100556.
  • Gallagher, K.C., Alsharif, K., Tsegaye, S, and van Beynen, P. (2018) A New Approach for Using GIS to Link Infiltration BMPs to Groundwater Pollution Risk. Urban Water Journal, 15(9), p. 847-857.
  • van Beynen, P. E. (2018). Editor’s Message: Impact of politics on USA water quality monitoring, protection and management. Hydrogeology Journal, 1-3.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Akiwumi, F. and van Beynen, K.M. (2018) A Sustainability Index for Small Island Developing States. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 25(2): 99-116.
  • Kovarik, J.L., van Beynen, P.E. and Niedzielski, M.A. (2017) Groundwater vulnerability mapping for a sub-catchment of the Rio La Venta watershed, Chiapas, Mexico. Environmental Earth Sciences, 76(23), p.797.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Polk, J.S., Polyak, V. and Asmerom, Y. (2017) Late Pleistocene and Mid-Holocene Climate Change derived from a Florida Speleothem. Quaternary International,
  • Kovarik, J.L. and van Beynen, P.E. (2017) Karst-specific composite model for informed resource management decisions on the Biosfera de la Reserva Selva el Ocote Chiapas Mexico. In Parise, M. (ed.) Advances in Karst Research: Theory, Fieldwork and Applications. GSL special publications. DOI: 10.1144/SP466.1
  • Reyes, M., van Beynen, P.E., and Hafen, M. (2017) An experimental study of the utility of adventitious roots for determining the hydroperiod in isolated wetlands. Tropical Ecology 58(2): 369–377
  • Smyth, M.P., Dunning, N.P., Weaver, E., van Beynen, P.E., and Gradena, J. (2017) The Perfect Storm: Climate Change and Ancient Maya Response in the Puuc Hills Region of Yucatan. Antiquity 91 (356), 490-509
  • Pollock, A., van Beynen, P.E., Delong, K., Polyak, V. and Asmerom, Y. (2016) A Speleothem-Based Mid-Holocene Precipitation Reconstruction For West-Central Florida. The Holocene. doi:10.1177/0959683616678463
  • Pollock, A., van Beynen, P.E., Delong, K., Polyak, V., Asmerom, Y. and Reeder, R. (2016) A Mid-Holocene Paleoprecipitation Record From Belize. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 463, 103–111.
  • North, L., and van Beynen, P.E. (2016) All in the Training: Techniques for Enhancing Karst Landscape Education through Show Cave Interpretation. Applied Environmental Education & Communication, 15(4), 279-290.
  • Kovarik, J. L., and van Beynen, P. E. (2015) Application of the Karst Disturbance Index as a raster-based model in a developing country. Applied Geography, 63, 396-407.
  • Polk. J.S., van Beynen, P.E., Polyak, V., and Asmerom, Y. (2013), Reconstructing Past Climates using Carbon Isotopes from Fulvic Acids in Cave Sediments. Chemical Geology Vol. 360-361, 1-9.
  • van Beynen, P.E. and Bialkowska-Jelinska, E. (2012), Human disturbance of the Waitomo Catchment, New Zealand. Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 108, 130-40.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Brinkmann, R. and van Beynen, K.M. (2012) Creation of a sustainability index for karst environments. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies vol. 74. No. 2, 221-234.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Niedzielski, M.A., Bialkowska-Jelinska, E., Alsharif, K., Matusick, J. (2011) Comparative Study of Specific Groundwater Vulnerability of a Karst Aquifer in Central Florida. Applied Geography, Vol. 32, No. 2. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog2011.09.005
  • van Beynen, P.E and van Beynen, K.M. (2011) Human disturbance of karst environments. In van Beynen, P.E. (ed) Karst Management. Springer Publishing, Utrecht: pp. 379-398.
  • Harley, G., Polk, J., Reeder, P., and van Beynen, P. (2010) Using a GIS-based inventory for cave management implementation at Withlacoochee State Forest, Florida. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies. v. 72, no. 1, p. 35–42.
  • North, L. and van Beynen, P.E. Parise, M. (2009). Interregional comparison of karst disturbance: West-Central Florida and Southeast Italy. Journal of Environmental Management, 90 (5), 1770-1781.
  • Ortega, L.A., Heupel, M.R., van Beynen, P.E. and Motta, P. (2009). Home range, movement patterns, and water quality preferences of juvenile bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) in a Florida nursery. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 84 (4), 361-373.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Soto, L., and Polk, J. (2008) Variable calcite deposition rates as proxy for paleo-precipitation determination as derived from speleothems in Central Florida. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 70 (1).
  • van Beynen. P.E., Soto, L., and Pace-Graczyk, K., (2007). Paleoclimate reconstruction derived from speleothem strontium and ?13C in Central Florida. Quaternary International doi:10.101016/j.quaint.2007.03.019. Available online.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Asmerom, Y., Polyak, V., Soto, L., and Polk, J.S. (2007) Variable intensity of teleconnections during the Late Holocene in Subtropical North America from an isotopic study of speleothem from Florida. Geophysical Research Letters 34, L18703, doi:10.1029/2007GL031046.
  • Polk, J.S., van Beynen, P.E., and Reeder, P.P., (2007). Late Holocene environmental reconstruction using cave sediments from Belize. Quaternary Research 68, 53-63.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Feliciano, N., North, L. and Townsend, K. (2006) Application of a Karst Disturbance Index in Hillsborough County, Florida. Environmental Management 39, 261-277. Published online November 2006, in print Feb 2007.
  • van Beynen, P.E. and Febberollio, P.J. (2006) Stable isotope record of precipitation and cave water for Indian Oven Cave, NY. Hydrological Processes 20, 1793-1803.
  • van Beynen, P.E. and Townsend, K.M. (2005) A Disturbance Index for Karst Environments. Environmental Management 36 (1) 101-116.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Schwarcz, H.P. and Ford, D.C. (2004) Holocene climatic variability recorded in a speleothem from McFail’s Cave, New York. The Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 66 (1), 20-27.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Ford, D.C., Schwarcz, H.P., and Timmins, G.T. (2002) Annual laminae in speleothems: their production and significance. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 39, 279-284.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Bourbonniere, R.A, Ford, D.C., and Schwarcz, H.P. (2001),Causes of colour and fluorescence in speleothems. Chemical Geology 175, 319-341.
  • van Beynen, P.E., Ford, D.C., and Schwarcz, H.P. (2000) Seasonal Variability in Organic Substances in Surface and Cave Waters. Hydrological Processes 14, 1177-1197.