Dr. Jut Wynne is a cave scientist and conservation ecologist. He has bushwhacked through the jungles of Belize and China, rappelled into the deepest volcanic pit on the Big Island of Hawai’i, endured the world’s driest desert in northern Chile, used cutting edge instruments onboard NASA aircraft, and traveled to the most remote inhabited place on earth, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) – to learn more about caves and the mysteries they contain. With training in wildlife ecology, entomology, statistical modeling, and remote sensing, Jut is a passionate field scientist dedicated to the study of the natural world and conservation science.
In the last 15 years, he has led over 70 cave science expeditions in Belize, Chile, China, Spain, Rapa Nui, Hawai’i, and across the American Southwest. Jut has also participated in other field projects in Belgium, Belize, Mexico, Scotland, and throughout the United States. He has served as supporting personnel on nearly 100 expeditions around the world and carried the flag for the prestigious Explorers Club on 17 science expeditions.
Research highlights by Jut and colleagues include the discovery of three new genera and ~30 new species of cave-dwelling arthropods from the southwestern U.S., 10 new cave-restricted invertebrate species from Rapa Nui, at least 15 new subterranean-adapted insect species from China, ~20 new cave arthropod species from Belize, and the earliest evidence for cave-like features on Mars. He even has a cave-dwelling Tenebrionid beetle with his namesake, Eleodes wynnei. In 2016, Jut was a Fulbright Scholar, where he led an over three month expedition to identify relict habitats and inventory native arthropods on Easter Island; working with Rapa Nui National Park park guards, undergraduate students, and citizen scientists, he sampled the most difficult to access areas on the island including caves, cliffs, rocky coastlines, and crater lakes.
Jut is an assistant research professor with the Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University (NAU), an associate curator of the Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity, NAU, and leads NAU’s Cave Ecology and Exploration lab. He is an engaging lecturer who enjoys discussing the excitement of expeditionary science. Over the past 15 years, he has delivered 20 presentations at scientific symposia, 34 university and agency seminars, five invited keynotes or similar engagements, and 50 public lectures at various venues (including 14 talks in Spanish) throughout the U.S., Belize, Chile, China, Japan, Polynesia, Spain, England, and Greece. He has authored/co-authored 32 peer-reviewed articles and over 50 other publications, is the editor of the upcoming book, Cave Ecology: Drivers of Diversity and Diversification, and has served as a guest writer for Scientific American.
With nearly two decades of experience technical caving, Jut is an expert in rope work, anchor building, and the use of related climbing equipment. He also has eight years of experience as medical and safety personnel where he has served as safety/ medical officer on two NASA projects and several National Park Service projects. He holds Ropes That Rescue Personal Rescue Skills and Clean Rigging and current WMI/NOLS Wilderness First Responder certifications.