• New Bio News and Events
  • Student Highlight
  • Get to know Bio Faculty and Staff
  • See what our alumni are up to

Bobby Scharping, Ph.D.


I’m interested in learning how life interacts with non-living matter and energy.

One reason is that these interactions blur the distinction between life and non-life, and understanding this blurriness helps inform the ultimate question of biology: what is life?

Another reason is that these interactions—out of all the biological phenomena—most clearly demonstrate the role that living things play in the universe’s march toward entropy. Understanding this aspect of nature informs another fundamental question: why is life?

Caves offer systems for studying interactions between life and non-life with boundaries that are relatively easy to define. I love studying underwater caves because they present the properly trained and equipped scientist with a completely immersive research experience. Ecological research conducted in these systems is inextricably linked to exploration and adventure.


  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and U.S. Geological Survey
  • Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology, University of South Florida
  • B.S., Conservation Biology, Kansas State University


  • Scharping, R. J. and J. R. Garey. 2021. Relationship between aquifer biofilms and unattached microbial indicators of urban groundwater contamination. Molecular Ecology 30:324-342. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15713.
  • Smith, M. E., J. G. Wynn, R. J. Scharping, E. W. Moore, J. R. Garey and B. P. Onac. 2021. Source of saline groundwater on tidally influenced blue holes on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Hydrogeology Journal 29:429-441. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-020-02266-z.
  • Scharping, R. J., L. V. Plough, D. W. Meritt and E. W. North. 2019. Low-salinity tolerance of early-stage oyster larvae from a mesohaline estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 613:97-106. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12905.
  • McLauchlan, K. K., I. Lascu, E. Mellicant, R. J. Scharping and J. J. Williams. 2019. Influences of forested and grassland vegetation on late Quaternary ecosystem development as recorded in lacustrine sediments. Quaternary Research 92:201-214. https://doi.org/10.1017/qua.2018.148.
  • Scharping, R. J., K. M. Garman, R. P. Henry, P. J. Eswara and J. R. Garey. 2018. The fate of urban springs: pumping-induced seawater intrusion in a phreatic cave. Journal of Hydrology 564:230-245. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.07.016.
  • Menning, D. M., W. A. Carraher-Stross, E. D. Graham, D. N. Thomas, A. R. Phillips, R. J. Scharping and J. R. Garey. 2018. Aquifer discharge drives microbial community change in karst estuaries. Estuaries and Coasts 41:430-443. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-017-0281-7.


Office Information

Polk Science 144