University Opens New Center for Biodiversity

Alexandra Arleo Staff Writer

Sea levels are rising, temperatures are climbing, storms are intensifying and wildfires are rampantly spreading. Animal and plant species are disappearing at an alarming rate and historic glaciers are melting in the coldest corners of the globe. In response to these developments, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is launching the Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship (CBEST), to advance research that is focused on biological principles, components, ramifications, and studies of biodiversity and ecosystem science in a quickly changing world.

CBEST is committed to studying and promoting two important life sciences, biodiversity science and ecosystem science, in efforts to gain new biological, evolutionary and ecological perspectives. Biodiversity scientists study and analyze various organisms in terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems. Ecosystem science examines the flow of energy and matter through organisms and their surrounding environments to understand the function of Earth’s ecosystems. The Center is committed to educating both undergraduate and graduate students with hopes of encouraging and inspiring young researchers who will share their knowledge and findings with the Villanova Community and beyond.

CBEST seeks to capitalize on the research strengths of its faculty, particularly those in the areas of biodiversity and ecosystem science. Six distinguished Villanova professors, who are leaders in their fields, have come together to form the new Center. They are Biology professors Samantha Chapman, Ph.D., Aaron Bauer, Ph.D., Todd Jackman, Ph.D., R. Kelman Wieder, Ph.D., Adam Langley, Ph.D. and associate professor and chair of Geography and the Environment Nathaniel Weston, Ph.D.

CBEST has aligned itself with Villanova’s Augustinian mission and commitment to sustainability that is founded upon the University’s principles of Caritas, Unitas and Veritas. It also aligns with the Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudito Si,” which draws upon the human-cause threats to ecosystems and biodiversity around the globe and the need for research development efforts.

In 2007, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D., ’75 CLAS, Villanova University president, signed the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment. 

“Along with reflecting our strong commitment to sustainability, by bringing together these six outstanding experts in their fields CBEST will further enhance and increase research opportunities in the College for our undergraduate and graduate students,” Adele Lindenmeyr, Ph.D., Dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences said. “We also intend the Center to serve as a great resource for the community at large, including schools and community groups.”

CBEST will host a public launch celebration on Monday, Oct. 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This will include a presentation by Jonathan Losos, Ph.D., professor of Biology and the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, as well the founding director of the Living Earth Collaborative—a biodiversity partnership between Washington University, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Saint Louis Zoo. Dr. Losos is the author of recently published book, “Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution.” Dr. Losos has been praised for using a refreshingly accessible writing style to articulate the complexity of evolution. His talk, “Using Experiments in Nature to Study Evolution in Real Time: Research on Lizard Adaptation in the Bahamas,” will be held in the Villanova Room, Connelly Center, followed by a reception and is free and open to the public.