Education and Outreach

Two students work in the Research Garden on Villanova's campus.

The Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship is committed to educating not only our students but also our community—cultivating opportunities for students and faculty to learn and engage with the community

The Center fosters the education and development of undergraduate and graduate students as scientists, training them to effectively disseminate their findings. CBEST provides a public platform for the local Villanova community and beyond to engage in educational opportunities and understand the influence of human activities on the Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystems locally, regionally and globally. Through research and community interactions, CBEST explores solutions that can enhance human stewardship of the richness of life on Earth.

biodiversity newsletter graphic

We are excited to highlight local Biodiversity. You could find us every Wednesday in the Summer and Fall of 2023 hosting our seminar series: Biodiversity in Our Neighborhood: The Oakwell Series. Biodiversity is not just for forests and oceans and wild places. We all need to pay attention to what is right in our backyard. Talks focused on everything from Carbon seqestration to bats and more. All talks have been added to our video channel.

Emma Witanowski (GEV, 2024) also recently presented her senior project, under the guidance of Jen Santori, exploring alternative options for Oakwell development. Emma's presentation beautifully explores the history, importance, and potential futures of this beautiful property. We support the preservation of this important green space which is just next door to Villanova and we continue to document, with student involvement, the benefits of having linked natural spaces.

7 species of native plants for garden
Plants made available to VU community at Greenhouse Open House

Other recent activities to highlight native biodiversity have included BioBlitz events on campus and at Oakwell, a property in limbo and adjacent to Villanova. Students and community are invited to participate in future Blitzes that we'll be spearheading. 

Our pollinator garden on campus is thriving and we are adding to the native plant footprint on campus with a new bed adjacent to the greenhouse near Mendel Hall and the SEPTA train station. We are also promoting native plants in home gardens by growing PA natives to go along with some veggie and herb offerings. Our Spring offerings in 2023 were hugely popular and we look forward to offering more natives come spring of 2024. More Info.

CBEST Exhibit 2022 Flower Show
CBEST Flower Show exhibit 2022

Old news at this point, however, we are still resting on our laurels from the 2022 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show even as we helped judge the 2023 show. Also, explore the story map of the exhibit created by our own Damir Creecy '22. It is a detailed look at some of the wild places of PA and the beauty and biodiversity found in different ecosystems a short distance from your door.

Student Workshops and Science Slams

Every semester, CBEST hosts workshops based on student feedback and ideas. These workshops cover subjects ranging from bioinformatics to effective scientific communication. We also host Science Slams, a productive a way for graduate students from several departments and colleges within the University to get together and present research and work through problems.

Community Partnerships

We are committed to working with and learning from research entities, land managers and stewards, teachers, and other members of the communities both near Villanova and local to our far-flung research sites. Some of our partnerships include:

  • Land managers in Florida
  • Local Pennsylvania elementary schools
  • Environmental education centers in Florida, Maryland, and Massachusetts

In the Now

What we are up to:   

  • Our Native Plant/organic Veggies/Herbs offering (donations requested to cover costs of supplies) was a huge success. We have heard you speak.  More Natives!!
  • Awesome Senior Project of Emma Witanowski shines a spotlight on Oakwell and the importance of preserving it.
  • Activism! Drs. Sam Chapman and Adam Langley have helped pen two amicus briefs, with the help of Dr. Kelman Wieder, as 'friends of the court'. Their involvement is in support of PA joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. In the briefs, they help explain why it is so important for PA to move forward with this initiative in reducing gas emissions (Amicus Brief 41, Amicus Brief 247).
  • Activism! Natural resources are in constant peril. See our letter in support of saving natural lands near Villanova campus.
  • We've had a host of graduate students defending this year! Congratulations to you all!
  • Seminars and invited speakers are in the works for the spring!  Will keep you posted here and through emails (feel free to sign up for announcements via email).
  • BioBlitz!!!!   Collaborating with Stoneleigh and the Horticulture Crew here at VU we have been Blitzing both Oakwell and our Meadow Area on Campus to bring focus to the importance of biodiversity right here. More Blitzes to come.
  • More fieldwork!


Watch lectures and events sponsored by CBEST or CBEST faculty!