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Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship (CBEST)

Global temperatures are rising, storms intensifying, rainfall patterns changing, seas swelling and nutrient pollution increasing—and the planet is losing animal and plant species before they are even named. Now, research in the natural sciences has never been more important and impactful.

This is the CBEST logo

CBEST Statement on Anti-Racism and Promoting Equality and Justice

CBEST strongly supports the movement and the principles of Black Lives Matter.  We have been horrified by the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the so many other black lives that have been extinguished in recent years.  This pattern of violence against black people more clearly than ever points to an ongoing environment of racism and discrimination across our country.  We know that to do nothing will perpetuate the status quo.  Now is the time for us to join the millions of Americans, a great diversity of Americans, who have powerfully and passionately made their voices heard through peaceful protests and through other means.  Comprehensive change is needed, not only in policing and criminal justice, but also to rectify systemic racism and discrimination in educational, economic, health care, and other areas that have perpetuated inequality...

We commit ourselves to diversifying science, providing mentorship for black and other POC scientists, and vocally expressing outrage when we see racist acts......As academics who are responsible for the education and training of our students, we pledge to listen, learn, and act in the hope that we will make a difference in the movement to fight and remedy systemic racism and discrimination in our sciences......

We encourage you to visit:



You will find statements/letters from professional societies/groups related to CBEST research themes and to link to a pdf of our full statement.


The Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship (CBEST) seeks to promote research in biodiversity and ecosystem science with a focus on understanding ongoing changes in ecosystems, their component organisms, and the benefits they provide to society.

Summer Science Slam II


Please Note:  All upcoming in-person events have been put on hold for now and we'll get back to those when we are able.  We will be hosting on-line events, as we have done over the summer.  Our Science-Slams were designed to connect our graduate students and PI's, trouble-shoot research projects, and stay up to date on activites.  We also focused on input from Graduate Students on how to make the transition to online easier and how to make Graduate Student involvement in the Center and Departments integral to the success for all. 

As students return now to campus, we will be hosting workshops and information sessions.  Stay tuned and follow us on Twitter @CBEST_Nova.

Comming Up December 2020:

Science Communications Workshop: AAAS Science Communication and Public Engagement Fundamentals  CBEST is proud to host this online interactive workshop on December 7th, 2020 from 9am to 12 Noon.  This workshop presented by educators at AAAS, is geared to graduate students in the sciences and engineering, and is limited to 30 participants.  Registration is now open: please contact us for registration information. 

Previously Scheduled Events:

CBEST and Engineering are teaming up for a Graduate Student Lightning Talk Symposium.   Place/Time TBD.

Sue Natali, Associate Scientist, Arctic Program Director at Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, MA will give a CBEST-sponsored Public Lecture.  Title, Time, and Place TBD.

CBEST co-sponsored Earth Day Activities
April, 22, 2020.


Sam Chapman and students conduct fieldwork.

Ecosystem Science

Ecosystem science examines the flow of energy and matter on Earth, or how ecosystems function. At sites that range from Canadian peatlands to tropical mangroves, CBEST faculty study how wetland ecosystems scrub carbon from our atmosphere and protect our shores from big storms. They deploy unique field-based experiments to simulate human-induced changes in temperatures, sea levels, and pollutants. These innovative and unique arrays allow them to predict how the earth’s wetlands can respond to an otherwise uncertain future.

Todd Jackman, PhD, and one of his student evaluate samples in the lab.

Biodiversity Science

Biodiversity science examines the evolutionary patterns of organisms that inhabit the earth. CBEST Faculty are discovering new species across the globe with a special focus on reptiles and their unique adaptations to life in diverse environments. They use innovative genetic and imaging techniques to explore how species have evolved in response to past climatic changes and how they might continue to do so on a changing planet. Their discoveries provide novel information on the distribution of animals in the evolutionary tree and throughout Earth’s history.

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Research Map

We have a diverse community of ecosystem scientists working all over the world.  View the sites or general areas where our CBEST research is happening on Google Maps.


Center Leadership

Aaron Bauer

Aaron Bauer, PhD
Professor, Biology
Gerald M. Lemole Endowed Chair in Integrative Biology

Google Scholar

Samantha Chapman

Samantha Chapman, PhD

Professor, Biology

Research website | @skchapman4

Todd Jackman

Todd Jackman, PhD
Professor, Biology

Research website

Adam Langley

Adam Langley, PhD
Associate Professor, Biology

Research website@JAdamLangley

Nathaniel Weston

Nathaniel Weston, PhD
Associate Professor and Chair, Geography and the Environment

Research website

Kelman Wieder

R. Kelman Wieder, PhD
Professor, Biology

Research website

Contact: | @CBEST_Nova on Twitter 

Education and Outreach

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 beyondto 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.

Summer Slams were productive this summer - a way for graduate students from several departments and colleges within the University to get together and present research and work through problems- and just before our Spring Semester went virtual, we also had a visit from Dr. Julie Allen.  Dr. Allen (University of Nevada Reno) graciously hosted a well-received Bioinfomatics Workshop for our graduate students and presented a lecture in the Biology Department weekly seminar series.

Dr. Daniel Pincheira-Donoso

We also wish to thank Dr. Daniel Pincheira-Donoso who hailed from Queen's University Belfast for an illuminating and eloquent public lecture given here on campus this past spring.  Dr. Pincheira-Donoso highlighted species declines globally with an emphasis on amphibians. 

Jonathan Losos is a professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Center Launch, featuring Jonathan Losos, PhD, is a success

The Center's launch event, featuring keynote speaker Jonathan Losos, PhD, was well attended and a great success. Dr. Losos, a renowned evolutionary biologist, professor of Biology and the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, gave an insightful talk about his research on lizard adaptation in the Bahamas. View the lecture

Emily Geoghegan graduated with a master's degree in Biology.

Faculty Mentors Key to Biology Student’s Graduate Experience

Emily Geoghegan ’19 MS has been interested in nature and the environment since elementary school, but it wasn’t until after taking some influential courses in college that she decided she wanted to pursue a career in ecosystems science. As a master's student Geoghegan worked with CBEST faculty member Samatha Chapman, PhD, on her NSF-funded wetland protection study. Read more

This is the podcast logo for Research that Resonates.

CBEST Faculty Featured on College Podcast, "Research that Resonates"

Research that Resonates is a podcast from Villanova University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that takes listeners inside labs and classrooms to learn about important research our students are conducting alongside faculty mentors. The Sustainability miniseries features CBEST faculty Samatha Chapman and Nathaniel Weston. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify.

Recent News

Aaron Bauer is a professor of Biology.

Smallest known dinosaur is actually a peculiar ancient lizard

CBEST’s Aaron Bauer has described more than 205 reptiles (Read more) -more than any other living scientist. He is recently in the news for describing a new lizard which was recently thought to be the smallest known dinosaur.  Bauer is one of a group of scientists to describe the new lizard in a preprint recently made available and highlighted by National Geographic.      Read more

Kel Wieder, PhD

CBEST featured in KYW Newsradio, "Villanova's new biodiversity research center wants to make findings more understandable to public"

Kel Wieder, PhD, talks to KYW Newsradio about CBEST, the Center's mission and the obligation scientists have to communicate their research. "Nowadays, scientists and academic institutions have an obligation to make their work understandable to the general public and to explain how it's relevant and important," he said. Read more

Group photo of the IUCN Central and Southern African Reptile Assessment Workshop in Johannesburg.

Dr. Aaron Bauer, one of 20 world herpetology experts, finished up an evaluation (October) in South Africa to complete the Global Reptile Assessment

Prof. Aaron Bauer was 1 of 20 world experts who participated in the evaluation of the reptiles of Central and Southern Africa at a workshop held in South Africa for the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) (Oct, 2019). This organization established and maintains the Red List of Threatened Species, an authoritative assessment of the status of animals, plants, and fungi.This was the last of a series of workshops held to complete the Global Reptile Assessment (2020).  Dr. Bauer has also participated in similar workshops covering S. Africa, India, and New Caledonia. Read more

Students work in the field.

Villanova University Biologist Part of Research Team that Discovered How High CO2 Can Create “Shrinking Stems” in Marshes

For many plants, carbon dioxide acts like a steroid: The more they can take in, the bigger they get. Associate professor of Biology Adam Langley, PhD, was part of a research team who discovered something strange happening in marshes. Under higher levels of carbon dioxide, instead of producing bigger stems, marsh plants produced more stems that were noticeably smaller. Read more

Students conduct research on site.

Villanova University Researchers Part of Team in Determining the Critical Load of Atmospheric Nitrogen Endangering Northern Alberta Peat Bog Ecosystems

Three Villanova University researchers, part of a team that through a five-year study in Alberta, Canada determined the “critical load”—or recommended maximum amount of nitrogen that can enter the region’s peat bogs through precipitation without causing damage to its ecosystem—have released their findings in an article published June 18 in Ecological Monographs. Read more