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Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship (CBEST)

Global temperatures are rising, storms are intensifying, rainfall patterns are changing, seas are swelling, and nutrient pollution is increasing;  animal and plant species are going extinct before they are even named. Research in the natural sciences has never been more important and impactful.

This is the CBEST logo

CBEST Statement on Racism, Equality, and Justice

CBEST strongly supports the movement and the principles of Black Lives Matter. The 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....

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......

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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.  In the meantime, we will be hosting on-line events and sponsoring research events virtually.   

Stay tuned and follow us on Twitter @CBEST_Nova.

Spring 2021:

AAAS Science Communication Engaging the Public with Social Media Workshop took place March 27, 2021 and was geared to our graduate students and other graduate students at the University. This course introduces scientists and engineers to the latest science communication research and basic best practices for engaging with the public.  Students and PI's alike learned much.

CBEST co-sponsored Earth Day Activities We are pleased to help sponsor Earth Day activities including Dr. Katharine Hayhoe's Earth Day Keynote Address titled “Christians, Climate, and our Culture in the U.S.” on Thursday evening April 22 starting at 5:30pm. The event will be virtual this year, and registration for the webinar can be found here.  Dr. Hayhoe is a renowned climate scientist at Texas Tech University with over 125 publications and, perhaps more importantly, a master of communicating the science and impacts of climate change and how her faith informs her work. The Earth Day team is extremely excited that Dr. Hayhoe has agreed to join us.

To Be Re-Scheduled:

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.



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.

map thumbnail of cbest research

Research Map

We are scientists working all over the world.  Our research takes place at sites ranging from the tropics to the boreal and everywhere in between, with a focus ranging from the overarching ecosystem to the individual organism.  Tour the locations of our CBEST research.


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 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.

Science Slams have been 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.  We've also hosted several lectures and workshops and will continue to work in this virtual world to keep the science moving.


This winter CBEST hosted a AAAS Science Communications Workshop for graduate students here at Villanova.  As we look to the future, communicating science in ways that will benefit our communities and the ecosystems in which we work is incredibly important.  Our graduate students recognize the importance of communication in science and requested this workshop.  We will continue to work for our future and honor the commitment we have to our science, to our study sites and subjects, and to our students as they make change in the world.

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

Center Launch, featuring Dr. Jonathan Losos

The Center's launch event, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Jonathan Losos was a wonderful way to begin our Center work in 2019. 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 is a Villanova University podcast 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