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


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.


Please Note:  All upcoming events have been put on hold.  We will update as the University returns to on-campus activites.

Julie Allen, Department of Biology, University of Nevada Reno gave a departmental seminar March 12 (Co-sponsored CBEST/Biology Department) and a Bioinformatics workshop the following Saturday, March 14, 2020.  

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.

Stay tuned for more info about our rescheduled activites a yet to be determined time/place Future Career Discussion for interested students. 


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

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.

Dr. Daniel Pincheira-Donoso

We wish to thank Dr. Daniel Pincheira-Donoso who hails from Queen's University Belfast for an illuminating and eloquent public lecture given here on campus.  Dr. Pincheira-Donoso highlighted species declines globally with an emphasis on amphibians.  Something to think about is that data suggests "biodiversity hotspots" rarely equate to "extinction hotspots".   


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.

A menagerie of 20 microendemic and critically endangered reptiles newly described

CBEST’s Aaron Bauer has described more than 205 reptiles (Read more) -more than any other living scientist. This year, he adds another 20 to the tree of life. Bauer recommends that many of these reptiles be listed as critically endangered due to their microendemism—a term used to describe species only found in an extremely small geographic range. These animals are particularly susceptible to disturbance and we are reminded that the interconnection and rich diversity of plants and animals is what allows life on Earth to thrive. Finding these microendemic species is crucial for conservation. 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