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Villanova's Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship Wins Big at Philadelphia Flower Show

CBEST Exhibit 2

The 2022 Philadelphia Flower Show has wrapped up and Villanova’s Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship (CBEST) made a big splash with its educational and award-winning exhibit, “Blooming Biodiversity.”

“Blooming Biodiversity'' explored local habitats and native plants and their relevance to the health of ecosystems and humans alike. Featuring a bog, a marshy wetland, an upland forest, and an open meadow, “Blooming Biodiversity” was designed and implemented by a team of students and researchers at Villanova in order to showcase the variety of Pennsylvania ecosystems. The exhibit focused on Pennsylvania species and the importance of native biodiversity to the resiliency and health of habitats in a changing world.

Each of the exhibits’ mini-ecosystems flowed one into the next. Blooms and textures within the systems were populated exclusively with native trees, shrubs, and herbs, adding to the viewer’s sense of natural abundance. The meandering boardwalk, much like those built at research sites used by the students and researchers, ran throughout the exhibit to help connect science with nature. In order to explain the complicated systems involved, the team placed research tools throughout the exhibit (such as a precipitation collector used to evaluate rainwater chemistry, field notebooks, and automated bird feeders used to tease apart bird behaviors) which encouraged viewers to think about how and why we seek to understand ecosystems and how important they are globally.

Blooming Biodiversity exhibit sign

All plants from the exhibit are returning to Villanova where they will be incorporated into educational displays. “This exhibit was made so much better because of the support our team had from the grounds department here at Villanova and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with them as we bring plants back to campus and add to the native biodiversity not only in our butterfly garden near Mendel (which will be getting a big boost of plants) but also campus-wide with trees, shrubs, and wetland plants,” said Kimberli Scott, Research Associate and CBEST exhibit leader. 

And what is next for CBEST? “Well, we are excited at the prospect of working more closely with Stoneleigh and the Natural Lands Trust as we highlight biodiversity and native habitat preservation and creation,” Scott says. “We’ll be back in the fall bringing more in-person seminars to Villanova and to the community as a whole.” And Scott, reflecting on the project and the work her team has done, hopes to take what she learned and implement it in her daily life. “We certainly all learned a great deal and I think the experience has made me much more cognizant of the importance and feasibility of using native species in gardens of all sizes - from a university scale to my small backyard.” Until then, CBEST will continue its research project fieldwork while educating students, researchers, and community members along the way.

CBEST Exhibit 3


“Blooming Biodiversity” won the following awards:

WINNER of the 2022 PHS Gardening for the Greater Good for Education exhibits.

WINNER of the 2022 Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association Trophy.

WINNER of the 2022 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Gold Medal for Educational exhibits.

WINNER of The 2022 PHS Silver Medal (Educational) for major exhibits receiving 80-89 points.


CBEST promotes 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. Housed within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, led by a team of scientists at the forefront of their fields, and reinforced by the contributions of graduate and undergraduate researchers, CBEST integrates science with action, working with a diverse community of experts in locations around the world to preserve biodiversity, manage complicated ecosystems and combat the challenges posed by an uncertain future.