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Villanova University Opens Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship

VILLANOVA, PA – Global temperatures are increasing, storms intensifying, and rainfall patterns changing. Nutrient pollution is increasingly affecting land and water, sea levels are rising, and animal and plant species are being lost before they can even be named. As a result of these developments, research in the natural sciences is now more important and impactful than ever before. Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is launching the Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship (CBEST), to advance research that is focused on the biological principles, components, and ramifications of biodiversity and ecosystem science in a changing world.

Biodiversity science examines the variety of organisms that inhabit the earth, while ecosystem science examines the flow of energy and matter through organisms and their surrounding environments to understand the function of Earth’s ecosystems. CBEST is committed to studying and promoting biodiversity and ecosystem science from biological, evolutionary, and ecological perspectives. The Center is equally committed to educating and developing undergraduate and graduate students—training them as young scientists who will share their knowledge with universities and the community at large.

CBEST will capitalize on the research strengths of its core faculty, particularly in the areas of biodiversity and ecosystem science. Six Villanova professors who are distinguished leaders in their fields have come together to create the new Center. They are Biology professors Samantha Chapman, PhD; Aaron Bauer, PhD; Todd Jackman, PhD; R. Kelman Wieder, PhD; and Adam Langley, PhD and associate professor and chair of Geography and the Environment Nathaniel Weston, PhD.

CBEST is in step with Villanova’s Augustinian mission and commitment to sustainability as well as with Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudito Si, which details the human-caused threats to ecosystems and biodiversity and highlights the need for research efforts in these disciplines. In 2007 the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75 CLAS, Villanova University president, signed the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment.

“Along with reflecting our strong commitment to sustainability, by bringing together these six outstanding experts in their fields CBEST will further enhance and increase research opportunities in the College for our undergraduate and graduate students,” says Adele Lindenmeyr, PhD, dean, Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “We also intend the Center to serve as a great resource for the community at large, including schools and community groups.”

The new Center will host a public launch celebration Monday, October 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a presentation by Jonathan Losos, PhD, professor of Biology and the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, as well the founding director of the Living Earth Collaborative—a biodiversity partnership between Washington University, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Saint Louis Zoo. Dr. Losos is the author of the 2018 book, Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution, which tackles questions about how evolution works in a style that has been called a refreshingly accessible narrative.

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