Butterfly Garden

Living Earth Collaborative

A Signature Initiative

Arts & Sciences at Washington University will become a world leader in research, conservation, and education about the biological world and its interrelationship with human welfare, environmental justice and public health.

To further this initiative, we will partner with several of our local, internationally renowned institutions: 

  • The Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the world’s top three botanical gardens for cutting-edge botanical research
  • The Saint Louis Zoo, a recognized world leader both for its on-grounds operations and research as well as its global conservation program
  • Additional local, first-rate institutions concerned with biodiversity research, conservation, and education, such as the internationally renowned Endangered Wolf Center, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the St. Louis Aquarium

The new and enhanced Living Earth Collaborative will hire stellar faculty in these areas, attracting top students and scientists at all levels to study at Washington University through world-leading research programs and enhanced collaborations with local institutions. 

Faculty Engagement

Living Earth Collaborative Advisory Board

Robin McDowell, assistant professor of African & African American studies, Arts & Sciences
Professor McDowell’s research explores historical dimensions of environmental racism and visions for environmental justice for Black communities. 

David Fike, professor of Earth and planetary sciences; director of the environmental studies program; 
director of the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, Arts & Sciences
Professor Fike is interested in the detailed working of global biogeochemical cycles, their evolution over Earth history, and their impact on biological evolution.​

Ken Olsen, professor of biology; associate chair of biology, Arts & Sciences
Professor Olsen's research focuses on the genetic basis of evolution in plants: how is the genetic variation that we find within a species shaped by natural selection, population history, and other evolutionary forces?

Fangqiong Ling, assistant professor, Engineering
Professor Ling leads a computational and experimental lab to study bacterial colonization and transmission at the boundary of built and natural environments. She explores microbiomes as environmental sensors and public health sentinels.