In accordance with Western Carolina University’s policies in response to COVID-19, the Highlands Biological Station is currently closed to the public, but is open to researchers and faculty on a limited basis. Researchers and faculty interested in reserving research and residential space should contact the HBS office (828-526-2602) for information on availability, rates, and reservations. Field courses, workshops, and HBS Nature Center programming are cancelled for the 2020 season. The HBS Botanical Gardens remain open, except for trails that are closed due to construction.

Board of Directors

The Highlands Biological Station (HBS) is a Multi-campus Center of the University of Western Carolina University consisting of academic research, teaching, and residential facilities as well as a natural history museum (Highlands Nature Center) and a 12-acre native plant botanical garden (Highlands Botanical Garden). The Highlands Biological Station is primarily University-supported, with additional funding provided by grants, program revenue, and the non-profit Highlands Biological Foundation, Inc. Our mission is:

To foster research and education focused on the rich natural heritage of the Highlands Plateau, while preserving and celebrating the integrity of the “biological crown of the southern Appalachian Mountains.”

HBS realizes its mission of education and research broadly through (1) support of scientific research and graduate training, (2) an annual program of accredited field biology courses for undergraduate and graduate students as well as hosting visiting academic groups, and (3) a diverse outreach programming for regional K-12 schools and the local community.

Administrative oversight of HBS is provided by the Office of the Provost at Western Carolina University, to which the Executive Director and Board of Directors report. The HBS Board of Directors, consisting of representatives from UNC-affiliated and non-UNC colleges and universities, works with the Executive Director on Station management and policy.

 Current HBS Board of Directors:


Dr. James T. Costa

HBS Executive Director & Department of Biology, Western Carolina University


Dr. Patrick Abbot (Chair)

Professor of Biology, Vanderbilt University


Dr. Andy Ash

Professor of Biology, UNC-Pembroke


Dr. Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell

Department of Biology, University of North Carolina-Greensboro


Dr. Paul Manos

Department of Biology, Duke University


Dr. Tom Martin

Department of Biology, Western Carolina University


Dr. Howard Neufeld

Department of Biology, Appalachian State University


Dr. Matthew Parrow

Department of Biological Sciences, UNC-Charlotte


Dr. Brandon Schwab, Associate Provost, Western Carolina University


Ms. Julia Grumbles, President, Highlands Biological Foundation, Inc.