The Gretchen Hoadley Burke '81 Endowed Chair for Regional Studies is an annual appointment that supports outstanding teaching and research on the Upstate New York region.


The appointment is for both Colgate faculty and leading scholars in and/or on the Upstate New York region. The Burke Chair teaches two courses during his or her appointment and provides lectures open to the campus and the community. Established in 2006 by Stephen Burke '80 and Gretchen Hoadley Burke '81, this chair is supported by an endowment fund created to support and recognize outstanding scholars whose research interests focus on Upstate New York.

Current Chair

Catherine Cardelús, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, has been named the Gretchen Hoadley Burke ’81 Endowed Chair in Regional Studies for one year, beginning July 1, 2019.

Catherine earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut. At Colgate, she teaches courses on Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology, Tropical Ecology with Extended Study to Costa Rica, Ecosystem Ecology, and Conservation Biology and Practice. Catherine has a longstanding commitment to teaching about the Upstate region, regularly providing opportunities for her students to explore areas of Madison County to learn about where they live, how local ecosystems work, and, making use of regional resources, study their own impact on local ecology.

Catherine’s research has focused primarily on tropical forest canopies, asking essential questions:  What are the patterns of biodiversity, and how will biodiversity respond to a changing environment? She has conducted research in the rainforest of Costa Rica, where she studies the factors that control species richness and distribution. Most recently, she has researched and published widely on the vulnerabilities and conservation of the sacred church forests of Ethiopia.  She has received numerous grants and awards, including an NSF grant to study Mechanisms of Religious Management for Forest Persistence. Catherine has also focused significant research on the Upstate region, examining the effects of acid rain in the Adirondacks, climate change in our region, and, through quantifying the local deer population annually and working with local officials, she has evaluated ways to address deer overpopulation. Catherine’s commitment to having students study the complexities of our local ecosystem, understand the biological impacts and governmental policy in place, and work with them to provide data and ideas for the benefit of the local community support the mutually beneficial goals of the Upstate Institute.

Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies