$3.6 million grant anchor of renovations for UT biosphere restoration research

September 9, 2010 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk

The University of Toledo has been awarded more than $3.6 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to construct state-of-the-art research laboratories that will house the College of Arts and Sciences’ new Center for Biosphere Restoration Research. Construction is slated to begin this month.

The Bowman-Oddy Laboratories renovation is part of a nearly $8 million effort that also will improve office and meeting space and remodel part of the space being vacated by the College of Pharmacy in the conjoined Wolfe Hall as that college’s higher divisions move to new and renovated facilities on Health Science Campus. The renovations not covered by the NSF grant will be paid for with UT capital dollars.

“The new Center for Biosphere Restoration Research will be dedicated to research and education in the science needed to secure an environmentally sustainable future,” said Dr. Geoffrey Martin, professor and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, who led the NSF grant proposal.

“UT has a strong and highly collaborative environmental research emphasis that is supported by modern facilities, including the Lake Erie Center, UT’s College of Engineering, and this new facility will further strengthen UT’s leadership in this area,” Martin said. “Thirteen faculty and researchers will lead various aspects of this center as they work to build a nationally recognized center for sustainability research at UT.”

The renovation will come in two phases. The first will be a remodeling of space in Wolfe Hall, which will house dislocated instructional laboratories and also serve as swing space for researchers as their laboratories in Bowman-Oddy are renovated beginning in spring semester 2011. The goal is to occupy the new space in spring 2012.

“This is one more example of how we’re using existing space to improve UT research facilities at far less cost,” said Chuck Lehnert, vice president for facilities and construction. Lehnert said the new laboratories will be larger, more open, and designed to facilitate collaboration.

“The infrastructure in these labs will be modular, meaning that over time we’ll be able to easily and cheaply reconfigure the layout of the labs as the needs of researchers change,” Lehnert said. “This is an approach we’ve already taken in new laboratories on the Health Science Campus and is designed specifically to use the shared space to promote collaboration between researchers.”

Dr. Nina McClelland, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and interim dean of the School of Solar and Advanced Renewable Energy, said the award from the NSF is just one more piece of evidence highlighting the strength of the Department of Environmental Sciences and the Department of Chemistry.

“The scientists in these departments are conducting research that is recognized around the globe,” McClelland said. “Combined with outstanding research taking place at the Lake Erie Center, the Center for Biosphere Restoration Research will position The University of Toledo as one of the top centers of environmental and bioresearch in the nation.”

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