September 27, 2010

$1.5 Million Grant to Expand Biodiversity Institute Research

A prestigious 4-year, $1.5 million federal stimulus grant combined with funds allocated by the University of Kansas is expected to transform the research capabilities of the KU Biodiversity Institute.

The grant from the National Science Foundation will fund major laboratory renovations, advance and modernize research facilities, and increase the capacity for training graduate students in biodiversity science in Dyche Hall, a 107-year-old building.

Specifically, the funding will:
•    Revamp a five-laboratory Genomics Complex for sequencing genetic material, cloning ancient DNA and preserving 80,000 genetic samples in a cryogenic facility.
•     Install new biotic and morphology analysis laboratories for exploring the body and skeletal attributes of organisms.
•    Install a modern Geographic Information Systems laboratory for analyzing and forecasting environmental phenomena, such as the potential spread of diseases and pests
•    Install a modern, four-fold larger data server room to store and provide global access to biodiversity information.

The grant is complemented by a $1.3 million project funded by KU for upgrading Dyche Hall’s electrical, cyber, and heating and air conditioning service.

Construction is expected to begin in November and will conclude by 2013.

The National Science Foundation awarded the grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 under a program entitled Academic Research Infrastructure: Repair and Renovation. 

“This major investment in the Biodiversity Institute by the National Science Foundation speaks to our international and national leadership in research and research training in biodiversity science,” said Leonard Krishtalka, director of the Biodiversity Institute.  “This project will keep KU and our scientists and students at the forefront of knowledge discovery of the life of the planet.  It will enable us to tackle more complex research problems facing science and society, from deciphering the tree of life of animals and plants, to forecasting the effects of climate change on the potential spread of deadly diseases and harmful pests.”

The Biodiversity Institute, which includes the KU Natural History Museum, is a research center with a worldwide collection of 8 million plants and animals and 1.2 million archaeological artifacts. More than 120 scientists and graduate students in the institute study the species, ecosystems and cultures of the planet to understand the history, composition, geography and evolution of life.