Research I Grand Opening Showcases Groundbreaking Work

Posted: January 22, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Guido Cervone with hurricane poster
Guido Cervone’s groundbreaking earthquake research is taking place in Mason’s first building devoted solely to research.
Creative Services photo

By Tara Laskowski

This week, George Mason University’s first building to bring together research from all disciplines has its official grand opening — a chance to demonstrate the innovative and forward-thinking work already going on within all the building’s passageways and corridors.

Though the building with its striking astronomical observatory tower has been open since the start of the fall 2006 semester, Research I will be buzzing with even more activity on Wednesday, Jan. 24, when the building’s resources and capabilities are showcased. Guided tours will be held from 2 to 4 p.m., and there will be exhibits and displays from various research centers and departments.

At 2 p.m. in room 163, Matthew Kluger, vice president of research and economic development, will introduce guest speaker William Jeffrey, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal technology agency. Provost Peter Stearns will be the master of ceremonies.

Housing Innovative Thinkers

Research I is the first of its kind at Mason. The 98,974-square-foot building is designed almost exclusively to support the institution’s growing need for research space. Construction began in 2003 as an answer to the significant need for faculty offices and research laboratories. The approximate cost of the building is $21.7 million.

Research I
Research I

“We are very excited about Research I because it is very much in sync with the university’s vision of becoming a more research-based institution,” says Kluger.

Within these walls, Zafer Boybeyi is developing models of how toxic gases diffuse through the atmosphere, Menas Kafatos and his team are researching the effects of global warming on hurricanes and Roy Rosenzweig and other digital historians are creating new software tools to make teaching and learning on the Web easier and more effective.

The building houses the Office of Sponsored Programs and the Office of Research Subject Protections. It also houses the College of Science, which includes the Center for Earth Observing and Space Research, the Center for Quantum Studies, the Center for Spatial Information Science and System and others.

In addition, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences has its Center for History and New Media located in the building, and the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering has its Center for Secure Information Systems and Learning Agents Center housed there. Krasnow Institute’s Center for Social Complexity is also located in Research I.

A new high-tech astronomy laboratory, which includes a rooftop observatory and support space, is expected to be completed within the year.

Research Expenditures to Grow

Completing Research I is just one step toward Mason becoming a world-class research university and adding to Northern Virginia’s reputation as a regional economic powerhouse. The university’s total annual research expenditure is currently $68.3 million, and administrators are implementing plans to grow this expenditure to $150 million in the next five years.

Plans to increase this research expenditure include focusing on faculty recruitment in areas of bioscience, computational sciences and related disciplines; partnering with local industries to create new products and companies; and hosting numerous research symposia in which Mason students and faculty will exchange ideas with the top minds in their fields.

Planning is already under way for Mason’s second and third research buildings, which will house the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering on the Fairfax Campus and the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory on the Prince William Campus, which was funded in part by a $25 million NIH grant.

“We are very pleased to finally see this important facility become a reality,” says Kluger about Research I. “Through the efforts of many fine scholars at our institution and the guidance of President [Alan] Merten and Provost Stearns, the university has been making significant strides over the past few years in increasing its research efforts. Research I is an important benchmark for us.”

Kluger emphasizes that Research I is not just for research faculty. Graduate and undergraduate students, he notes, will have ample opportunities to work with faculty on a range of projects and research efforts.

“Our students and faculty already have a number of viable partnerships in place in many areas of research. Research I enhances the opportunities for collaboration and learning.”

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