The largest department in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNM is the Biology Department. In the last 10 years, biology majors have increased 275 percent at UNM. The growing student enrollment has placed significant pressure on existing facilities to support research and instruction. Castetter Hall, which houses the department, was originally designed in 1968. Renovations the past three years have helped ease the burden of a 20 percent average increase spanning 10 years of department growth.
But more needs to be done to update and modernize the building. Currently students and faculty utilize existing over crowded, outdated labs, storing equipment in halls and offices that are forced to serve as resource libraries. Despite the undersized, inadequate facility, the Biology Department currently supports 10 long term ecological and water quality scientific programs; partnering and serving with UNM's Engineering, Chemistry, Earth and Planetary Sciences Departments and broader community research participants such as Bosque Preparatory School and the City of Albuquerque.
The Biology Department generates UNM's highest annual research funding of more than $8 million in grants per year. Research is a fundamental component of education. Renovation positions the institution for further grant consideration from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Both projects supports UNM's five year strategic plan for Student Success, sustaining "retention and graduation" and Innovative Research "creating and sustaining the conditions under which the brightest and best innovative research will be conducted and applied for the benefit of New Mexico the country and the world."
Bond D includes $6 million for renovation including an additional 30,000 sq. ft. that expands and consolidates the existing biology building to complete appropriate research laboratories for hands on student training, equipment rooms and offices for faculty and graduate assistants in research for the growing program. In addition, this project provides replacement space for the programs currently housed in the Biology Annex, an energy inefficient building that will be demolished once this component of the project is completed. Phase II of the Castetter Hall renovation will complete two upgrades that will support and enhance the Biology Department, that currently serves more than 1,100 students, 90 percent of which are from New Mexico.
The project will be designed and built to a minimum of LEED Silver Standards and satisfy LEED silver energy consumption target reductions.
The second component provides research and education laboratory space at the Sevilleta Research Station north of Socorro by completing the build out of constructed 6,600 sq. ft. of shelled space which includes research labs, offices and support space. Sevilleta Research Station projects have previously constructed approximately 19,600 GSF of space in two phases. This third and final phase consists of the build-out of 6,600 sq ft of shell space to provide research and education laboratory space at the Sevilleta Research Station.
The building will provide support for programs and partnerships such as Schoolyard LTER which opens the facility to students for field research and data collection from over 40 public and private schools across the state. The program has a GK-12 grant that provides financial assistance and sends UNM students to work with middle school teachers to help them strengthen their science curriculum.
These are the final phases necessary to complete the facility construction and upgrades in both locations. The expansions will provide opportunities for undergraduate research, which will enhance undergraduate education and assist with retention.