During this year’s general election, voters statewide have the opportunity to help The University of New Mexico upgrade several old and outdated laboratories in several key areas across campus with the passage of GO Bond C including the Department of Biology. Passage of the GO Bond C will NOT increase taxes and will help generate more than 1,500 jobs across New Mexico.
Built in the 1950s, several renovations and lab upgrades are part of a $2 million project that will help address critical facility needs for UNM’s research programs including several projects in Castetter Hall, the home of the UNM Biology Department. They include an upgrade to a cage wash facility to meet laboratory standards and upgrade 40+ year-old cage/bottle washer; a biology lab renovation to renew HVAC, casework/sinks, upgrade power and lab utilities to best support bioinformatics/genomics research in support of UNM’s interdisciplinary Data to Knowledge initiative.
Other projects include 4,500 square feet of shelled space in Farris Engineering to upgrade UNM’s Innovation Plaza with inter/multi/transdisciplinary laboratory space and refurbishment of a Mechanical Engineering Lab to accommodate the operation of a hydrogen furnace
This project was developed due to the critical need for long-neglected facility and infrastructure renewal and improvements, which will upgrade critical campus-wide academic and research infrastructure on UNM’s main campus. Research is a fundamental aspect of UNM’s mission. As the only Carnegie R1 Flagship Institution in New Mexico, the development and maintenance of high-quality research infrastructure is a priority.
“Part of the Bond C ask for this year is $2 million that will go for research infrastructure upgrades. Those upgrades are going to several facilities around UNMs main campus, especially those related to biology, chemistry, and computational biology,” said Tom Turner, associate dean of Research and biology professor. “Modern research facilities are absolutely crucial to be able to attract and retain some of the best faculty on the team and to come and serve students in New Mexico. These infrastructure investments will allow for increases in classroom teaching and also hands-on training in the laboratory.”
The Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico is one of the biggest academic units in the state with approximately 40 tenure track faculty, 1,300 majors, more than 100 graduate students, as well 90+ staff and research support positions. Additionally, non-majors courses, which are now taken by nearly 2,000 students each year, serve as key entry points for the allied health sciences.
Collectively, departmental research activities generate millions in grant funding per year, while the department is home to some of UNM's most prestigious academic programs and faculty. Faculty are productive publishing more than 100 papers per year, including a high fraction of the state's output in preeminent journals such as Science and Nature.
This project will also support opportunities to expand external research funding, assist in faculty recruitment and retention, and provide additional educational opportunities for UNM students.
“A renovated biology lab itself would be much brighter and is designed with the appropriate electrical outlets and things to support the equipment,” said Turner. “One of the biology labs that really needs to be renovated, which caseworkers probably put installed in the 1950s, is a lot of the electrical system that has been sort of bootstrapped in and the quarters are really close and it makes it very difficult (to work).
“But what's really concerning is the access for people with disabilities to come into the lab and work. There's just a number of things that need to be renovated to make it fully functional and to serve our students at The University of New Mexico.”
In addition to the $2 million research infrastructure upgrade project, four other projects comprise the $13.2 million academic and research infrastructure upgrades including:
- Learning Environment & Technology Support (Wi-Fi) - $3.2 million
- Electrical Infrastructure Renewal - $2 million
- Campus Fiber Renewal - $2.5 million
- Edge Switch Equipment Refresh - $3.5 million
For more information on GO Bond C and project descriptions for these projects, visit Academic & Research Infrastructure Upgrades.