Friday Letter 2017-02-03:
Making Things Happen with Our New Research Facility
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This week, research and scholarship at UI took a leap forward with the opening of the Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC). Idaho’s research leader now has a world-class center for interdisciplinary research and discovery in the heart of our Moscow campus. IRIC gives us the ability to take on key research questions in new ways, and it sends a signal about who we are and who we will become.
IRIC offers cutting-edge space for our outstanding faculty researchers and for undergraduate and graduate students who are gaining hands-on experience. The building is designed to be adaptable for the teams who will rotate in and out, with specialized equipment and flexible laboratory set-ups. This facility embraces the full spectrum of research and scholarship at UI, not just in science, technology and engineering, but also in the social sciences, humanities, and arts. In the words of Vice President for Research and Economic Development Janet Nelson, “Each space is defined by the imagination of the researchers in it.”
When I began as president, the space where IRIC now stands was an empty field, but the groundwork had been laid for the facility. We were joined for the Tuesday ribbon-cutting by many people who helped make the building a reality, including Dayaldas Meshri, Ph.D., a graduate in chemistry and supporter of the building. Meshri studied under professor Jean’ne Shreeve and with professor Malcom Renfrew. He continues a tradition of excellence as a chemist, business leader and philanthropist, and he’s remained a closely connected member of the Vandal family for many years.
More than 20 teams were accepted to move into IRIC, and research projects have already begun. Ribbon-cutting attendees had a chance to tour the building and see those projects in action, including a new home for research on the potato cyst nematode, ways to prepare communities for wildfire, archaeological studies of Idaho history and culture, health care policy analysis, brain and spinal cord modeling, and much more.
We have a new growth mindset at the University of Idaho. Our destiny is under our control. We are going to continue to expand our leading research position in the state and beyond. As University Distinguished Professor and the leader of the IRIC-based Center for Modeling Complex Interactions Holly Wichman said during the ceremony, “Let’s make things happen.”
Every faculty member and student, whether their lab happens to be in IRIC or not, should look at this building as in investment in our very bright future.