Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is expanding with two new buildings. Construction has started on a state-of-the-art arid lands center and funding has been approved for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture facility. Both buildings are scheduled for completion in fall 2000.
"Construction is underway on the new Center for Sustainable Development of Arid Lands," said Gary Cunningham, NMSU's interim vice president for research. "The ground breaking has been done. They are preparing the site and beginning to drill for the footings."
The $22 million, 116,000-square-foot, three-floor building will be located at the corner of College Drive and Knox Street.
"It's going to be magnificent," Cunningham said. "Inside it's going to be a very modern teaching and research facility. But the outside is going to blend in with the traditional architecture at New Mexico State University. So it will look striking, but not out of place."
Features in the building will include an electron microscope laboratory and a quarantine laboratory.
"The quarantine laboratory will be one of the most unique things in the facility. The lab will be used in research on integrated pest management," he said.
Researchers will be able to bring in insects to learn about their life cycles without releasing them into the environment.
The building will house three college departments: agronomy and horticulture; Extension plant sciences; and entomology, plant pathology and weed science.
"The building is really designed to facilitate interdisciplinary research and teaching," Cunningham said. "We'll be able to develop new knowledge and train students in those areas that are outside or at the margins of our current disciplines."
Solving environmental problems often involves a number of disciplines, he said. For example, dealing with a pest problem may involve natural predators, introduced predators, weather conditions and range management practices.
"If you think about the environment, it involves the biological and physical agents that are in the environment," Cunningham said. "But it also involves the people in the environment, and the social sciences are often an important part of solving these problems."
Kris Havstad, director of the Jornada Experimental Range, said the second new building -- a $6.7 million facility -- will continue the interdisciplinary trend by bringing in federal agriculture researchers.
Funding for the new Jornada facility was approved in October with the signing of the federal omnibus budget bill. The 29,000- square-foot, two-story, L-shaped building with six laboratories, offices for 45 people and a small conference facility will be located south of the college's Gerald Thomas Hall.
Agencies to be housed in the building will include the USDA's Agricultural Research Service and Environmental Protection Agency. Faculty involved in the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research program and other specific projects also will work in the new building.
Ground breaking is scheduled for September 1999.
"Like the new Center for Sustainable Development of Arid Lands, the new Jornada building is greatly the result of the efforts of John Owens," Havstad said. Owens is NMSU's interim executive vice president.
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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