College’s newest building promotes scientific synergy

By Zeke Barlow

On March 21 , the college celebrated the formal opening of its newest addition — Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 — with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a reception, and speeches by President Charles W. Steger, Dean Alan Grant, and students who will conduct research in the state-of-the-art facility.

“The research activities and discoveries made in this building will become the cornerstone of programs that will directly benefit the citizens of the commonwealth and the agriculture, food, and health industries,” Grant said during the event that was attended by more than 250 people. “The work that is happening in the new building will bring the promise of a healthy planet, healthy food, and healthy people.”

This new building and the future biosciences precinct are going to help the agriculture and life sciences disciplines and industries thrive while looking to the future to solve emerging challenges. – Dean Alan Grant

In the 93,860-square-foot building, researchers and students from multiple disciplines will collaborate on issues ranging from fermentation and food safety to bioprocessing and biofuels and further research, academic, and Virginia Cooperative Extension efforts.

Mike Zhang in his new lab where he is working on a vaccine for the porcine pandemic.

Mike Zhang in his new lab where he is working on a vaccine for the porcine pandemic.

These synergistic relationships allow the college to expand its scientific reach to address critical issues concerning agriculture, food security, human health, energy, and climate change that will impact people the world over.

The $53.7 million building at the intersection of Duck Pond Drive and Washington Street is the first of four planned for the Human and Agricultural Biosciences Precinct.

In the building, scientists from the Department of Biological Systems Engineering are developing new energy sources to power the world, building water delivery systems that ensure people have clean water, finding ways to combat addiction through vaccines, and creating targeted drug delivery systems to fight diseases.

At the same time, researchers from the Department of Food Science and Technology are helping industries provide healthy food for the world through pasteurization, fermentation, packaging, emulsion stability, probiotic culture viability, ingredient technology, and product and process development.

“This is an exciting time for the college,” Grant said. “This new building and the future biosciences precinct are going to help the agriculture and life sciences disciplines and industries thrive while looking to the future to solve emerging challenges.”

HABB1 buildingAbout the building:

  • The Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 is a 93,860-square-foot research facility that is home to scientists from the departments of Biological Systems Engineering and Food Science and Technology.
  • Natural lighting, passive heat, and recycled building materials are among the many environmentally friendly features of the LEED-certified building.
  • Funds from Agency 229, which comprises the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension, were used for the building’s construction. Private gifts are being sought to pay for high-tech equipment and to support students, faculty members, and research initiatives.
  • The biosecurity level 2 certified food processing facility allows scientists to conduct experiments involving E. coli, salmonella, and other pathogens that require a heightened level of security and training.
  • This is the first of four buildings planned for the Human and Agricultural Biosciences Precinct, where many researchers from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be located.
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