Announcements From the VPR

Research Insights

A summer update on research infrastructure

Many of you no doubt saw the news last month about Georgia’s FY2023 state budget commitment of nearly $40 million toward the renovation of Science Hill. This massive project will involve major renovations of several Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)-related buildings in the heart of campus. These facilities, such the Chemistry and Biological Sciences buildings, were designed for the needs of scientists working in the 1950s and ’60s, and of course those needs have changed dramatically in the past 50 years.

We must renovate Science Hill to meet the needs of 21st century researchers, and the improvements will be ongoing. This month, however, I want to draw your attention to the many smaller projects that may not generate the headlines that Science Hill and the I-STEM complex produce, but just as important to our research mission.

The Office of Research (OoR) serves a vital coordinating role among UGA researchers, academic units, Finance and Administration (F&A), Facilities Management Division (FMD), University Architects and other units to help prioritize and financially support research-related capital improvements. Led by Associate Vice President Carl Bergmann, we work closely with F&A and FMD to monitor UGA’s research infrastructure and address areas of need.

Let me share a few projects in which we’re currently involved:

  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) work in several locations. A number of UGA research and instructional spaces have experienced problems in recent years with their heating, cooling and ventilation systems. We’ve partnered with FMD, which has begun or recently completed repair and remediation efforts in the College of Pharmacy, Riverbend South, Center for Applied Isotope Studies, Animal and Dairy Science, and Tucker Hall.
  • College of Veterinary Medicine renovations. The south wing of the CVM building housing research and vivaria (the space for veterinary student surgery training). As usage plans for this part of the building change—it is also serviced by an outdated HVAC system—OoR is participating in an engineering study to determine the best design and components and is spearheading the funding request for renovations.
  • Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) renovations. UGA has stepped up its efforts related to NAGPRA, and we recently worked with FMD to help the Laboratory of Archaeology upgrade its storage capacity for NAGPRA-related artifacts by completing a new, secure, climate-controlled space within the lab’s existing facility on Whitehall Road.
  • Plant Biology/Biological Sciences headhouse. The support building for the Plant Biology Greenhouses, serving research and educational needs for the Division of Biological Sciences, is home to 12 large, National Science Foundation-funded growth chambers with an estimated replacement cost exceeding $1 million. Unfortunately, the lack of adequate climate control has led to persistent research interruptions due to mechanical failure, as well as limited availability from May to October due to excessive heat. We recently worked with FMD, which added cooling and insulation to provide a stable, controlled environment that will eliminate interruptions while extending the life of the equipment by years (and at an estimated 5% of replacement cost).
  • UGA Marine Institute (UGAMI). The lab facilities at UGAMI on Sapelo Island have been almost completely renovated over the last five years. All major systems, including HVAC, lighting and flood mitigation features, have been updated. Next we’ll focus on bringing the same cost-effective, transformational approach to UGAMI’s housing needs.

This is a small sample out of a much larger population of projects of all shapes and sizes, reaching from Athens to the Georgia coast and multiple points in between. As I’m sure you are aware, on a campus as large as UGA’s, there are many, many needs. We’re committed to working with you and our campus partners to prioritize resource allocations so that our improvements have the widest possible positive impact.

We’re committed to ensuring that you and your teams have access to effective, up-to-date physical space and equipment. If you have questions, please reach out to Carl or to me.

I hope you’re having a great summer!

Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research