NSF grant to fund new research facilities at KU Field Station

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LAWRENCE — An interdisciplinary team of 12 KU collaborators has received a $330,000 award from the National Science Foundation to develop greenhouse-based research capabilities and to construct associated support facilities at the University of Kansas Field Station, north of Lawrence.

The team is led by Sharon Billings, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and associate scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey.

The multi-user research and teaching facility will include:
— a 2,160 square-foot greenhouse used for controlled-environment experiments
— a 432 square-foot, all-season greenhouse
— a 1,200 square-foot multi-purpose building
— a fenced research garden near the structures

The larger greenhouse will permit terrestrial and aquatic studies to be conducted in a more controlled fashion than is possible in the field, while enabling more natural conditions than laboratory studies permit. The smaller greenhouse will provide the capability for year-round plant propagation, independent of studies taking place in the larger greenhouse.

The multi-purpose building will support a variety of ecological studies as well as facilities for classes and educational programs. A two-acre, fenced garden area adjacent to the greenhouse complex will be used as a secure setting for outdoor research projects, research plots, plantings and experiments.

The team led by Billings is made up of researchers from several KU departments, including ecology and evolutionary biology; geography; geology; environmental studies; and civil, environmental, and architectural engineering; as well as the Kansas Biological Survey. These scientists represent a diverse research portfolio, exploring questions related to plant ecology, ecosystem science, soil-landscape relationships, global climate change, population and community biology, biofuels, ethnobotany and experimental aquatic ecology.

The facility will be designed to represent energy efficiency and sustainability concepts. Multiple KU faculty, staff, and students are working to integrate this project, as well as others planned and under way, with a longer-term plan for the Field Station to become a model of sustainability and energy efficiency.

Established in 1947, the KU Field Station provides opportunities for research and public education in the climatic transition zone between the eastern deciduous forest and the tallgrass prairie. Its mission is to support research, environmental education and science-based stewardship of natural resources. The 3,400-acre field station includes public trails, tracts of land used exclusively as nature reserves, as well as other areas that are available for experimental research. Field station activities include teaching, public outreach and research programs for university students, school children, and the general public.

Wed, 09/14/2011


Berry Clemens

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