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Chemistry Discovery Complex in the works

By on April 28, 2015 in University

“It’s not just new space but a new place to do breakthrough science,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said last week in announcing the beginning stages of the development of a Chemistry Discovery Complex.

She made the announcement April 23 before a gathering of faculty members outside the Chemistry Building and in an email message to the campus.

“With UC Davis’ strong history and commitment to STEM, we are intending to build the most transformational complex dedicated to chemistry and biochemistry in Northern California,” Katehi said in her email.

“This will be a project that will represent the vision of many faculty, with input from a broad range of constituents. In a year, we will have the plans for a complex that will benefit the entire university, as well as business and industry throughout the region, and will enable Davis to contribute to solving some of the most pressing problems facing humanity today.”

With an estimated cost in the range of $400 million, the Chemistry Discovery Complex will be the campus’s largest-ever capital science project. It will consist of a new building and renovations and additions to the Chemistry and Chemistry Annex buildings as well as Bainer Hall, with construction to occur in phases to completion in 2022.

The programming for the complex will be developed over the next several months by a faculty-led task force headed by three co-chairs:

  • Bruce Gates, distinguished professor, chemical engineering and materials science, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering
  • Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, professor and former department chair, chemistry
  • Kit Lam, professor, Department of Hematology and Oncology, and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine

Task force members will be chosen and announced over the next several weeks.

In her briefing to faculty, Katehi credited Alexandra Navrotsky, interim dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, as a “driving force” behind the project. “Alex has believed so much in this project,” the chancellor said.

Foundational science

Katehi’s memo noted how chemistry is the foundational science for many disciplines, ranging from the life and health sciences to agriculture to engineering, so an investment like this one is an investment in the UC Davis of the 21st century.

Within the buildings, students and faculty will explore a vast array of challenges that could range from cancer research to air pollution to food and nutrition.

The new building will be a hub of transformational interdisciplinary research, housing teams of chemistry and chemical engineering faculty, as well as faculty from schools and colleges across campus, working together to address issues of societal importance and to educate the next generation of scientists.

Officials expect the completed project will benefit more than 400 faculty members who will contribute to the education of tens of thousands of students over the ensuing decades.

“We must take action now to build for our future and in defining our future,” Katehi said in her memo. “We are putting a stake in the ground as committed problem solvers and innovators.

“I cannot think of a more valuable investment than in buildings that will grow knowledge and drive discovery in disciplines based on chemistry.”

Financing will come from a mix of state, private, research and campus funds.

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Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,