University receives $14.4 million for research, building

Auburn University will be the recipient of a $14.4 million grant from the federal government that will go toward Auburn research and a 68,000 square foot building.

The building will house 21 research laboratories for five major multidisciplinary research groups, explained Brian Keeter, Director of Public Affairs, for the office of the president.

The grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Auburn participated in a competitive proposal against other universities, institutions and non-profit organizations, to be awarded the grant, Keeter said.

"The four entities that received funds were all universities," he said. "Along with Auburn, Rice University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the University of Miami also had successful proposals and will be receiving federal grant funding."

Auburn will be using the new research facility to conduct studies in five major areas including food safety, bio energy technology, aqua culture development and sustainability and water and environmental quality, Keeter said.

NIST's press release on the grant winners specifically explained what type of labs the research building will employ.

"The 21 research laboratories in the new facility will include two simulation labs, three genomics labs, three labs for predictive biology and informatic forecasting, four labs for ecosystem health forecasting and marine aquaculture, two labs for water quality standards and detection, two labs for bio-fuels and quality standards, two labs for bio-products, two labs for detection and food quality and safety, and one lab for economic impact and forecasting," NIST's press release said.

"Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce at Auburn University is designed to provide facilities for five major multidisciplinary research groups working on standards, measurement and forecasting related to the environment, bio-fuels and water and food quality and safety," according to NIST's official Web site.

"The funding will go toward this research building because it is the plan that was proposed to NIST," Keeter said. "When the federal government announces a grant, they include specific criteria and guidelines that proposals must meet, in order to be considered."

Keeter explained that when the grant was announced by NIST they gave a window of available funding.

"We proposed an amount that was in that window," he said. "This is a cost/share situation, where we will receive half of the funding necessary to make this research facility from the federal grant and we will identify matching funds from a variety of sources in addition to that federal grant funding. We're in the process of working to identify those funds."

NIST's official Web site said that Auburn's total cost for the research building is expected to be around $28,854,000, and the facility is expected to be complete by Spring 2012.

"Auburn being a recipient of this grant is notable for many reasons, " Keeter said. "Most importantly, it recognizes the expertise and accomplishments of Auburn researchers and scientists."

According to the NIST Web site, Auburn's proposal for the research center directly relates to their overarching goals.

"The innovations coming out of the new center will advance national priorities that benefit key sectors of the economy and the public in Alabama and beyond," said Auburn President Jay Gogue, in a press release.

The research facility is going to bring research clusters, from across campus, together to foster discoveries on a much larger scale and transfer to marketplace at a much faster pace, as explained in the press release, Keeter said.

"This center is going to improve economic opportunities and quality of life in Alabama and beyond," Keeter said.

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