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OSU Institute for Agricultural Biosciences to fuel enhanced opportunities


The development of agricultural and bioenergy advances will be getting a high-octane boost, thanks to the new $15 million Oklahoma State University Institute for Agricultural Biosciences in Ardmore.

Oklahoma civic, commodity and government leaders joined OSU President Burns Hargis and members of the Board of Regents for Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and OSU's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources for the official dedication and flag-raising on July 28.

"The institute will be a wonderful asset for Oklahoma and supports OSU's historic land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension," Hargis said. "It will be a key part of our efforts to enhance state and regional agricultural and energy interests, and strengthens our partnership with the Noble Foundation, which has been an ongoing collaboration since 1951."

Located at the corner of Mary Niblack Road and Sam Noble Parkway on State Highway 199, east of Ardmore, the institute is a 33,000-square-foot facility designed to enable scientists to solve challenges related to cellular and plant biology, plant and animal sciences, and biomass development for bioenergy. It includes a multimedia auditorium that seats 100 individuals, two conference rooms, two team meeting rooms, offices and state-of-the-art laboratories.

Robert E. Whitson, DASNR vice president, dean and director, said the institute will expand and improve programs associated with all three aspects of the division: the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the division's two state agencies, the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

On-site activities will be enhanced through collaboration with other OSU units, such as the Department of Animal Science and College of Veterinary Medicine relative to livestock production and the Biobased Products and Energy Center in developing techniques to efficiently convert biomass into usable forms of energy.

In addition, OSU graduate and undergraduate students will have increased opportunities to train with some of the most prestigious researchers within the division and Noble Foundation, many of whom are world-renowned in their career fields.

The building is certified as meeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design criteria, which means it adheres to high-performance standards for sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and environmental quality.

Being an LEED-certified building is projected to save $18 in energy and operational costs for each $1 invested, resulting in approximately $12 million in projected savings during the next 40 years.

Whitson said the institute has a projected annual budget of $1 million to $5 million, depending on external competitive research funding.

The Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents approved construction procedures on Oct. 27, 2006. The Oklahoma Legislature made an appropriation of $10 million to fund the new institute. Construction began in April 2009.

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