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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 9, 2007

Regents like biorenewables proposal

by Anne Krapfl

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, agreed Feb. 6 to seek from the 2007 Legislature $28 million for a biorenewables research facility at Iowa State and $5 million to hire additional faculty. President Gregory Geoffroy presented the request to the board.

Noting that the state of Iowa is "on the cusp of one of the greatest changes in its history," Geoffroy said that it is during periods of change that the state relies on a strong land-grant university.

As proposed, the building funds would be sought from state infrastructure funds. Geoffroy said private gifts would supplement the state funds.

The proposed $5 million in operating funds would hire at least 10 research faculty: $1 million would be recurring salary funds and the remaining $4 million would be one-time "start-up" funds to help the new researchers set up and equip their labs.

"This building will be a magnet. It will be a catalyst for additional partnerships and significantly increased federal funding," Geoffroy said.

"Importantly in this state," Geoffroy added, "this is an area that develops rural vitality and the rural economy."

In response to a question from regent Teresa Wahlert, regents executive director Gary Steinke said this building request is an allowed exclusion to the regent universities' pledge last June to not seek state funding for campus buildings for three years. The moratorium was part of the one-year student surcharge the regents approved. One of the allowed exemptions is "projects resulting from economic development initiatives."

On the horizon

Energy giant BP last week awarded a $500 million biosciences grant to a team led by the University of California, Berkeley. Also contending for the grant were four other teams. The University of California, San Diego, team included Iowa State and the J. Craig Venter Institute of Rockville, Md., as partners.

President Gregory Geoffroy and director of the Office of Biorenewables Robert C. Brown made these comments after the BP announcement:

"I want to thank everyone who worked so hard on this initiative. It was a tremendous honor to be among the top five teams in the world considered for this grant. Iowa State has a premier biorenewables program, and we will continue to pursue research that will help move the world into the era of advanced renewable fuels."

-- Gregory Geoffroy

"We're looking forward to the next big opportunity in biofuels and there are many of them."

-- Robert C. Brown