The Jordan College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology received a $29.4 million gift three years ago from the Jordan family that, in the near future, will lead to a new research center on campus designed to enrich the learning experience of students and faculty.
The gift’s purpose is to fund the construction of a state-of-the-art research facility, the Jordan Research Center.
The project is currently in its design phase. The facility will be on the southeast corner of Woodrow and Barstow avenues. Students can expect to see construction begin as early as the end of this year or early next year.
Faculty from the College of Science and Mathematics, Lyles College of Engineering and the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology have come together to brainstorm on the design for the new learning environment for students at Fresno State.
Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, has high hopes that the facility enables the three colleges to work side by side and create a new atmosphere of interconnectivity.
The college has been limited with labs that are used for class instruction and research, but there hasn’t been an established facility for research on campus.
“One of the things that [is] always limiting is dedicated space for research,” Boyer said.
The California State University system plans and builds with state money for the teaching mission, thus leaving researchers to find ways to have space for research. Of the $29.4 million, $20 million will be allocated toward the building of the new research site.
“The truth of the matter is that research in agriculture, food or water or natural resources, which are part of agriculture as well, any of those areas that research is truly interdisciplinary,” Boyer said. “Different colleges may be working on one problem, one issue, and that synergy is important.”
Three different colleges will utilize the new space. They are the College of Science and Mathematics, Lyles College of Engineering and the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.
The research center will be 30,000 square feet with three floors for faculty and students to work. It is designed to incorporate new modern lab ideas as well as spaces for interaction.
Graduate student Prasad Yadavali, an international student from India, described the graduate laboratory he works out of as crowded. The laboratory is not large enough to house the materials and equipment used for research, he said.
The departments under the Jordan College all share the small building with undergraduate and graduate students. There are four large labs that serve as multipurpose areas. Those are also shared with classes.
“Research samples have to be stored in other buildings because there isn’t dedicated space for them. So they must be stored in other building’s refrigerators and freezers,” said Yadavali.
Students have been working in a rotating system, where they conduct their research. After they are done, they must clean up for the next student to go in and begin. These areas, which are usually dedicated spaces in other labs, are shared and become common areas.
The Central Valley has led the way in agriculture. This is reflective of Fresno State as the university has 1,000 acres of farmland.
Boyer said he hopes with the addition of the new research facility that it will make a long-term impact on campus and help transform it into a university for the future. The Jordan Research Center will allow for more research and hopefully more collaborative research projects.
“I think, especially since Fresno is the center for agriculture,” Boyer said.
Since there isn’t dedicated space for undergraduate and graduate students, they don’t have the opportunity to meet and work with other researching students. Rooms in the graduate laboratory are separated from one another. The design of the new infrastructure will allow for students to interact with each other openly and share ideas.
When students get together and help one another on projects, they learn through the process of involvement, Boyer said.
There are approximately 10 to 12 graduate students, Yadavali said. He believes the center will increase the number of graduate students, along with the amount of research conducted.
Boyer said, “I think it would be a very good addition for the university and for research in terms of soil science, plant science, plant pathology. I think the department will grow a lot more.”