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The Jordan Agricultural Research Center located on the Fresno State campus, Aug. 30, 2016. The brand new building was completed and opened to the public on May 13, 2016 and provides a research center for agricultural, engineering, science and mathematic students. (Khonesavanh Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Expanding student opportunities with a new facility

Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology will start the school year with a state-of-the-art research facility on campus.

This September, the college will open up the new facility that will be home to graduate research, handling various issues pertaining to agriculture. Other departments from Fresno State will be able to use the facility to expand their experiments and research on issues directly affecting the Central Valley.

Jordan College Dean Sandra Witte explained that the research center will also be a place of collaboration between departments that would not normally have happened before.

“It was always intended to be an ag research facility that promoted collaboration,” Witte said.

Multiple departments in science, math and engineering can now come together as a team with Jordan College in a collaborative work environment, she said.

The new facility has been made possible by five different sponsors, both private and industry, including Jordan family. It includes several collaboration rooms for group research and discussions. There are also many research labs throughout the building that will be used this semester for crop and food science. One is a sensory evaluation lab that will be used by culinology department researchers.

Dr. Dennis Ferris, director of the culinology department, explained what type of research projects would be done in this new lab. Products created for the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market will be tested by panelists in a controlled-testing room. The panelists will taste the food in a private room where their senses will be controlled by light, humidity and temperature. This will give researchers a better understanding of how consumers react while tasting new products.

“Ultimately it’s about testing for that consumer input and then, once we find out what the consumers like, then we produce the products here on campus to sell at the farm market,” Ferris said.

The new center will also help individual graduate students with their independent research projects.

For example, graduate student and entomologist Julie Pedraza will study how crops react when they come into contact with a specific insect. Pedraza is thankful to be working at the heart of where all the agricultural business and production is happening, to have direct access to insects and crops and to be working side-by-side with different types of ag professionals ranging from growers to U.S. Department of Agriculture employees.

“Having access to that knowledge and those resources, it only makes perfect sense to have a research center here,” Pedraza said.