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University News

More space needed for long-term growth in sciences

By and
Senior Staff Writers
Sunday, November 13, 2011

Administrators across the sciences are eyeing expansion of facilities and faculty following the recent establishment of the School of Engineering and growth at the Institute for Brain Science. While no concrete plans are in place, discussions have emphasized a greater support of collaboration across disciplines.

The engineering program is “bursting out” of its space limitations in Barus and Holley, and the recently announced Hunter Laboratory renovation will provide only a short-term solution, said Lawrence Larson, dean of engineering. As the School of Engineering grows, it will require more faculty and physical space, he said.

“Right now we are trying to take our existing space and utilize it more efficiently,” Larson said. “In the long run, some kind of new space needs to be created.”

The brain science institute also continues to expand — an external review this fall found the brain sciences to be a key target area for University growth, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15. The institute added six new positions under President Ruth Simmons, said John Donoghue, director of the Institute for Brain Science. It  will be “doing some extra recruiting in the years ahead,” Schlissel said.

Expansion in brain science will likely occur in two phases, he added. An expansion of faculty and resources will precede a possible new building.

“Yes, we are talking about space but there’s nothing concrete,” Donoghue said. When departments talk about expansion, “you put everything on the table,” he said. “All those things are pieces of puzzles and that’s what administrators need to jockey.”

“I feel very comfortable saying that Brown has a unique environment,” Donoghue said. The University’s collaborative approach to the sciences — embodied in the interdisciplinary nature of the brain sciences program — has been particularly successful, he said. Physical expansion of cross-departmental research space would continue to foster these efforts.

A central location for researchers across the brain sciences would encourage collaboration, said Michael Frank, associate professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences. “I can’t see any downside to that,” Frank said.

Administrators declined to comment on possible locations for new facilities.

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