By Mary Venuto
The Ecological Research and Education Center (EREC) has reached an important milestone in becoming a recognized field station.
For eighteen years the Ecological Research Facility (ERF), located on the north side of town, was used as a site for controlled experiments. Four years ago the University of Kentucky bought a former library building that was adjacent to ERF. With financial assistance from LexMark, ERF was able to become a field station.
University of Kentucky biology faculty and undergraduate students have since used the Ecological Research and Education Center for a broad range of ecological environmental and genomic research. In addition to research, EREC is also involved in furthering the education of undergraduate students and community outreach.
Now those at EREC wish to heighten the field station’s reputation. Biology professor Philip Crowley and collaborators came together to write a planning grant to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The approved “Field Station Planning for the Ecological Research Center at the University of Kentucky” grant will fund workshops and multiple discussions to advance the goals of EREC.
“What we need is input from outside,” said Crowley, “People who have done this successfully.”
During the 17 month project period, experienced field station leaders and academics from varying universities will come to EREC to give their input on how to advance everybody’s cause. By receiving fresh and new ideas from outside sources, EREC is taking a step forward in becoming nationally and internationally important.
“This puts us in a much better position to seek funding and to recruit researchers and students to implement these ideas,” said Crowley
Crowley is optimistic that after the workshops, EREC will be better situated to increase its research activity and productivity of dissertations. In addition to research output, Crowley hopes that the teaching component of EREC will also be strengthened to benefit undergraduate lab students.