Sevilleta LTER Breaks Ground on New Research and Education Center

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New Mexico state officials were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremonies at the Sevilleta LTER on July 6, 2005.

Pete Domenici christens the ground breaking

New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici christens the official groundbreaking of the Sevilleta LTER's new Research and Education Center as UNM Vice President for Research and Development, Terry Yates, and President Louis Caldera applaud. Photo: Jeanine McGann

The Sevilleta LTER kicked off the addition of a Research and Education Center to the Research Field Station with a groundbreaking ceremony on the morning of July 6, 2005. Under a big, white tent in the hot sun of New Mexico, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM)-in accompaniment with University of New Mexico (UNM) Vice President for Research and Development, Terry Yates; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regional Director, Dale Hall; Nature Conservancy Assistant State Director, Terry Sullivan; and UNM President, Louis Caldera-helped to christen the first roll of the bulldozer over the sand that is slated to become the state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary facility.

The new facility will help bring together a variety of researchers, resource managers, and students from several institutions, including UNM, New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State University, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and allow for faster and easier synthesis of data from these disparate sources.

Calling himself a "sucker for big science," Senator Domenici praised the new center as an integral part of the important research being done at the Sevilleta and predicted that it will leave "a legacy of our willingness to learn" for future scientists and students.

Sevilleta researchers demonstrate mouse-testing techniques for hantavirus study at the July 6 groundbreaking event. Photo: Jeanine McGann

Scientists will have access to laboratories and equipment for analysis of soil and water; microbial, genetic, and infectious disease research; animal and plant studies; and biodiversity mapping. Educational opportunities for students from kindergarten through graduate school will be vastly expanded, as well as the Sevilleta's capacity for public outreach and education programs.

President Caldera spoke of the importance of projects like this as "helping to identify New Mexico as a unique and important place for scientific research and discovery," while Terry Yates mentioned the prominent role of the center and the Sevilleta itself in the nascent science of ecological forecasting.

The official groundbreaking was followed by a poster presentation by many of the participating organizations, during which the Senator was given a crash course in some of the research being conducted by Sevilleta scientists. After a walk around the Field Station, and an impressive demonstration of hantavirus technology by hazmat-suited scientists, the Senator adjourned to lunch at the Fish and Wildlife HQ.

The Research and Education Center at Sevilleta LTER is scheduled to be completed in late 2006.

Jeanine K. McGann
LTER Network Office (LNO)