The Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport has officially opened a new £7.5 million interdisciplinary science teaching and learning facility at the University of York.
Sir Mark unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion after touring the extensive laboratory and computer facilities for undergraduate bioscience students, which this year includes the first intake of students on the new Biomedical Sciences programme, developed jointly with the Hull York Medical School.
Sir Mark was also given a presentation on the University’s new School of Natural Sciences which will have its base in the new building with the first intake of students in September 2015.
The building represents the first phase of the redevelopment of the Department of Biology, which will involve new buildings to house teaching and research laboratories. The opening comes as the Government announced a £5 million grant towards the second phase of the redevelopment as part of £200 million funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching capital projects in 2015-16.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England scheme is intended to meet the demand for STEM studies by developing facilities that will support an increased flow of highly employable graduates into industry
Sir Mark was accompanied on the tour by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts, the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research Professor Deborah Smith, Head of Biology Professor Ian Graham and Dr Roddy Vann, the Natural Sciences Programme Director, and Professor Brian Fulton, the University’s Academic Co-ordinator for the Sciences.
Earlier, Sir Mark presented a lecture titled “Tackling Global Challenges: The role of research and science advice in Whitehall and beyond” to an audience of invited guests.
He used the lecture to emphasise the key role the scientific community plays both in providing evidence to guide policy and in helping the Government respond appropriately to public health and infrastructure emergencies both in the UK and overseas.
Sir Mark said that the UK had overtaken the USA in terms of the relative impact of its scientific research and, crucially, it now ranked second in the world for Innovation. He stressed that Science and Innovation was vital to the wellbeing and prosperity of the UK.
Professor Graham said: “This new building provides us with state of the art facilities for our undergraduate students to gain first hand experience of scientific research and complex data analysis, preparing them for the 21st Century job market and the global challenges that Sir Mark so elegantly addressed in his lecture.”
Dr Vann added: ‘We are enormously proud of this superb new building which reflects the University’s firm commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and learning. It will provide a quality of experience for our students that is second to none.’
Completed in August 2014, the building contains teaching laboratories, the latest digital and e-learning facilities, break out rooms and an area for social gatherings and meetings.