Chancellor Douglas A. Girod

Message: A giant leap forward for our science facilities

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dear Jayhawks,

As anyone walking through campus at the beginning of this new academic year will immediately notice, we have a number of new buildings and facilities all around us.

One of the more exciting ones is the new Integrated Science Building (ISB), which has the potential to improve KU’s standing in myriad ways.

The building, which opened in June, features nearly 300,000 square feet of much-needed new space for teaching and research in the fields of chemistry, medicinal chemistry, physics, molecular biosciences, and other related fields. The space is created with collaboration in mind and constructed with large windows in classrooms and labs, as well as common areas to allow students and faculty to engage in stimulating discussions.

Last week, our School of Engineering published a story that highlighted some details about the ISB that are worth sharing with a broader audience.

The building includes a low-vibration area for researchers doing materials and biology imaging work, an atrium, a state-of-the-art cleanroom, and a 330-seat lecture hall.

Steven Soper, one of our Foundation Distinguished Professors in chemistry and mechanical engineering, shared how the building helps him and his colleagues conduct research that will garner national and international attention. The ISB’s 6,500-square feet of research space in its cleanroom facility helps him run experiments on biomaterials and to generate new devices with high medical impact.

“This will be very unique to the state of Kansas and regionally, and spawn high-tech businesses,” he said. “We’ll have visitors coming to Kansas to do things they can’t do at their home universities.”

The cleanroom allows for research into tiny nanodevices just a fraction of the diameter of a human hair. Though microscopic in size, these devices have an immense potential to improve our world.

Armed with this new technology, researchers like Soper will have the ability to generate nanotechnology devices that can sequence the entire genome of cancer patients at unprecedented speeds and accuracy. Soper also uses the cleanroom in his own spinoff company, Digital NanoGenetics.

This is precisely the kind of activity we want to be encouraging at a major public research university like ours.

And, of course, the ISB isn’t our only new and upgraded facility for science. Nearby is the 140,000-square foot Earth Energy and Environment Center, consisting of Ritchie and Slawson halls. There, our university is building on our strengths in the fields of geology, energy, and environment research. Here, too, researchers are crossing disciplinary boundaries and finding new ways to pursue great work.

All of this contributes to our broader goals of becoming one of the nation’s top public research universities. As these and other new facilities around our campuses begin to shine, our entire university will benefit as we recruit new scholars, pursue new funding opportunities, and enhance our visibility on the national stage.

In other words, it’s a great time to be a Jayhawk.


Douglas A. Girod

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Chancellor's Vision

The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

We will do that by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.