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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Property of UA

Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat Biosphere

Biosphere 2 in Oracle will become official UA property on July 1, allowing a greater focus on long-term research and better positioning the center to receive federal and state investments.

The UA’s acquisition of Biosphere 2, a center for research, outreach, teaching and learning about Earth and its living systems, was made possible through two gifts. CDO Ranching & Development will donate 40 acres of real estate and facilities, including the center’s scientific apparatus, a conference center and a power-generating plant. In addition, the Philecology Foundation of Fort Worth, Texas will provide $20 million to support ongoing science and operations.  

The organizational structure of the center will not change after it becomes official UA property, according to Hassan Hijazi, director of external affairs at Biosphere 2.

“”By securing the ownership, it will give us (the UA) opportunity for long-term investment from various agencies,”” he said.

Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the UA College of Science, said that as the largest ecological observatory in the world, Biosphere 2 makes the UA a unique institution to address some of the grand challenges facing the environment.

An example of this is water availability in Arizona due to the change of rain patterns. Ruiz said that data from this experiment could be given to Arizona policymakers to address how individuals deal with water.

“”It’s ours,”” said Ruiz about the UA taking ownership of Biosphere 2. “”We now have complete freedom to change things in the Biosphere without having to ask permission.””

The UA College of Science has managed Biosphere 2 since 2007. Since then, the facility has operated as a place for scientific studies and discoveries, a science education center and a Tucson attraction.

Research from Biosphere 2, Hijazi said, can apply to research on a larger scale in other areas such as renewable and solar energy.

The gift from the Philecology Foundation will also allow for the expansion of the B2 Institute, a separate component of the Biosphere which addresses scientific challenges and provides scientists from around the world to interact at an accessible venue in the Catalina Mountains.  

Associated Students of the University of Arizona President James Allen said that UA ownership of Biosphere 2 would help bring in “”new money”” for the university as well as many research and research grant opportunities. As a leader in ecology and hydrology, Allen said, the facility will continue to provide the UA progress in those areas.

“”It (Biosphere 2) truly differentiates us from other universities.”” 

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