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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Ring lab receives $9M gift

    Jim Parks, a research specialist at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, looks at some of the thousands of wood samples from around the world piled up in the lab in Arizona Stadium. The lab received a $9 million donation that will pay for a new storage facility for the samples.
    Jim Parks, a research specialist at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, looks at some of the thousands of wood samples from around the world piled up in the lab in Arizona Stadium. The lab received a $9 million donation that will pay for a new storage facility for the samples.

    Thanks to a generous donation announced Friday, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research will now have a place to house its samples.

    Last month, Agnese N. Haury, the widow of one of the lab’s founders, donated $9 million, which will be used to build an archive for the more than two million tree ring samples, said Thomas W. Swetnam, the lab’s director and a UA professor.

    The tree ring samples are currently in a “”crowded”” room at the west side of Arizona Stadium, in the basement of the Mathematics East building and at an off-campus location, Swetnam said.

    The building will be named for Bryant Bannister, the lab’s director emeritus and its longest tenured director.

    In addition, the money will allow for the lab to hire a full-time curator and archivist to organize the samples, said Rex Adams, the lab’s senior research specialist.

    “”We have been saying for quite some time that archiving by oral tradition is not the best way to do it. You really need to have a specialized archivist or curator,”” Adams said. “”With this donation, not only did (Haury) provide for the facility, she also has made it possible to hire someone to be a full-time curator.””

    The new building should be completed within the next three to four years, but no formal date of completion or location for the archive has been decided yet, Swetnam said.

    The archive will help organize the samples to better prepare for future research.

    “”Currently, our space is limited and pretty full, and we didn’t have any plans for a new building,”” Swetnam said. “”The archive will enable us to properly care for our materials.””

    Those materials include tree ring samples from all over the world, which can be thought of as time capsules because they document information about specific years in specific locations, Swetnam said.

    Tree rings can be used to study environmental and cultural history, including climate change and global warming, cliff dwellings and even Viking ships, he said.

    “”Our collection can be thought of as a library of environmental and cultural history,”” he said. “”We’ve only begun to tap into the information available in all of our samples.””

    The tree ring lab, officially established in 1937 by the Arizona Board of Regents, has had global impact and brought fame and recognition to the UA.

    Although Haury has been a longtime friend and supporter of the facility, the size of her gift came as a surprise.

    “”My immediate reaction was one of shock and gratitude,”” Adams said. “”All of the members of the lab are really in amazement that she would be so generous to us.””

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