While biobanking is an increasingly prevalent practice, most people associate this method solely with medical studies, rather than environmental research. However, the laboratory sample management software and other tools used to conduct biobanking can be used in a number of different fields. Sacramento State University, however, is planning to invest in the less popular field: a new, planned institute will merge the school’s environmental research with policymaking, hopefully yielding some positive information on climate change and water issues.
Called the Institute for Water, Energy, Sustainability and Technology, or iWest, officials say the new research center will be opened for the upcoming fall semester. At first, the institute will be located on the school campus, but will eventually be moved to a separate location less than a quarter mile from the university.
According to school officials, iWest will be funded with $750,000 from the university budget. However, the environmental research center will hopefully be able to support itself with fundraising in the future. Authorities also announced that the institute will help integrate several existing programs, including the Office of Water Programs, the Sustainable Technology Outdoor Research Center, and the Center for Collaborative Policy.
The institute’s possibilities are seemingly unlimited, but school officials seem particularly interested in the field of aquaponics, which involves raising fish and growing crops in a single farming system. Other potential projects include wetland restoration, groundwater management and water scarcity. In order to pursue these subjects, the initial funding will be used to obtain several pieces of specialized biobanking software and research equipemnt, including a mass spectrometer and an ion chromatograph. With these implements at their disposal, the university hopes that iWest will be able to draw in experts from different fields to conduct environmental research and help lawmakers create policies that can help California and other areas recover and thrive.