The University of Arizona has announced a $30 million gift in support of Biosphere 2 from Edward P. Bass, one of the founders of the facility that researches environmental change, the management of finite and dwindling natural resources, and supports policies to protect our fragile ecosystems.
The gift will endow the Philecology Chair for Biospheric Research, to which Peter Troch, Biosphere 2 director of science, and Kevin Bonine, Biosphere 2 director of outreach and education, have been appointed and which is amplified through the state-funded Eminent Scholars Program. The commitment also will establish the Philecology Biospheric Research Endowment Fund, which will be used to maintain, operate, and improve Biosphere 2 in support of its research programs. Biosphere 2 houses the Landscape Evolution Observatory, the world's largest laboratory experiment in earth sciences, and a simulated rainforest where scientists are studying how physical and biological processes control the evolution of landscapes, how climate change could affect water flow and forests, and how renewable energy might be paired with agriculture to increase energy efficiency and reduce evaporation.
This gift is the third major commitment since 2007 by Bass's Philecology Foundation to support research and operations at Biosphere 2. "Biosphere 2 could not be in better or more committed hands" said Bass. "The University of Arizona is ideally suited to make the most of Biosphere 2's resources. I'm confident in its ability to benefit our planet's long-term well-being and excited about what we will learn."
"Biosphere 2 is a living laboratory where scientists do incredibly compelling work to better understand our environment," said UA president Robert C. Robbins. "This work is directly applicable to successful crop growth, water conservation and energy security, and even growing food on other planets. It looks to our collective future while building on the core competencies we have here at the UA."