Progressing at an Amazing Pace

February 2019

Earlier this month, members of the Board of Trustees walked through the Knight Campus job site, where crews are starting work on the second floor.

knight campus tour

During their tour and discussions, we realized that we were marking a midway point of sorts. Just a year ago, we celebrated groundbreaking. Roughly a year from now, we’ll celebrate a grand opening.

With the trustees, it was a pleasure to don hard hats and walk across the job site, touching girders and getting up close with cranes. It’s always a pleasure to point out that we’ve hit every key date in construction. But just as satisfying were the discussions of our successes on the programming side of the project, such as those with our Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program (KCGIP).

Both the Bioinformatics and Genomics and the Master’s Industrial Internship programs were integrated into the KCGIP in 2017, and the combined effort is proving fruitful.

In February, KCGIP hosted more than 100 attendees during the fourth annual Genomics in Action meeting, where academic and industry leaders presented innovative approaches in bioinformatics. The event also provided opportunities for graduate students to network and explore internships with industry partners; more than 175 interviews were conducted by fourteen partner institutions.

In May, KCGIP will host a breakfast for more than 45 alumni and interns currently employed at Thermo Fisher Scientific’s site in Hillsboro. The day will be rounded out with leadership discussions on continued collaborations and how the company’s 2018 gift of $100,000 has had a positive impact on KCGIP inclusion and diversity initiatives.

This summer, we’re launching a new track in molecular probes and sensors. We received a strong pool of applications for the first year of the program, which blends intense, team-oriented lab and course work with realities of industry, such as tight timelines and budgets. Ultimately our graduates will find placement in the biotechnology or bioscience industries.

In other student-related news, I’m pleased to share that Thermo Fisher is continuing its support of the Knight Campus by funding a pair of student-mentor relationships for the Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars Program, a pilot project designed to pair promising undergraduates with research mentors — graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members — in Knight Campus-affiliated labs. We are very pleased to work with the Vice President for Research and Innovation’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program in administering this program.

Six undergraduates and six mentors began their 12-month, immersive work in January. It provides the first window into undergraduate opportunities in the Knight Campus. You can learn more about the program and our first student cohort at

In addition, we have been working closely with the Vice President for Research and Innovation on enhancing research facilities and providing additional financial leverage for proposals for external funding. To date, we have contributed more than $650,000 to science-related capital projects in the science core, expended close to $500,000 for equipment in shared facilities and committed $400,000 in matching funds for science equipment critical for Knight Campus and general science needs alike. We also have worked collaboratively with the Provost’s Space Advisory Group, researchers in the Lewis Integrative Sciences Building (LISB) and their unit heads on developing an agreed upon capital plan for the physical space where the pedestrian bridge joins the existing LISB second floor. Construction of the bridge begins summer 2019.

This winter, I’ve met with the Faculty Advisory Council and science department heads in the College of Arts and Sciences. I will be meeting with departmental and research heads at the College of Education shortly. I have also met with CAS Humanities leadership, the deans of the Graduate School and Honors College and many individual researchers around campus to share information about the Knight Campus, learn more about the University of Oregon and to see where our energies combined could amplify our mutual aims. It’s been a pleasure to be in discussions with such talented and passionate colleagues around campus.

In other news, talks continue with OHSU and Oregon State University on potential partnerships on joint graduate degree program offerings. We finalized an agreement to share a booth with OHSU and OSU to recruit graduate students at the Biomedical Engineering Society annual meeting in Philadelphia this fall. It will be an important opportunity to showcase our collaborative efforts to create attractive opportunities for top scholars and researchers to come to Oregon. 

Engaging with our external community is a critical element of our work. In recent months I have met with the Eugene city manager, UO Foundation board members, leadership at OHSU and OSU, business and industry leaders and other friends of the university to keep the lines of communication open on our plans for the Knight Campus. 

On April 24 at the Shedd in downtown Eugene, we will continue our Science Knight Out series, bringing UO research and discovery to the Eugene-Springfield community. I will be the speaker for this spring’s event on the topic of: “The future is here: bioengineered medical devices and regenerative therapies.” We will keep with the format we have established with a question and answer period led by biology professor Patrick Phillips directly after my presentation. This is only one of a number of events we are sponsoring or publicizing for sister units. Our events page /events is kept up to date. I also encourage you to engage with the Knight Campus on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Building a new science campus from the ground up is a formidable challenge. Yet the steel skeleton rapidly rising from the ground always manages to instill me with fresh optimism. Even in relative winter darkness, after the toughest of days, it’s a strong reminder that we’re progressing at an amazing pace. Before we know it, a spectacular building with world-class facilities will be ready for move in. But what most excites me is not the building itself but the people we will recruit to fill it and the impactful collaborative science that will result.