New UO science center set to open

New UO science center set to open »Play Video
Lewis Integrative Science Center at UO

EUGENE, Ore. - The future of science at the University of Oregon is about to take off at the new $65 million Lewis Integrative Science Center.

Think of the Lewis Integrative Science Center as a shopping mall of deep thought.

"This is a sound booth right here. It's a giant metal box," said researcher Mike Wehr as he set up his workshop and new lab space.

In this interdisciplinary building, chemistry meets biology meets psychology meets - well, you get the idea.

The Lewis Center has 30,000 square feet of lab space, workshops and room for a new full body MRI machine.

Glass walls line the labs to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas.  Researchers believe that's the essence of integrative science.

Wehr said the goal in his neuro-imaging section is to "try and understand all of the connections between these different levels, to try and really have this improved power and understanding how the brain works."

Amid all the razzle-dazzle, all the multi-million dollar machinery, they've thought about the basics, too. 

In case you don't have scratch paper, you write on the wall: They are whiteboards for brainstorming,

"So as people are mingling in here and they have an idea, they write on the wall and then they can walk away," said Construction Project Manager Denise Stewart.

The building itself is an experiment, using 58 percent less energy than conventionally designed centers of the same size.

You'll find no classrooms here, but UO undergrads will work with researchers on many projects "or a grant that they'd like to write.  That grant could bring more research money to Oregon," explains campus spokesman Lewis Taylor.

Funding that could spark new partnerships between research and private industry in the rapidly changing field of science.

The Lewis Center was paid for by private gifts, federal and state grants and $30 million in state bonds - the largest general obligation bond the UO has everr received for an academic facility.